External Hard Drive Showing Up as a RAW disk

Hi, can someone help? - my os is windows 7 and I have an external 3.5 Hard Drive that was working fine in a IDE/SATA docking station, I think it was fat 32 - I pugged it in and it showed up as a RAW disk ( I haven't formatted it! ).

I have tried getting the data from it using File Scavenger 3.2 and although I got all my jpg's ok, I have only got some of the video clips that were on the drive to play and the rest of them show up but you can't play them, as the drive hasn't been formatted I though I would get back all the data as it was put on the drive.

So now that, that didn't work can I access the raw drive again with windows and get what is on the drive as it was before?,

many thanks, chris.

Hi Joe, thanks for the reply, I've tried the first option and that comes back as FAT 16 "partition can't be recovered" - analysing the disk again as I write but don't hold out much hope, and the second option is not available for raw drives, so I think I may have lost some of my data?, thanks very much for your help and if there's anything else you may think of I would be glad to try it, kind regards, chris.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Do you have an XP machine you could try it on?

You might try downloading an Ubuntu Install DVD. You can boot to it and select "Try" instead of installing. Then use it to recover the Fat16 partition data.

I have never tried to convert a Fat16 to Fat32 or NTFS, but I suspect you might loose the data when doing so.


Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
It's likely that the partition has been lost, for some reason. http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk might give you some answers.

The solution Saltgrass introduces, isn't a bad one, he's smarter than I.

Anyways, be careful. These kind are critical situations, don't do anything unless you have an "at least reasonable certainty of what you are doing". I usually recommend professionals - it'll cost a bit, but it should be more safe and secure than testing - testing - testing...

All the very best.


Fantastic Member
Microsoft MVP
I have never tried to convert a Fat16 to Fat32 or NTFS, but I suspect you might loose the data when doing so.
I have used the convert command to convert dozens of Fat32 drives to NTFS drives and never had any problems with lost data, corruption, or boot failures.

That said, I suspect if I had a sudden power outage or hardware failure during the conversion process, the drive would have been converted into a brick. So it would be unwise to convert without creating a backup of your data first.

I never converted Fat16 to Fat32 - I simply reformatted - so I cannot speak to that operation.

This website is not affiliated, owned, or endorsed by Microsoft Corporation. It is a member of the Microsoft Partner Program.