Fix You Need to Format the Disk in Drive | No Data Loss

Get the error message you need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it on an SD memory card, USB drive, or external hard disk? This page shows you how to fix what you need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it in simple ways. Download EaseUS data recovery software for free to restore important files on the disk if you need to format the disk error right now.

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Updated By


Approved By

Martyn Casserly

Updated on

21 May 2024

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9 Min

'You Need to Format the Disk in Drive' Error Overview

"Today, when I plugged my Sandisk SD memory card into my PC, Windows warned me 'You need to format the disk in drive F before you can use it.' Is there any way to fix this error without losing all my data?"

When you unplug an SD card, USB flash drive, external hard drive, or any other removable storage without using the Safely Remove option, you run the risk of the disk partition becoming corrupted. Should this happen, then the device will be unreadable by Windows, prompting the appearance of the 'You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it' warning message.

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

While this is the most common reason for causing a drive to become RAW and rendered unusable, there are some other instances that can create the problem. These include the following:

  • 🔋The storage device suffers from a sudden power outage
  • 🦠The storage device is infected by a virus
  • ❌The file system of the disk is not Windows-compatible, or other file system errors
  • 💽There are bad sectors in the USB flash drive, SD card, memory card, or external hard drive

First of all, you need to learn how to recover data from the hard drive. Keep reading the following parts and learn more.

Recover Data from the Unreadable Drive with Recovery Tool

When the USB flash drive, SD card, or external hard drive becomes unreadable, the first action you need to do is to perform external hard drive recovery with reliable data recovery software. It can recover data from an SD card, memory card, USB drive, or other storage media first, then reformat the drive. 

This allows you to retrieve your data and get the storage device working again without risking any data loss in the process. To recover your files safely, we recommend the reliable data recovery tool - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

This software supports RAW drive recovery; you can retrieve lost documents, videos, and pictures without a backup. These are the steps to take to recover your files with this hard drive recovery software:

Step 1. Select the drive that Windows wants you to format, and click "Scan" to start finding missing files on this drive with this reliable data recovery software.

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Click "Type" can help you quickly locate the lost files and recover data faster. If you want to find lost videos, just check the videos from the list. After selecting all the files you want to restore, click the Recover button.

click type and check the files

Step 3. Select a folder to save these recovered files from your RAW drive or formatted hard drive.

save the recovered files

Step 4. After recovering files from your disk, you can now format your hard drive to fix the error "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it".

If you have successfully recovered data from the storage device, please share this product with more people!


Here is a video tutorial that can help you recover a formatted hard drive:

  • 00:23 What causes data loss
  • 01:28 Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  • 01:37 Wait for the scanning process
  • 02:16 Preview the files
hard drive recovery

Try Some Quick Solutions to Fix This Format Error [4 Ways]

When you see the warning "You need to format the disk in drive D before using it ", it doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong with your external storage device. So, don't hurry to format the disk as the prompt says, as that's the last solution you want to try. Instead, here are a few methods you can use to fix the error.

Before trying anything technical, it's a good idea to rule out any basic issues. With this in mind, here are a few things to check.

  • Try a different computer: Connect your external storage device to another computer, either a Windows PC or Mac. If the device works properly on macOS but not Windows, it's highly likely that the file system of the device is not Windows-compatible.
  • Run antivirus software: The "You need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it" error may be caused by a virus attack. Try running your antivirus software to see if that clears the problem.
  • Try a different USB port: A computer or laptop normally has more than one USB port, and the USB port may suddenly be damaged. So, trying to connect your external drive with a different USB port may fix this error.
  • Restart the computer: Sometimes rebooting Windows 10 or 11 can quickly solve the problem. You can shut down the computer and reboot Windows after a few minutes.

connect external hard drive to another PC

If the methods above aren't successful, don't panic. There are several more options below you can try that will hopefully get your data back safely.

If these basic troubleshooting steps work, don't hesitate to share these methods to help more Windows users!


Fix Format Disk Error with More Detailed Solutions [4 Ways]

When you encounter a disk that needs to be formatted error in Windows, you'll have many more solutions to fix. So you don't need to worry! Keep reading to find a suitable solution.

Tip 1. Fix the Forcely Format Error with Data Recovery Services

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a hugely powerful tool that not only recovers files from RAW disks but also supports deleted file recovery, formatted recovery, Recycle Bin recovery, OS crash recovery, and more. If you have failed to recover files with EaseUS recovery software, you'd better try EaseUS data recovery services.

Most importantly, this service can directly accomplish the RAW disk fix and solve other disk errors without losing data.

Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:

  • Rebuild RAID without losing data, unbootable Windows OS, and corrupted virtual disk file (.vmdk, .vhd, .vhdx, etc.)
  • Recover/repair lost partition and re-partitioned drive
  • Undo quick format on hard drive and repair raw drive (BitLocker encrypted drive)
  • Fix disks that become GPT-protected partitions

Tip 2. Assign a New Drive Letter

If the external hard drive uses the same drive letter as the internal hard disk, this format error may occur. So, it is necessary to change the drive letter of the external hard drive.

Step 1. Right-click the Windows icon, which is next to the search box.

Step 2. Select "Disk Management" from the pop-up list.

select Disk Management

Step 3. Right-click the target drive and choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths...". Then, allow to access this drive and choose a new drive letter.

change drive letter

Tip 3. Check and Repair Your Device with CHKDSK Command

How do you fix "You need to format the disk in the drive" without formatting? Many users have reported that this method has helped them solve the 'format' problem. It involves entering code with Command Prompt, so if you're not confident with this kind of thing, you'll probably want to skip to the next tip instead. Otherwise, here's what you need to do to check and perform hard disk repair.

Step 1. Press the "Windows" key and type cmd to find Command Prompt.

Step 2. Right-click "Command Prompt" and choose "Run as administrator".

Step 3. In the CMD window, type chkdsk G: /f and hit "Enter". (Replace "G" with the drive letter of your external storage device.)

Step 4. Then, Windows will start checking and repairing disk errors and damaged files. Wait for the process to finish and quit Command Prompt.

fix format disk error with cmd

When it has finished, you can try again to read your USB, SD card, or external hard disk after restarting Windows 11 or 10.

If you see the error message 'the file system type is RAW, CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives', you'll need to perform a raw drive recovery to retrieve your data. We cover this method in the next tip. You can also check the detailed solutions in the following article:

The type of file system is RAW. Chkdsk is not available for RAW drives

Fixes for The Type of the File System Is RAW, CHKDSK Is Not Available for RAW Drives

Getting error message 'The type of file system is RAW. Chkdsk is not available for RAW drives'? This page will help you. Read more >>

Tip 4. Reinstall Device Driver

The device driver issue may cause Windows to ask you to format the drive, so reinstalling the driver in the Device Manager may help you resolve this issue. 

Step 1. Like the way you open Disk Management, bring up that menu by right-clicking the Windows icon.

Step 2. Click "Device Manager" for this time.

Step 3. Find the driver you want to reinstall and select it. Then, click the Uninstall Device button, which looks like a red cross.

uninstall driver

Note: You can also click the button next to the red cross to update the USB driver in Windows 11.

If none of the methods we have mentioned can fix the drive that needs to be formatted error, you can follow the prompts to format the disk. After formatting, use EaseUS data recovery software to recover the formatted drive. Don't forget to share all the useful tips on social media!



In addition to the USB drive error we deal with in this article, there are other formatting-related problems that may happen to your external storage device, such as "can't format external hard drive" "the format did not complete successfully or "disk is not formatted".

In these situations, rather than trying to deal with it yourself, it's always a good idea to use the best data recovery software you can find. Remember, the quicker you perform data recovery, the higher the chances you will retrieve your data intact. So, download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard today and ensure that your files stay safe.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

'You Need to Format the Disk in Drive' Error FAQs

Hope you have fixed the "You Need to Format the Disk in Drive' error, and we can offer more information about this error below:

Does formatting a drive delete everything?

Does formatting a drive erase everything? No! Formatting a drive will delete all the saved data on your drive and reset the file system. You need to format the drive when you encounter malware, viruses, and spyware. Formatting only makes it harder to recover files and folders and will not delete everything on your drive. Your data is still on your hard drive before being overwritten.

Why does my drive need to be formatted?

There are plenty of reasons that you need to format your hard drive:

  1. 1. The file system is not recognized by Windows.
  2. 2. Power blackouts that occur suddenly when utilizing the drive.
  3. 3. HD with virus or malware contamination.
  4. 4. The disk wasn't removed securely
  5. 5. Bad sectors may exist on your drive.

How do I recover files from a hard drive that needs formatting?

Using a data recovery tool will be a wise choice. We highly recommend this powerful recovery program - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

  1. 1. Scan the target disk from which you want to rescue data.
  2. 2. Filter and select the files you want.
  3. 3. Choose a destination and recover the files.

Can you fix the corrupted hard drive by formatting it?

Although formatting can fix a broken hard drive, there is no assurance that your data can be retrieved once the drive has been formatted, particularly if a Full Format is carried out. Windows users can use Disk Management to format the disk and fix the issues.

  • Updated by

    Dany is an editor of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. She focuses on writing articles about data recovery on Mac devices and PCs. She is devoted to improving her writing skills and enriching her professional knowledge. Dany also enjoys reading detective novels in her spare time. …
  • Approved by

    Martyn Casserly has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews. He is a professional content contributor for many known ITwebsites like and…
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