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You Need to Format the Disk before You Can Use It - MiniTool

External hard drive typically have large capacities from gigabytes to terabyte and can be connected to computer via USB port or FireWire…However, in Windows operating system you may encounter the external hard drive not formatted error.

When you plug an external hard drive into your computer and try to access the files on it, if you receive an error message – “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it”, what should you do then? This article will give you a quick guide.

Many users may have ever encountered such a case that after they connect an external hard drive and try to open it, an error message – “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it” pops up, which blocks them from accessing the files on the drive.

Why My External Hard Drive Needs to Be Formatted

They typically have large capacities from gigabytes to terabyte and can be connected to computer via USB port or FireWire…However, in Windows operating system you may encounter the external hard drive not formatted error.

Possible Reasons:

First and foremost, we would like to show you reasons that may lead to this error.

In this way, you can avoid the improper operations to your external hard drive OR prevent the terrible things from happening in the coming days. Below are the possible reasons:

1) The external hard drive suffers from sudden power outage when it is used to transfer files or something else;
2) The external hard drive is improperly pulled out or forced to pull out instead of safely removed from PC;
3) The external hard drive gets virus attack and file system gets corrupted;
4) There are bad sectors on the external hard drive.
5) More for discovering…

Misunderstanding of External Hard Drive Needs Formatting Error:

When running into external hard drive needs to be formatted error, most users have such misunderstanding: they think they have to take Windows' suggestion and have to format the hard drive without other solutions. Because in their minds, only when they can open the external hard drive, they are able to access files stored on the drive.

The reality? It is true that formatting enables you to regain the access to the external hard drive, but have you ever think about the consequence once you have formatted the external hard drive? Yes, you will find no files on the drive after formatting.

Therefore, keep this in mind: DO NOT format your external hard drive before you take out data rescue. Formatting should be the last resolution because you will lose the file structure (folders, organization, file names…) Taking all these into account, we put forward the following solutions.

3 Solutions to External Hard Drive Needs Formatting

Solutions here are deeply related to whether you have made a full back up of your external hard drive. If you have made one, then congratulations! You can go ahead formatting the external hard drive and then copy data back. But if you have not made a piece of backup, you'd better go ahead reading the following content. What should you do to recover data from hard drive keeps asking formatting?

Try the Easy Things First

1) Connect it to another USB port or another operating system and see if you can read the files.
2) Take your chance to restart your computer and see if God opens another door for you.
3) Run anti-virus software to check and kill possible viruses on the external hard drive.

These may seem meaningless but sometimes they do help people get out of trouble. If no miracle happens, try the second solution.

Check Your Hard Drive for Errors

1) Press Win + R keys to call out the Run box.
2) Type "cmd" into the blank and hit Enter key.
3) Type "chkdsk o:/f" (if your external hard drive is Drive o:) into the Command Prompt window, you can replace the letter "O" if your external hard drive is not "O".
4) Press Enter key and it will start repairing damaged files and you will see some of your filenames before it finally asks if you want to save lost chains to another location. Type "Y" just in case.

CHKDSK usually takes some time to fix the error, so please be patient. If CHKDEK can run this process normally, your external hard drive may become normal as before. Then you can try again accessing your external hard drive after restart your computer.

However, if you are unable to go through this process, and encounter the following message: the type of the file system is RAW, CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives, what should you do?

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Any other tips on how to restore files from not formatted external hard drive?

Recover Data before You Format External Hard Drive

First Move: recover files from not formatted hard drive

As a matter of fact, the data in the external hard drive may get recovered as long as they are not overwritten. So remember the more changes you have made, the less chances you have for data recovery. Here you have two options to recover data from not formatted hard drive.

1) Send the external hard drive to professional data recovery center to get off data technically. This will usually cost you a sum of money.
2) Try professional free data recovery software by yourself before you pay a penny.

If you choose option 1, jump to the second move - format external hard drive.
If you choose option 2, you just keep reading from here.

So, how to recover data from not formatted drive? Well, you need to use data recovery software without altering the data on the drive. You can download MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition which is an excellent program that brings easy file recovery to Windows users. With five data recovery modules, you can easily recover the mainstream file types on audio, video, image, email, etc…

5 data recovery scenarios:
1) Undelete recovery: recover deleted files even you have emptied the Recycle Bin.
2) Lost partition recovery: recover files from lost/deleted partitions. For example, it helps to recover data lost by diskpart clean.
3) Damaged partition recovery: recover files from formatted hard drive, damaged hard drive and RAW drive.
4) Digital Media Recovery: recover files from digital media like flash drive, memory stick, memory card, etc. 
5) CD/DVD Recovery: recover files from formatted/scratched CD/DVD.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery works great on Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, both 32 bit and 64 bit.

Follow these steps to carry out data recovery process from not formatted external hard drive:

Step 1. Launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery, and then select "Damaged Partition Recovery".

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Step 2. By observing the volume information, you can easily find the external hard drive which needs formatting. Just select it and have a "Full Scan" (We take a 16 GB SanDisk flash drive for example here). The scanning time depends on the capacity of your data in it.

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Step 3. When the scanning is finished, Power Data Recovery will show you the files it has found on the hard drive in a tree structure. For pictures and .txt files, you can click "Preview" to confirm whether they are the ones you need. Finally, check all files needs recovering and press "Save" button to keep them to a safe location (should be different from the original location).

Tip: you can press "Filter" button to choose specific file types to be shown in the middle pane.

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Second move: format external hard drive

Now it is time for you to format the external hard drive to regain access. Here you can make use of Disk Management utility or MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition. Both are OK to help format your external hard drive with ease. Their difference is the latter one offers more file systems and is more flexible in formatting. For example, you can format hard drive larger than 32GB to FAT32 with this partition manager.

① Use MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Free:

Step 1. Launch this free partition manager to get the main interface. Find the external hard drive that needs to be formatted and click "Format" from the action panel.
Step 2. Select the desired file system and press "OK".
Step 3. Back to the main interface, hit "Apply" to execute the formatting.

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② Use Disk Management:

Step 1. Press Win + R keys at the same time to call out the Run box. Then type "diskmgmt.msc" and hit OK.
Step 2. In the disk map area, right-click the external hard drive needs to be formatted and choose "Format" from the shortcut menu.
Step 3. Select the desired file system and click OK.
Step 4. When you see a warning massage which reads "formatting this volume will erase all data on it", you just click "OK" to continue.
Step 5. Wait for Disk Management to finish the work. If the process fails, read How Can You Fix "The Format Did No…te Successfully"?

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Category: Data Recovery ServicesCompany about: MiniTool Solution Ltd. is a software development company based in Canada. As a dedicated software development company, MiniTool Solution Ltd. provides customers with complete business software solutions in the data recovery and partition management industry.
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