When a hard drive suddenly becomes “raw” or “uninitialized” due to some form of failure, it can take careful work by data recovery experts to retrieve the lost data from the drive. At Gillware’s data recovery lab in Madison, Wisconsin, we provide raw partition recovery services for hard drives and other storage devices.
A “raw” or “uninitialized” partition is a result of logical data corruption, often caused by some form of physical fault. In a raw partition, all of the data will appear to be missing—and we mean all of it. You might not even be able to assign the partition a drive letter.
This is because it’s not really a partition. It’s more like the conspicuous absence of a partition. A partition on your hard drive is basically a big container for your data. One sector on the disk in particular defines the “shape” of that container. This sector is the superblock. When the superblock becomes corrupted or appears missing, your computer doesn’t know where the partition starts, where it ends, or what filesystem it uses in between those two points.
This basically tricks your computer into thinking it’s looking at a brand new drive that hasn’t been partitioned yet. This is an “uninitialized”, or “raw” hard drive. In these situations, the problem often has to do with a corrupted boot sector, partition table, or superblock. It can also happen if certain portions of the hard drive’s platters have been damaged, or if the read/write heads are beginning to fail.