How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Formatted Error

Daisy updated on Jul 04, 2019 to Resource | How-to Articles


My external hard drive says it needs to be formatted, how to fix unformatted hard drive? While facing such a question, try EaseUS recovery software to retrieve your data before fixing the disk by formatting. It can be also applied for fix not formatted error on memory card or USB drive without any problems.

Overview of External Hard Disk Format Error 

My external hard drive says it needs to be formatted

"Recently, I ran into a problem when accessing my Seagate 160 GB External Hard Drive. Every time when I turn it on, Windows says that my external hard drive is not formatted and asks me if I want to format it. It's really annoying! How can I fix this problem without losing my data?"

A similar error message is that you need to format the disk before you can use it. Here, before discussing how to fix the unformatted hard drive, let's talk about why hard disk format error pops up. Here is the explanation:

Every floppy and hard disk need to be formatted to prepare the media for use with a particular file system. In this case, this error usually happens when your disk hasn't been prepared for use with your OS or it has been damaged and the data can no longer be read. Next, we will introduce you how to fix the annoying problem.

A quick video guide

This video tutorial offers you a straightforward way to deal with the exact situation. Follow the video to manage this job with professional hard drive recovery software.

If you prefer a detailed step-by-step guide to fix the same error, you may also choose to follow below two solutions: reconnect to read external hard drive to other PC or restore data with hard drive recovery software and then convert the external hard drive from raw to NTFS. Follow the detail solutions to fix this error now.

Method 1. Retry with another computer

When encountered the error message on an external hard disk, first you can try to plug it into a different USB port or plug it into another computer. Sometimes it works.

1) Connect the external hard drive to another PC.

2) Right-click on Computer/This PC > Check whether this external hard drive shows up or not.

  • If it shows up with data, you can try to open it and get all the data;
  • If nothing shows up on the external hard drive, you may follow method 2 to continue.

Method 2. Change raw to NTFS

In this method, you need 2 steps to fix the issue. And it can be also applied to fix format error on the memory card, internal hard drive or USB drive. Let's see the exact steps and get problems solved now:

First, recover data from the not formatted hard drive

You can try EaseUS hard drive recovery software - Data Recovery Wizard Professional to restore your data to computer first, ensuring data security. There is another tutorial shows how to recover data from a formatted memory card. Only 3 steps will do and it's fully compatible with all Windows systems such as Windows 10/8/7 etc.

Step 1: Choose the partition

  • Launch EaseUS formatted data recovery software after the installation.
  • Choose the hard drive which you've accidentally formatted.
  • Click "Scan".
select the formatted hard drive and click scan

Step 2: Initiate the scan process

  • Start scanning lost data all over the hard drive.
  • Proceed with the data searching. You'll see more and more data showing up in the scan results.
scan lost data on the formatted hard drive

Step 3: Recover files to a secure location

  • After the scan, browse data in each section, especially in "Lost Partition Files". It's a highlighted feature of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for retrieving data from a formatted hard drive partition.
  • Select the data files you wish to recover.
  • Click "Recover". 

Instead of the original hard drive, choose a different location to save the recovered data.

select wanted data and click recover

Second, reformat the External hard drive

After getting all the wanted data back from the external hard drive, you can reformat the hard drive into reusable again. How?

Open This PC/Computer > Right-click the external hard drive > click Format > Start > OK.
Then your external hard drive will be reusable for storing new data again.


100% of people found this article helpful.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

2. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

3. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

4. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

5. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.