[Solved] You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it

Camilla Mo, in Technical Tips

If you are asked to format the disk when you plug in external device like USB flash drive, SD card, in case data lost , don’t format disk immediately. In some cases, the device still won’t work even it’s formatted.

The error message will appear like this. Note that the drive name will be different according to the device you are using. For instance, if your device is displayed as E: in your computer, the error message will be “You need to format the disk in drive E: before you can use it”.

When you meet this problem, try solutions here first. which are easy to follow. 

Solution 1: Try different USB ports 

Plug your device in another USB port and see if the problem persists. Try all USB ports that you have on your PC. 

Solution 2: Recover the disk using Windows DOS (Data won’t be lost.)

Follow these steps:

1. Press Win+R (Window key and R key) at the same time. A Run dialog box will appear. 
2. Type cmd in the run box and click OK button.  

Note that you are required to run this as administrator. If not, you would get prompt message. If you are not sure how to run as administrator, see How to Open Command Prompt as Administrator in Windows.

3. Type chkdsk <Your hard disk letter>: /f. Then press Enter key.

Your hard disk letter means the name of your hard disk shown in computer. For instance, if your hard disk is named as “G”, just type “chkdsk G: /f”. Following screen shot is for your reference. The process won’t finish until the verification is 100% completed. 

Solution 3: Run Antivirus software to scan your computer

The problem can be caused by virus. If you have installed Antivirus software, use it to scan your computer to detect the problem. 

Solution 4: Test the device on another computer

Plug the device to another computer. If the problem still persists, the device most probably is damaged. You might need to replace it with a new one.

Help Us Improve Article
  • Bernando

    Chkdsk work perfectly

  • Prashanth S
    • Camilla Mo

      Hi Prashanth,

      Have you tried all of the solutions in this article?

  • Prashanth S

    Plz Help me sir

  • Amit

    Thanks a lot…the chkdsk trick did it!!

  • Racheal Wacera

    Thank you….my problem has been solved

  • Shawn Colton

    THANK YOU! You saved my ass! chkdsk method fixed the problem! I LOVE YOU!

  • Bhenz Garcia

    not working with my external HDD!
    When I plugged my external HDD , it doesn’t have letter and not in disk management.

  • vijay link

    My big problem has solved. thank you so much

  • vijay link

    what type of virus

  • vijay

    Thanks so much my big problem has solved

  • sandy margallo

    Won’t the chkdsk command give me fragments of the files, all of which will be too hard to sort out? Please help. I took last minute engagement photos of my friends and now i cannot access them because windows is telling me that i need to fomat the drive

  • Tanmay Pal

    thanks guys..my problem is solved

    • sandy margallo

      Which method did you use?

      • Tanmay Pal

        option 3 ie chkdsk : /f. method.

  • Rodrigo Bao


    • Camilla Mo

      Hi Rodrigo Bao,

      I am glad that it helps.

  • David

    it didn’t work for me though. “The type of the file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.”

    what do I do next?

    • Amit

      My drive apears RAW type thats why it cannot check disk in cmd. This probleme is occur when i partion my local disk E. Please help me. To solve my problem.

  • Charles KEGBE

    Just wonderful,
    Thanks a lost you just save me.

  • Ali


  • Chesir

    Perfect solution.Thanks

  • Nazir Hashmi

    i am very happy to solve my disk i:

  • sheragha

    my usb want to format disk my usb problem don’t solved of this way please help me

  • phonefather

    thanks for the solution. that really save myAss
    i appreciate…..more grease to your elbow


    thanks dude

    thank you very much for the help

    keep reinventing

    Best regards

    Bariya Ravi

  • donald

    Worked for me..thanks

  • lan

    work to me…my external normally ok.

  • Abubakar

    my hard rive is asking me You need to format disk in drive before you can use it ? My hard drive is 1TB what caused ?
    What do i solve this problem ?
    Help me.

  • fridayshegun

    Thanks this work so perfectly

  • VivusMortuus

    Thank you so much for this . I have solved the problem, it was too easy without using necessary application etc…

  • Farhan

    i followed several suggestions online but they were lengthy and complicated and needed me to download recovery softwares, but this one works fine and easy just took 2 minutes

  • Thomas Dohling

    What about external HDD? Couldn’t fix 2 external HDD.