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How to Fix RAW SD Card and Recover Data from It

How to Fix RAW SD Card and Recover Data from It

Ever encountered a situation where your SD card seemed to have lost all its data? Fear not, for raw SD card recovery is often possible with the right approach and tools. In this detailed guide, I’ll share personal experiences and methods that can potentially restore your precious files. Let’s explore the ways to fetch your data back from the abyss.


Common Scenarios:

The Accidental Format

  • Sometimes, you may accidentally format your SD card, losing all data in the process.
  • You may also receive a prompt saying the card is ‘raw’ and needs to be formatted.
  • Your PC or camera might have done the formatting without your explicit instruction during a malfunction.

Corruption Strikes

  • SD cards can become corrupted due to improper ejection or electrical issues.
  • Sometimes, the file system of the SD card can turn to RAW format, making it unreadable by most devices.
  • Using the SD card across different operating systems without proper formatting can lead to corruption.

Physical Damage

  • Physical impacts, such as drops or spills, can damage the SD card.
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures or magnetic fields can also lead to data corruption.
  • Wear and tear over time could affect the card’s ability to function properly.


Step-by-Step Guide. RAW SD Card Recovery:

Method 1: Using Data Recovery Software

  • Download and install a reputable data recovery software.
  • Launch the software and select your SD card as the location for data recovery.
  • Initiate the scanning process and wait for the software to find recoverable files.
  • Preview the recoverable files and select the ones you want to restore.
  • Complete the recovery process by saving the retrieved data to a safe location on your computer.

Note: Some files may not be recoverable due to the level of corruption or overwriting.

Conclusion: Data recovery software can be a lifesaver for retrieving lost files from a RAW SD card.

Method 2: Using Disk Management in Windows

  • Connect the SD card to your Windows PC.
  • Open Disk Management by right-clicking ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage’, then ‘Disk Management’.
  • Locate your SD card, right-click on it, and select ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths‘.
  • Add a new drive letter and see if the SD card is now accessible.
  • If not, you may need to format the SD card to a recognized file system.

Note: Formatting will erase all data, so this should be a last resort.

Conclusion: Altering drive paths can sometimes help the system recognize a RAW SD card without formatting.

Method 3: Using CHKDSK Command

  • Connect the SD card to your computer.
  • Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • Type ‘chkdsk X: /f‘ (replace X with the SD card’s drive letter) and press Enter.
  • Wait for the command to scan and fix any found errors.
  • Check if the SD card is accessible after the process.

Note: The CHKDSK command can fix file system errors but may not recover all files.

Conclusion: The CHKDSK utility is an effective built-in tool for repairing file system issues on a RAW SD card.

Method 4: Assigning a New Drive Letter

  • Connect your SD card to your computer.
  • Go to Disk Management as outlined in Method 2.
  • Right-click the SD card and choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths‘.
  • Select ‘Add‘ and assign a new drive letter.
  • Check if the SD card becomes accessible after this change.

Note: If the SD card becomes accessible, immediately back up your data.

Conclusion: Changing the drive letter can sometimes trigger the system to read the card correctly.


Precautions and Tips:

Handle With Care

  • Avoid removing your SD card while it is being read or written.
  • Always use ‘Eject’ or ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ before physically removing the card.
  • Keep SD cards away from magnetic fields, liquids, and extreme temperatures.


Understanding RAW SD Cards

When faced with a RAW SD card, understanding the underlying issues can improve your chances of recovery. A RAW file system is a state in which the system can’t recognize the file system—either it’s damaged, or the card is empty (but not in a standard format). Common causes for SD cards turning RAW include improper usage, incompatibility issues, or logical errors. Prevention is crucial when it comes to data loss. Always use SD cards within their operating guidelines and back up data regularly.

Moreover, with the constant evolution of technology, newer and more sophisticated data recovery tools are being developed. Staying updated with the latest software offerings, such as TestDisk, and understanding how to leverage these tools will enhance your ability to recover data from all kinds of storage media.


In conclusion, recovering data from a RAW SD card is not a guaranteed process, but by using a combination of software tools and system utilities, you can maximize your chances of success. The important thing is to act quickly and avoid using the SD card for further data storage to prevent overwriting. Remember to always handle your data storage devices with care and keep regular backups. May the odds favor your bytes!


A RAW SD card refers to a memory card whose file system is not recognized by the operating system, making it inaccessible and preventing file retrieval.

SD cards become RAW due to corruption, improper ejection, virus attacks, or file system errors that disrupt the card's structure and data accessibility.

Yes, RAW SD card recovery can often be achieved without data loss using specialized recovery software designed to restore files from RAW file systems.

DIY RAW SD card recovery can be safe with reliable software, but for critical data or complex issues, professional recovery services are recommended.

To perform RAW SD card recovery, connect the card to your computer, launch recovery software, scan the card for recoverable files, and save them to a secure location.

Ideal RAW SD card recovery software should support multiple file systems, offer a preview of recoverable files, and have a high success rate for data retrieval.

Yes, some free tools are available for RAW SD card recovery, but they often come with limitations compared to paid versions. Always ensure the tool is reputable.

Prevent an SD card from becoming RAW by safely ejecting it, avoiding exposure to extreme conditions, running regular scans for errors, and not interrupting file transfers.

RAW SD card recovery success varies depending on the card's condition and damage severity; some data types may be more challenging to recover than others.

Reliable RAW SD card recovery services can be found from reputable data recovery specialists. For example, check DriveSavers and Ontrack.