You need to format the disk in drive before using it | [Solved]


The error You need to format the disk in drive before using it is a common error encountered when external drives are connected. This article is a complete guide if you are looking for the solutions to fix the error or to access data from the drive without formatting. Follow the write up to know the best workarounds to recover data from the drive and fit the error.

Error You need format the disk in drive before using it

Why does my external drive say it needs to be formatted?

The error- You need to format the disk in drive before using it; is a common error that appears when you connect your external drives like SD card, USB or any other external drives to your PC.  The error indicates that the file system is corrupted or damaged, without having it formatted the drive cannot be accessed.

What could be the reasons behind the error? Let us see the most common reasons and the solutions to fix the error in the coming sections of the article.

Causes of “You need to format the disk in drive before using it” error

  1. The error is very common among external drives, this is mainly because they are regularly used on various devices that use respective file systems. Also, there could be a potential virus or malware already existing on the computer.
  2. System crash and excessive disk fragmentations also lead to the error prompting to format the disk in drive before using it. 
  3. If you connect the drives that are formatted with a different file system other than NTFS, a file system generally used in your Windows computers.
  4. Bad sectors on the drive are another reason for the drive to become unavailable. If the sectors on the drive are damaged, data becomes inaccessible and cannot be read by the user.

When you encounter such an error prompt requesting you to format, avoid opting for the formatting option. Formatting is not the recommended way to fix the error as the format function erases the complete data present on the drive and you will no longer be able to access the data.

How can I access the data in the drive without formatting?

It is not possible to access the drive when the file system is corrupted. You need to troubleshoot the problem. However, few troubleshooting methods might lead to permanent data loss from the drive. It is always recommended to recover data from the drive using a safe and secure External hard drive recovery software before trying any fixing methods.

SFWare Hard Drive Recovery tool is an automated way to recover data from the corrupt drive. It is designed with advanced data recovery algorithms that efficiently recover inaccessible data from the drive. The deep scan feature of the software goes through each and every sector of your drive to find lost or inaccessible files. Click on the download button now and restore all your important data from the drive.

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How to Recover Data from The Drive Asking to Format?

Download and install the SFWare External Drive Recovery software on your computer. Connect the external drive to your PC and launch the application to recover inaccessible files.

  1.   From the main screen select Recover Files and choose the drive from which you need to recover files.
    Recover files from drive asking to format
  2. Now, scanning process initiates. After the completion of the scanning process, recovered files will be displayed in Data View or File Type View. View the recovered files according to your convenience.
    Select the drive to recover data
  3.   Preview the recovered deleted files from the flash drive. If you are satisfied with the result, save the recovered files.
    Preview the recovered files

Once the data has been recovered, you can try the following methods to fix the error need to format the drive.

How to fix the error “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it”?

There are several methods to fix the error you need to format the disk before using it. A few of the easy and best worked DIY methods are explained below.

Before moving further to any of the methods to fix the error try these basic verification steps:

  1. Connect your drive to a different USB port of your PC. Open File Explorer and verify if you can access the drive.
  2. If connecting the drive to other USB port doesn’t fix the error, connect the drive to different PC and try accessing the data in it.
  3. If the error is due to viruses, scan the drive using antivirus and remove any potential or existing threats.
  4. If you are using an external hard drive, try to connect the drive directly via the SATA connector. SATA is a simple cable keyed to fit on the drive and motherboard. Connect one end of the SATA cable to the hard drive and the other end to an available SATA port on your motherboard.

After performing the above basic verifying steps, if the error still appears on your screen, move forward to the advanced methods to fix the error ” you need to format the disk in drive: before using it”.

Method 1: Update  or Reinstall Device Driver

Updating or the reinstalling of the device driver helps you to establish the connection between the hard drive and the system software. 

Step 1: Right-click on Start and select Device Manager

Step 2: Expand the Disk drives and right-click on the disk you need to fix the error

Step 3: Choose the option of Uninstall Device and then restart the system

Step 4: You can also, select the option to update the driver to fix the error

You may also download an updated disk driver from the drive manufacturer’s support site and install it manually.

Method 2: Use an Error Checking Tool

This tool helps you to check the drive for system file errors. Follow the steps to verify and fix the error You need to format the disk before you can use it.

Error Checking Tool to fix formatting errorStep 1: Open File Explorer, right-click on the drive you need to check for the error

Step 2: Select Properties and go to the Tools tab

Step 3: Click on the Check button and then Scan the drive

Note: In case you see an error or a prompt to format the disk again, click ‘Cancel’. DO NOT FORMAT the disk. As explained earlier formatting will clear the data saved on the drive. However, unknowingly if you have formatted the drive, do not worry!  you can easily recover the data from the formatted drive and can try the next method to fix the error. 

Method 3: Run CHKDSK to Scan the drive

CHKDSK is the system tool the fixes most of the file system errors. It works for both internal and external drives.

Note: While executing the chkdsk command, if you encounter an error  “The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives”, it indicates that the drives are inaccessible and your important data will be at risk. In such cases, it is recommended to recover data from the RAW drive and next perform the CHKDSK.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt and Run as Administrator

Step 2: Type the following command chkdsk D: /r /f. D is the drive to be fixed.

Step 3: Windows will initiate to check and repair disk errors and damaged files. Wait for the process to finish.

Step 4: Wait until the process completes and verify whether the drive still prompts the error when you connect the external drive to your computer. 

The above-mentioned are some of the methods to fix the error “You need to format the disk in the drive before using it”.


Errors such as the one discussed above could be unavoidable.  However, you can avoid missing out on your important data by keeping a backup of it. Having no backup can be risky, especially at times when the disk is formatted unintentionally. You can still recover your data with the help of SFWare recovery tool. 

The methods mentioned above should help you to fix the errors. Do share your feedback on the overall troubleshooting experience error in the comment section below.

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