Fix 'You Need to Format the Disk in Drive Before You Can Use It' Error

The error "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it" always occurs when you try to access your external storage device. When it happens, it's highly likely that you cannot access the files on the device. Here we will show you how to fix "You need to format the disk in drive" error and how to recover data from the problematic disk with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard - the reliable data recovery software.

Table of Contents

Overview of Format Disk Error

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

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

Usually, if you frequently force unplug your SD card, USB, external hard drive or any other removable device without using the Safely Remove option, the partition table of the device will be corrupted and become RAW which is unreadable by Windows. And then you might receive the disk format error message "You need to format the disk in drive X before you can use it. Do you want to format it?" when you try to access the storage device. However, it not the only reason that may lead to the format disk error. There are other reasons including:

  • 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
  • There are bad sectors in the USB flash drive, SD card, memory card, or external hard drive

Fixes to "You Need to Format the Disk in Drive" Error

When you see the notification "You need to format the disk in drive", it is not necessarily something wrong with your external storage device. Thus, don't hurry to format the disk as the prompt says. It's the last solution you can try. Instead, try the solutions below to fix the error. If, after trying these tips below, the notification still exists, you can recover files from the device first and then format the disk without worrying about losing data.

Tip 1. Try Simple Solutions First

Try a different USB port: Connect your external hard drive, SD card, or USB to another USB port

Try a different computer: Connect your external storage device to another computer. You can try it on both Windows computer and Mac. If the device works properly on macOS, it's highly likely that the file system of the device is not Windows-compatible, thus it is not recognized by Windows.

Run antivirus software: It's possible that the "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it" error is caused by a virus attack. Take a chance to cope with it by running antivirus software on your computer.

If the methods above don't work, don't get frustrated. There are more tips you can try further to fix the matter without losing anything on your external storage device.

Tip 2. Check and Repair Your Device with CMD

Many users have reported that this method had helped them solve the problem of "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it". This method will check the disk error and fix it automatically.

Step 1. Press the "Windows" key and type cmd.

Step 2. Right-click "Comand 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.

fix format disk error with cmd

When it has finished, you can try again to read your USB, SD card or external hard drive after restart your computer. 

However, if the process won't go smoothly and you see the error message: the type of the file system is RAW, CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives, you need to perform raw drive recovery to retrieve your data. It is the only way to fix 'you need to format the disk in drive' error in this case. In a word, if chkdsk doesn't help, the next advice for you is to recover files from your disk and then format it as Windows suggests.

Tip 3. Recover Files and Format the Disk

If all these solutions fail to solve the problem "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it", you can recover files from your external hard drive, USB, SD card, memory card, or other storage media first and then format it. By doing so, you can fix the error without data loss on your storage device. To recover files from the inaccessible disk, you can't miss EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, the reliable hard drive recovery software. It will recover all files on your problematic disk to another safe location. After that, you can format your external storage device without any worry.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS hard drive recovery software.

Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your PC and select the drive on your hard disk where you lost or deleted files. Click "Scan" and let this program scan all lost data and files on the selected hard drive.

select a location and scan hard drive

Step 2. Check and preview all lost hard drive data.

Find lost hard drive data from "Deleted Files", "Lost Files" or use "Filter" to quickly navigate the lost data. Check and double-click to preview these found files.

Find and preview all lost hard drive data

Step 3. Restore lost hard drive data to a safe location.

Select wanted files that you lost on the drive and click "Recover" to save them. Choose a safe location on your PC or other external storage devices to save these restored hard drive data.

Restore lost hard drive data.

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

Where your external storage device is RAW or inaccessible, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is able to recover the data on it for you. Besides, this software also supports deleted file recovery, formatted recovery, recycle bin emptied data recovery, OS crash recovery, and more on laptop/PC, external hard drive, SD card, USB, memory card, etc.

Do You Need Specialized Data Recovery Services?
You may need further help for tough data loss situations like reformatting drive, RAW disk, partition loss, repartition failures and system boot error. Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for cost-efficient one-on-one manual recovery service. They could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:
1. Unformat the drive
2. Repair the RAID, RAW disk or operating system
3. Recover lost partition (the one that cannot be recovered by software)


In addition to "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it", there are other formatting related problems that may happen to your external storage device, like "the format did not complete successfully" or "disk is not formatted". In these situations, it's a good choice to download a data recovery tool on your computer that will rescue your data once you've got your files lost. Always remember, the quicker you perform data recovery, the higher chance you will retrieve your data.

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Updated by Daisy

Daisy has been working as a technical writer for eight years. She specializes in making the complicated easy. She believes that technology should bring users satisfaction, not annoyance, so she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.

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Written by Roxanne

Roxanne is one of the main contributors to EaseUS and has created multiple posts on digital devices like PCs, Mobile phones, tablets, Mac, etc. She loves to share ideas with people of the same interest.

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