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It’s not rare for Windows users to face disk error messages popping on their screen, such as the “You Need To Format The Disk In Drive Before Using It”. When your disk asks to be formatted, it means that the disk is either damaged or not formatted correctly.
Important: To avoid data loss, don’t click “Format disk” when you see the message “you need to format the disk in drive” pop up.
If you just click on “format disk”, you can lose everything on it forever. To avoid it, you can follow simple solutions and recover everything on your own in a few minutes.
How to fix the “you need to format the disk before you can use it” error
Before taking any measures to fix your external disk, you must remember that some actions can cause further damage, such as permanent data loss. Therefore, only try to fix your disk if you are sure of the steps to take.
Solution 1: Connect the disk to a different computer
You can try simpler actions first, such as connecting the device to another computer. You can also check a different USB port or switch the cables.
Solution 2: Restart the computer and scan the device with an antivirus
Sometimes, a simple restart can resolve the issue. Restart the computer and scan the device with an anti-virus to guarantee you eliminate any minor reason for the error.
If the error persists, follow the next steps:
Boot your computer in Safe Mode. Booting your computer in Safe Mode allows you to scan for viruses without any potential viruses loading. Here’s how to boot in Safe Mode in Windows 10:
- Click the Start menu and select the Power icon.
- Hold down the Shift key and click Restart.
- Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.
- After your computer restarts, select the type of Safe Mode you want to use (4 for Minimal, 5 for Network).
- Scan the computer using your antivirus software and restart it again normally.
After restarting your computer, check the results of the antivirus scan to see if any malware or viruses were detected and removed. If the “you need to format the disk before you can use it” error persists, try the next solution.
Solution 3: Change the drive letter
It can be a long shot, but sometimes a simple drive letter change can restore the disk.
Open Disk Management as administrator. There you can find the volume you need to change or add a letter. Right-click it and select the “Change Drive Letter and Paths” option.
Click on the Change button, and then select a drive letter from the list. Click OK to confirm.
Solution 4: Disk repair utility
You can try to fix the external disk by using a disk repair utility. Disk repair utilities can scan the disk for bad sectors and attempt to recover any data that is still accessible.
Search “cmd” and run it as an administrator. There, type “chkdsk g: /f /r /x” and press “Enter”. The “g” is for the disk location. If your disk is on a different drive, then you’ll use its letter to fix the right disk.
The chkdsk should fix the problem, and you’ll be able to access your disk. If not, keep to solution 2.
Solution 5: Reinstall the device driver
To reinstall or update the drive on Windows you can go to Settings > Update and Security menu.
Click on Windows Update and check the latest version. Go to the device you need to update, and download and install its latest version.
As soon as you finish the update you should not see the formatting message again.
Solution 6: Recover files and format the disk
If the chkdsk repair utility didn’t work, you can try to recover your files using a data recovery software, like the one SalvageData offers.
Download the software and run it to find and back up the files on the disk. Once you have all the files safe and sound, you can format your disk. This will erase all data on the disk and you can continue using it after.
To use the SalvageData macOS data recovery free tool, first, you must download and install the software.
Agree with the terms and conditions and then click on the DATA RECOVERY button.
After that, select the drive you wish to retrieve your files from. Then, click on RECOVER.
Choose the file system and click on SCAN.
Once the scanning process is complete, you can choose from the list which files you want to recover.
Remember that you can’t retrieve overwritten files.
Bonus Solution: Contact a professional
An experienced professional can find the reason behind the “You Need To Format The Disk In Drive Before Using It” error and fix it and also restore any lost or corrupted file.
Reasons the disk asks to be formatted
The problem “you need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it” is more common for Windows users as Disk Management shows the external drive as RAW, blocking access to the files. The main reasons for it are:
- Windows doesn’t recognize the file system
- Sudden power outages while you’re using the drive
- Infected HD with malware or virus
- Not securely remove the disk
- The external hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card can have bad sectors.
Even though your external disk can have manufacturing issues, such as a bad sector, most of the time you can avoid errors. Don’t use your disk on computers you don’t trust and always use an antivirus. And the easiest error prevention: ALWAYS securely remove the drive.
Quick tips to prevent disk errors and data loss
There are a few things that you can do to prevent disk errors from happening.
- Backup: Back up your data regularly. This way, if a disk becomes damaged, you will not lose all your data.
- Securely remove the disk: Eject disks properly before removing them from your computer. If you abruptly remove a disk without ejecting it first, you may damage the disk.
- Prefer quality over price: Be sure to use quality disks. Cheaper disks are more likely to become damaged than higher-quality disks. When buying disks, look for ones that are rated for high reliability.
Don’t format the disk: Finally, if you get a disk error, do not format the disk. This will probably make the problem worse and make it more difficult to recover your data. Instead, try our tips or contact a data recovery center or your disk manufacturer (in case it’s in warranty).