Data Recovery from a RAW Hard Disk
When a file system is damaged it becomes RAW. This means that it is now in a state that cannot be read as it has no known Windows file system attached. When this happens usually means that the file system type information is missing or inconsistent between system tables. This can occur through things such as formatting failures or virus infection. If, for example, you take out your USB stick while data is being written to it, the partition can get corrupted and become RAW. If you are suffering a RAW file system then try not to fret too much. Chances are that all your data is still around and can be recovered. A RAW Hard Disk is actually one of the more easier hard drive problems to recover from.
The first thing to note is that you should not format your drive instantly. A RAW file system usually means that a drive has not been formatted, but if you have been using the drive then it already is formatted as your data will be stored on it. However, the system may get confused and offer to format the drive. It thinks it is being helpful, but if you format the drive then you will be wiping out all of your data, potentially to a point where it is impossible to recover it at all. You will need to format the drive at some point, but you will need to get the data off it first.
Although Windows Explorer is not able to view your files when the hard disk is RAW, a decent recovery program will. Something like R-Studio should do the job nicely as it is simple and easy to use. It is quite useful in that you can scan for specific types of files (like Office documents or jpegs). This program can read all the data stored on the drive regardless of what file system is in use. It will take longer than Windows Explorer to show all your files since it is scanning for the data sector by sector. When it hopefully finds everything, be sure to transfer everything over to a different drive and not the one you are recovering from. Something like an external hard drive will work great.
Windows has an in built utility called Chkdsk. This will scan the drive and check to see how healthy it is. Once you have recovered all of your data, run Chkdsk and it will try and restore the broken partition. If your hard drive logically failed then reformatting it should sort out any of the problems. On the other hand, if the drive failure was mechanical then you would be better of just buying a new one. A hard drive is the number one failure prone component of a computer. To keep using a drive that has already failed once mechanically is certainly not recommended. Ensure that you have got all of your data off the drive using a recovery program and invest in a brand new hard drive.
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