How to Fix Format Disk Error?

Summary- Getting an error saying “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it”, every time you try to access your external storage device? Worry not, this article will help you to fix format disk errors easily and along with recovering your data. You can fix the Format Disk Error without formatting by using CMD in Windows manually. But if you have already tried CMD and it failed to scan the device, you can make use of Remo partition recovery software. It will assist you in recovering files from the drive and then format the external storage device to easily fix the Format Disk Error. Download the tool now and fix the issue.

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It is a very frustrating situation when you are not able to access the External Hard Drive, or USB drive in the computer due to errors such as “You need to format the disk in drive”, “The volume does not contain file system” and “The file or directory is corrupted or unreadable”. And the situation worsens when you need to immediately access the data in the storage device. But you cannot format the drive to get rid of the error and remain stuck in the situation as formatting will delete all the data.

How to Fix Format Disk Error?

Why do I get a format disk error on my computer?

You can get a format disk error because of various reasons that lead to a file system corruption. It happens very often that if you frequently force unplug your external Hard drive, SD card, USB, or any other removable device without using the Safely Remove option. It results in partition table corruption of the device. The partition becomes RAW which ultimately becomes unreadable for Windows. Because of this, you might receive the disk format error message "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it. Do you want to format it?" when you try to access the storage device. 

Because the file system that holds all the file-related data has now become RAW, thus without this information, the computer is not able to access any file stored in the drive. The PC will suggest formatting the drive in order to make the storage drive again functional. However, it is a difficult choice for the user as formatting the drive will erase all the precious data in the drive. 

Reasons behind “You Need to Format the Disk in Drive Before You Can Use It” Error

  • Corrupted file system: When the computer show errors such as “The volume does not contain file system”, “The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable”. These are indications that the file system is corrupted.
  • Bad sectors: In case there is a bad sector formed at the location where the file system is stored, files in the drive cannot be accessed. A format disk error message such as “You need to format the disk in drive X: before you can use it” will be shown, asking the user to format the drive before using it.
  • Virus or Malware attacks: A virus infection to the hard drive can severely damage the file system. 
  • Compatibility: When a USB drive or memory card that is connected to the computer contains a file system that is not recognized by the computer. This can happen because the USB or SD card is formatted with a different file system that is not recognized by the computer. Therefore the computer asks the user to format the file before using it.

If you are in one of these situations and looking to fix format disk errors without losing the data on the drive, you have landed at the right place. Here you will get to know how to fix the "You need to format the disk in drive" error.

Methods to fix format disk error Without Formatting the Drive:

1. Scan the computer with antivirus:

As we have understood that viruses can damage the file system. Running an antivirus scan on the computer can remove any potential virus on the computer. Also scanning the computer with antivirus will stop the virus from damaging the computer even more. This solution might help in fixing format disk errors without formatting.

Also, you can try to use a different computer port to connect the external storage device or a different computer to check if the file system is recognized.  

2. Fix Format Disk Error using CHKDSK in CMD Without Formatting the Drive

This is one of the effective methods that can help solve the Format disk error or “The file directory is corrupted or unreadable” error with the Windows built-in utility. The command helps in identifying any bad sectors as well as the corrupted or missing file system. Perform the below steps to remove the fix format disk error.

  • Press the Windows + R key on the keyboard
  • Now, in the search field type “cmd
  • In the command prompt type “chkdsk H: /f” and hit enter. (replace H with the drive letter that has to be fixed)

Fix Format Disk Error using CMD

After the scan is complete, exit from the command prompt and restart the computer. Now check the volume again for its functionality. Sometimes, if the drive is RAW the CHKDSK can also return an error message stating "CHKDSK not available for raw drives". Hence, you need to be aware that the CHKDSK may or may not help you solve the issue all the time.

In case the scanning is unsuccessful, the only other way to fix the format disk error is by formatting the drive. However, it is recommended to recover data from the formatted hard drive. If you have already formatted the drive while trying to fix the format disk error, move on to the next section to recover lost data from the hard drive.

3. Recover Data and then Fix Format Disk Error

Now that you know the only way to fix format disk error is to format the hard drive, it is important that you restore your important from the hard drive before you format. Now the question is how do you recover data from inaccessible hard drives?

All you need is professional hard drive data recovery software that can help you recover data and allow you to fix format disk errors by formatting the hard drive. However, choosing the right tool to perform data recovery is quite a task. It is recommended to make use of a reliable tool that is trustworthy and safe to recover lost data such as Remo Recover.

With more than a million downloads and winning an award for its excellence in performing data recovery, Remo is the best and safest choice for you. It will help you to recover data from a hard drive or any other storage device that has a format disk error. The deep scan engine of the tool is designed to sweep every storage sector of the problematic device to recover data. The tool works successfully for all storage devices that are facing severe data loss scenarios and errors including format disk errors, boot sectors, corruption, or formatted hard drives. Download and Try the tool for free now. 


STEP 1: How to Recover Data Before Formatting?

To recover data before formatting you need this professional tool Remo Recover as discussed in the previous segment. Formatting the drive will create a new file system and the data present in the drive will be erased. Therefore it is important to recover data in the drive before formatting. 

Note: If you have already formatted the storage device refer to this article to Recover files after format

Download and install the Remo recover software and perform the below steps.

  • Launch the application, and in the main screen select Recover Partition at the top right corner

Fix Format Disk Error using Remo Recover

  • Next, select the physical disk, i.e the drive that is showing the format disk error, and click on Scan
  • Once the scanning is complete, the recovered data will be shown in File type view and Data View, select the appropriate tab and browse for the needed files

Fix Format Disk Error using Remo Scan hard drive option

  • If the data required is not found in the list, click on Deep Scan
  • After finding the data, double-click on the recovered file to Preview
  • Next, click on Save and provide a storage location to save the recovered data

Save the recovered data from drive

Note: Never save the recovered data on the same drive that has been restored.

After recovering the data, perform the below-mentioned steps to format the drive, and fix the format hard disk error.

STEP 2: How to Fix Disk Format Error?

You need to format the disk in drive

  • Click on Start at the bottom left corner
  • Type Disk Management in the search field
  • Right-click on the hard drive that has to be formatted, select format from the pop-up list
  • Give a descriptive name for the drive in the Value label field.
  • Choose NTFS in the file system dropdown.

format the disk in drive with NTFS

  • Check the Perform a quick format option and click OK
  • After formatting restart the computer and check the drive for its functionality

Add-on: The tool also works for fixing SD card cards error like “Can’t format SD card”.


When the storage drive is having an error, it is always better to fix the issue before formatting. Run the antivirus scan or perform the steps for chkdsk as mentioned in the above article. In the case of an external hard drive or USB, check the drive by connecting it to a different computer, if the drive works on another device, time spent on fixing the device can be avoided.

In case if you have a formatted hard drive use data recovery software to retrieve data from the computer. When it comes to recovering data from a corrupted storage drive, use Remo Recover to quickly recover the data in the drive.

How to Fix Format Disk Error? was last modified: October 26th, 2021 by Molly Owen

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