This page introduces methods to recover files from cf card (raw files included) no matter the images were deleted or lost due to human misoperations or when the cf card suddenly went wrong and reported errors.
The case: Compactflash became RAW, has unknown file system, needs formatting, unreadable; how do I recover raw files from my cf card?
"I have a Lexar CF card for my digital camera, but it has RAW format error and disables me to access any file on the compact flash card. As long as I attempt to access any data, CF card tells that I need to format the card before I can use it. What should I do to fix the compactflash card not formatted RAW error? How can I get back files on a RAW Lexar CF card for digital camera?"
Resolution: It is common that CF card will report not formatted error message when its file system has changed to RAW due to improper use or virus and Windows/camera cannot recognize its damaged file system.
Video - How to fix raw cf card not formatted error
When unreadable CF card has RAW format error, the first thing you must do is to stop using the card. Then, you can attach the CF card to your computer and try iCare Data Recovery software to recover files from RAW CF card or perform RAW file recovery from compact flash card.
You can easily recover data off an unformatted compact flash card with CF card recovery software tutorial below:
Step1. Attach CF card to PC. Run the data recovery utility and select a recovery option.
Step2. Go to select the CF card to scan.
Step3. You can preview the found files after scanning. Then, you can choose the files you need and recover them.
Pay attention: Do not save CF card data to the same compact flash card to avoid data overwriting.
You may get your compact flash card turned to fat32, ntfs, exfat or any one that could be recognized in devices, just not the raw unformatted state. And right click formatting cf card on pc would be a fast choice.
Please do make sure you have already restored everything you needed from the compactflash card to somewhere else since the formatting would erase files.
Here are some useful cf card format utilities/software that you may use to get cf card formatted.
Besides a right click format option, Windows also provides a formatting for cf card if you insert it in computer, and right click it under Disk Management to get it formatted.
How to format cf card in Windows 10/11 disk management? This route:
This free tool can not only format cf card, but also provide cf card repairing with its 'Check Partition' option.
Download IM-Magic Partition Resizer Free Edition to format disk/usb/memory card totally free of charge.
Format, repair bad blocks totally free of charge.
When cf card is unable to be formatted, there are many causes, such as
Here is the cmd that can help solve unable to format cf card error.
Rufus in a Windows based utility that can help format compact flash card for free.
Rufus download url: https://github.com/pbatard/rufus/releases/download/v3.11/rufus-3.11.exe
Quick Format vs. Full Format RAW CF Card
When CF card tunrs to RAW format, you may perform quick format on the card. Or you might full format the CF card since full format will check and repair possible bad sectors on the cf card.
Windows Was Unable to Format RAW CF Card
Well, when you attempt to format the RAW CF card to change its file system back to FAT32, you may meet another problem that Windows reports it was unable to complete the format on the CF card. Usually, when Windows reports this alert message, you may be unable to successfully format the Compact flash card from RAW to FAT32 whether by quick format or full format.
When the file system of Compact Flash card changes to RAW, you may get some other error message related to the RAW problem. For example:
CF Card RAW - CHKDSK RAW Error on CF Card
You can run CHKDSK tool to check CF card when it has RAW format, in which situation you may receive similar message like "The type of the file system is RAW. Chkdsk is not available for RAW drives". When CF card is in RAW format when using CHKDSK command, you had better not format the card at once because formatting will erase everything on the card and mark the space as empty so that new data can be written there.
If you accidentally write new data to the CF card after reformatting, the original data might be overwritten. Once the original data has been overwritten, you will lose the chance to get it back. In the other words, as long as the data is not overwritten, you can rely on iCare Data Recovery software to retrieve any type of files from CF card even when you receive CHKDSK RAW error message.
The reason why you get CF card not formatted error message is that computer/camera cannot recognize the RAW file system, so it asks you to format the CF card to convert its file system RAW to FAT32/exfat/fat/ntfs which can be recognized normally by Windows/Android system.
When CF card is in RAW file system or unknown file system, you will receive such kind of unformatted error message when you want to open the cf card.
YES, no matter it's an old cf card or a new cf card, it needs to be formatted on camera for data storage if the camera/pc cannot recognize its storage. Formatting is an efficient way of fixing damaged cf card.
To fix the not formatted error, you can format the CF card when data has been recovered successfully. If you mistakenly formatted CF card before data recovery, you can still recover images from RAW CF card after format before the space is taken over by new files.
When raw images were deleted by mistake, they were not permanently removed until new data took their spaces. The recovery can be performed by special recovery tools.
If the images were deleted a long time ago and you kept using your cf card for storing new images, then the removed raw images might get corrupted due to data overwritting.