How to Repair Corrupted Hard Disk Without Formatting

Updated on November 8th, 2021

Rohit Arora

Summary: Do you want to fix a corrupted hard drive without formatting? In this blog, we’ll walk you through the common reasons for hard disk corruption and some efficient ways to fix corrupted hard disk without formatting. If you can’t access your corrupted hard disk, recover data using a reliable software, such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Windows.

How to Repair Corrupted Hard Disk Without Formatting

Hard disk corruption is one of the common situations that Windows users experience. The hard disk drive may get corrupted due to multiple reasons. Sometimes, when you try to access a corrupted hard drive, it shows an error message, “You need to format the disk in drive: before you can use it.” 

We’ve come across various users’ queries about finding ways for hard disk repair without formatting or understanding the consequences, i.e., permanent data loss. We’ve shared below some effective methods to fix corrupted hard drive without formatting. Read on to know more!

What Causes Hard Drive Corruption?

There are several reasons that can cause hard drive corruption, such as:

  • File System errors
  • Read/Write issues
  • Software bugs
  • Virus attack
  • Damaged MBR on the disk
  • Bad sectors on the hard drive
  • Poor operating conditions
  • Power supply and connection
  • Physical damage

Now that you’re aware of the causes, let’s proceed with fixing the corrupted hard drive.

How to Repair Corrupted Hard Disk without Formatting?

You can try the below-given DIY (do-it-yourself) methods for hard drive repair.

Quick Reach:

  1. Run Antivirus Scan on your Hard Disk
  2. Run Command Prompt to Check for File System Errors and Bad Sectors
  3. Run SFC Scan
  4. Check Hard Disk in Disk Management

Method 1: Run Antivirus Scan on your Hard Disk

Malware or viruses can lead to hard drive corruption. You can run a malware scan on your hard disk to get rid of the issue. Windows comes with a built-in antivirus program – Windows Defender Antivirus. To run a scan, follow these steps:

  • Press Windows + I to open System Settings and then navigate to Update & Security > Windows Security.
  • Now, click Virus & threat protection on the right panel.
Virus & Threat Protection
  • The tool will scan the device. If it detects any virus, you’ll see it in the scan results.
  • Follow the further instructions given on the screen (if any) to fix the issues with the hard disk. Then, reboot your system and see if you can access the hard disk now.

Method 2: Run Command Prompt (CMD) to Check for Bad Sectors and File System Errors

Hard drives may also get corrupt due to file system errors or bad sectors. You can fix a corrupted hard drive by running the CHKDSK command in Command Prompt.

Caution: CHKDSK command with /f and /r attributes may fix the corruption in the hard disk. However, the command scans and marks the bad sectors on the disk, due to which Windows doesn’t read or store data from these sectors, eventually causing data loss. Therefore, we’d suggest taking backup of hard disk data using a professional data recovery software before performing this method.

Follow the given steps:

  • Open and run Command Prompt as administrator.
  • In the elevated CMD window, type CHKDSK /f/r/D: and hit Enter. (Replace D: with your hard drive letter.)
RUN CHKDSK command
  • Wait for the process to complete. Once done, close the window and reboot your system. Then, see if the hard disk is accessible.

Method 3: Run SFC Scan

SFC (System File Checker) utility in Windows scans and fixes missing or damaged Windows system files. It also checks the integrity of the protected system files and replaces the corrupt ones with the correct versions.

Note: System File Checker enables you to modify the files, which may get damaged if the utility is not used correctly. Hence, it’s better to recover data from the hard drive before proceeding with the process.

Follow the given steps to run SFC scan:

  • Open Command Prompt. In the elevated window, type D: \> SFC/scannow and hit Enter. (Replace D: with your drive letter with which you’re having issues.)
Run SFC Scan
  • The scanning process will initiate.
  • Wait until the process is complete and then reboot your system.
  • Finally, check if the hard disk is accessible and free from errors.

Method 4: Check Hard Disk in Disk Management

Sometimes, the hard disk doesn’t show up in the File Explorer. In this scenario, you need to check if the disk is visible in Disk Management. Follow the given steps:

  • Go to Start by pressing Windows + X and select Disk Management to open it.
Select Disk Management
  • Check if you see any drive showing as Unallocated. If there is any ‘Unallocated’ hard disk, right-click on it and select New Simple Volume.
Select New Simple Volume
  • Click Next > Next > Assign the following drive letter: and choose any letter from the list. Click Next.
choose assign the drive letter
  • Now, see if you can access your hard drive.

If still, you’re not able to access your hard drive, you need to format the drive with the NTFS file system, which will cause permanent data loss. You can choose ‘Do not format this volume.’ This action would convert the corrupted hard drive into a RAW drive. But, don’t worry. You can restore the data from  RAW hard drive using a powerful data recovery software.

Recover Data from Corrupted Hard Drive

You can easily recover data from corrupted hard drive using a reliable data recovery software, such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional. The software supports recovery from formatted, corrupted, or RAW hard drives. The software quickly scans the drive and locates the missing or lost files. To recover data from RAW hard drive, follow the given steps:

  • Install and run Stellar Data Recovery Professional.
  • On the Select What to Recover screen, choose the data you want to retrieve and click ‘Next’.
Select What to Recover
  • On the ‘Recover from’ screen, if you can’t find your hard drive, under ‘Connected Drives,’ click Can’t Find Drives and then click Scan
Click on Scan Button
  • Once the scanning is done, you’ll be able to see the RAW hard drive on the screen.
  • Select the hard drive and click Search.
Search Option
  • After the search is completed, the list of drive partitions will appear on the screen.
  • Choose the drive partition from which you want to recover the data and click Scan.
Select Partition to Recover Data
  • Once the partition scanning is done, the software will list the files, folders, and other data under three panes, i.e., File Type, Tree View, and Deleted List.
  • Choose the data you want to restore and click Recover.
Stellar Data Recovery Professional
  • Click Browse to choose the desired location. (Always select an external hard drive to store the recoverable data to prevent data overwriting.)
Select Destination and Click on Start Saving
  • Finally, click Start Saving to save the recoverable files.
Saving Data

To Wrap Up

Hard drive corruption may occur due to multiple reasons. Using the above-discussed methods, you can repair corrupted hard disks. These methods include running an antivirus scan, CHKDSK, and SFC scan and assigning a drive letter to the drive. However, data loss is associated with some of these methods, if they’re not performed with caution. Therefore, it’s suggested to recover your data first and then follow the discussed troubleshooting methods.


A. What are the symptoms of a failing hard drive?

Common signs of a failing hard drive include clicking or loud component sounds, corrupted files, and sluggish performance. Learn more.

B. How do I fix the ‘Disk Structure Corrupted and Unreadable’ error?

You can fix the ‘Disk Structure Corrupted and Unreadable’ error by:

  • Unplugging and re-plugging the external HDD or USB drive
  • Uninstalling and reinstalling disk drive
  • Running hardware and device troubleshooter
  • Running disk scan for hard drive errors
  • Running CHKDSK command
  • Assigning a file system to the hard drive in Disk Management

Read this guide to learn more…!

C. What’s the difference between CHKDSK F and R?

CHKDSK /F scans the hard drive and repairs errors in the file system overhead information. On the other hand, CHKDSK /R also includes/F. Thus, this command scans the entire disk structure for physical errors and repairs them.

D. Can I recover data from a corrupted hard drive without losing data?

Yes! You can use a reliable data recovery software, such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Windows. It is a DIY software that efficiently retrieves data from formatted, corrupted, and RAW hard drives.

E. Is it possible to recover data from a physically damaged hard drive?

Yes. You may contact professional data recovery service providers, such as Stellar Data Recovery Services. The experts at Stellar open and fixes the physically damaged hard drive in Class 100 Clean Room lab, which consists of the same environment in which the hard drives are manufactured.

About The Author


Aruna Attri is a Senior Data Recovery Expert at Stellar®. She is a technology blogger and Windows expert. She has experience in Windows data recovery domain. She loves to troubleshoot Windows issue and write technical tips and tutorials. 

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  1. Hi,
    My hard drive was partially corrupted, and was not aware of what to do in such a situation. I used your software and it retrieve my data back. Thanks a lot.

  2. How can I apply this chkdsk to a system that primary drive c is bad, please? It is a work station that has two slots for different hard drives. I had to put another pc drive in the slot containing the 500GB that has a bad partition. Now, in this case, chkdsk does not work as intended probably due to the drive belonging to another computer. Please how do I repair this drive successfully? Thanks.

    1. Hi Andy, You can try Stellar Data Recovery Professional software. In this case, you can recover data from the severely corrupted drive as well. However, we do not have any software to repair the drive. You can use the Can’t Find Drive option to scan as well. Thanks

  3. Hi, am almost losing my files in an external hard drive. it’s showing the disk is corrupted and not readable. Have formatted one local disk and tried to follow this platform whereby have downloaded the software (Stellar) yet at the point of recovery it requires an activation key. How can I go about this?

    1. Hi William, if your data is seeing in preview then you will need an activation key to recover data. You can get the activation key via the click on the cart option by clicking on the top left-hand side icon. It will redirect you to the buy page. There you can purchase it and recover the data efficiently. Thanks

  4. Hi, Got a message in dos. Errors found. Chkdsk cannot continue in read-only mode. This is an external hard drive. I was downloading to it and the power went out. Hard drive is now dirty. Windows error check does not work. windows error check scanned for over 6 hours and then closed with no message. Windows 7 computer. USB 3.0 hard drive.

    1. Hi Gray, it seems like that drive has some bad sectors or primary sing of corruption. In this case, you can try the demo version of Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Windows as the drive is corrupted and can recover your data. After, you can take it to the nearest service center for repair. Thanks

  5. Hi, I have an error on my system STOP CODE: CRITICAL SYSTEM DIED, unable to go to safe mode, unable to do a system restore, gives error: you must enable system protection for this drive c: this is a yellow reclamation mark. Not even able to do reset the PC, Please help.

    1. Hello if the system is not able to start in safe mode, then RUN DISM command to repair corrupt system image, perform clean boot action, or can uninstall the latest installed software. Sometimes it makes a problem. Thanks

  6. Good evening, I did everything as written here but still doesn’t work. The Stellar Program too did find my sd card but just can”t find any data when I know there is (“no data found”) so I don’t know what to do anymore: Have any solution for me?

    1. Hi if manual steps did not work for you then it may be possible the physical error in your SD card. Stellar Data Recovery can recover data from storage drives when it shows in disk management. Thanks

  7. Hi, I had bad sectors in my hard drive and it became very crucial for me to recover my data from it. Then I tried your software and recovered my data efficiently. Thank you so much. I really appreciated it.

    1. Hello Mohammed, Thanks for sharing your experience. We glad to know you have recovered your data with stellar data recovery standard.

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