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

Question

Issue: How to fix "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it" error in Windows?

I have an issue with my older external hard drive. I plugged it in today and an error message saying “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it.” Because of this, I am not able to use my files stored on the drive. Is there anything I can do to fix this?

Solved Answer

When attempting to access external storage devices such as external hard drives, USB flash drives, or SD cards, the error message “You need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it” might prevent users from accessing it. This error means that Windows is unable to read the file system on the device, making it inaccessible until formatting is done.

As a result, users might not be able to access data located on the drive, as the error prompts them to format the drive. However, you should not do that before following the instructions to fix the “You need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it” error as described below.

What causes the error

Errors that might affect Windows systems or files located on them are numerous, and all of them can usually have several causes. One common reason is file system corruption, which can happen due to improper ejection of the device, sudden power loss, or malware attacks. Another common cause is physical damage to the storage device; some users might not notice the damage since it could be internal.

In some cases, the “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it” error may show up due to compatibility issues, especially if the device was formatted using a different operating system. Additionally, outdated or corrupted drivers on your computer can prevent Windows from recognizing the file system on the device.

Potential solutions

There are several ways you can approach the “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it” error, because, as mentioned before, the causes of it aren't universal, so it can differ for each individual.

First, you can try reconnecting the device to another USB port or a different computer to see if it is recognized correctly. If that's the case, the cause is likely to be (the lack of) Windows updates.

If the source of trouble is corrupted drive sectors, running a disk check utility to scan and repair file system errors can be helpful. You can also use specialized data recovery software before formatting the drive to avoid data loss. Formatting the disk will erase all data, so it should be considered a last resort after all recovery attempts have been made. You can find all the detailed instructions for these steps below.

We also recommend using FortectMac Washing Machine X9 repair and maintenance tool as a great way to handle various Windows issues related to system file corruption automatically.

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

Fix 1. Reconnect the device

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Sometimes, simply reconnecting the device to another USB port or a different computer can resolve the issue, as it may be caused by a temporary connection problem or port malfunction.

  • Disconnect the device from the current USB port.
  • Connect it to a different USB port on the same computer.
  • If the issue persists, try connecting the device to another computer.

Fix 2. Update Windows

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It is a known issue that a lack of certain bug fixes from Microsoft can cause issues with external drives. Thus, make sure all Windows updates are installed.

  • Type Updates in the Windows search box and press Enter.
  • Click Check for Updates or Install all.
  • Ensure optional and pending updates are installed as well.
  • Wait till the process is finished.
  • Restart your device.

Update Windows

Fix 3. Update drivers

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Outdated or corrupted drivers can prevent Windows from recognizing the file system on the device. Updating the drivers ensures compatibility and proper functionality. For an easy way to install drivers automatically, try DriverFix.

  • Right-click on Start and pick Device Manager.
  • Locate the external storage device under Disk Drives.
  • Right-click on the device and select Update driver.
  • When prompted, pick Search automatically for drivers.
  • Follow the prompts to search for and install any available updates.
  • Restart your computer.

Update driver

Fix 4. Run Check Disk

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect Mac Washing Machine X9.

The disk check utility can scan and repair file system errors on the device, which might be causing the issue.

  • Type cmd in Windows search.
  • Right-click on Command Prompt and pick Run as administrator.
  • User Account Control window will show up – click Yes when prompted.
  • In the new window, type in the following command and press Enter after:
    chkdsk c: /f
    (Note: use chkdsk c: /f /r /x command if you are using SSD. Also, replace c: with the external drive letter assigned upon insertion)
  • If you receive an error, type in Y, close down Command Prompt, and restart your computer.
  • Wait till the scan is finished.

Run Chekc Disk

Fix 5. Use data recovery software

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect Mac Washing Machine X9.

Before formatting, using data recovery software can help retrieve important files from the device.

  • Download and install reputable data recovery software.
  • Launch the software and select the problematic drive.
  • Follow the instructions to scan for recoverable files.
  • Save the recovered files to a different storage location.

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Data recovery tools can prevent permanent file loss

Data recovery software is one of the options that could help you recover your files. Once you delete a file, it does not vanish into thin air – it remains on your system as long as no new data is written on top of it. Data Recovery Pro is recovery software that searchers for working copies of deleted files within your hard drive. By using the tool, you can prevent loss of valuable documents, school work, personal pictures, and other crucial files.

About the author
Jake Doe
Jake Doe - Computer technology geek

Jake Doe is the news editor at UGetFix. Since he met Ugnius Kiguolis in 2003, they both launched several projects that spread awareness about cybercrimes, malware, and other computer-related problems.

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