My External Hard Drive Says It Needs to Be Formatted – Know Safe Solution

Anuraag Singh | Last Modified: June 9th, 2020 | Recovery

One of the most common queries regarding external hard disks is: my external hard drive says it needs to be formatted. Sometimes, at the time of connecting the external hard drive to the computer, it shows a notification that says that you have to format the drive before opening it. At that point, the user feels clueless as they do not know what to do. For them, this post will discuss all the remedial methods to fix this error.

Hard Drive Says It Needs to be Formatted

Symptoms of HDD Says Need to Format Problem

Obviously, the warning message is the main symptom of this error. Apart from this, if the data becomes inaccessible, or if the drive size becomes 0, or if the file system of external HDD becomes RAW, your hard drive may be in need of a format also.

What Causes Disk Format Error?

Various reasons are responsible for this problem. Here we will focus on some major causes of this problem.

  • The bad sectors or external hard drive corruption is the main cause of this problem.
  • Power surge during file transfer.
  • If the user has not removed hard disk safely from the system, next time the system may ask to format it.
  • Virus or malware on your system can make the system not recognizing the particular drive.

Important Note: – My external hard drive says it needs to be formatted, is a common error which mostly all Windows users face. But it requires serious attention because the carelessness will lead to data loss. So, We recommend that first, secure your important files and folders before formatting the disk, in order to fix the issue: hard drive needs to be the formatted error

Solutions to Fix Format Your Hard Drive Problem

However, it is possible that this error a user could fix using some manual tricks. Can your external hard drive problem be resolved by these methods? Well, in order to know, you have to try these techniques.

Method 1: – Try Another System: The Windows asks to format the hard drive if it cannot recognize it. It is better to connect the disk with any other system to see if that system recognizes this HDD or not. Some time due to virus intrusion the system prompts error: you need to format the disk before you can use it.

Method 2: – Change Drive Letter: You can also assign a different letter to your external hard drive and reconnect it to your system. This may make your system recognize the external hard disk. In some situations, the system is unable to assign a unique drive letter and it results in the need to format the disk before use error.

Method 3: – Check with Anti-virus Programs: You can scan the entire system including the connected hard drive with reliable anti-virus software. Make sure to confirm that the anti-virus tool does not delete any files while fixing the problem. So, it is better to first save your important files and then moves to fix error: my external hard drive says it needs to be formatted.

Method 4: – Directly Connect to Motherboard: Often, external hard drive related issues arise from troubled cables. If you are a tech-savvy person, you should try to connect your external hard disk directly with your Motherboard. Thus you will know if the problem is there because of the faulty cable/ USB.

Method 5: – Change Cable and Port: The USB cable and USB port may be causing this warning message. Try changing the cable and connect by a new port to see if the matter is resolved. Sometimes, the system port is having some issue and it results in: you need to format disk error.

Method 6: – Use CHKDSK Command: This is an effective command to resolve hard drive formatting issues. In order to run this command, first, connect the hard disk to your system. Then,

  1. Press Win + R to get the run box and there type “cmd” to open the command prompt.
  2. Type chkdsk [drive letter]: /f in the command window and it will start checking the drive and fix it.
  3. When the process is done completely, restart your system. Reconnect the hard disk and see if the problem still persists.

Secure Your Data Before Fixing You Need to Format Disk Error

In case you are having this problem even after trying all the methods, we have described above, ultimately you will have to format your drive. But wait, as we all know, formatting will erase all the data from the external drive, then what to do? The solution is easy – try SysTools Hard Drive Data Recovery Software. This tool can resolve this problem for good. The user can utilize this application in two different ways:

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  1. If your system asks to format your external hard disk, you need to take the backup of the files it contains. Scan your external HDD with this program and save all your files in another safe location. Then you can format your external HDD and restore the files back into the drive.
  2. If you have already formatted the HDD, you can still retrieve your files with the help of this software. Just use the Formatted Scan button for the external hard drive and you will be able to restore all the erased files.

Hard Drive Needs to Be Formatted Before Using It – User’s Queries

Here I am going to list different users’ queries. All queries are taken from different forum sites. Simply read it and understand why you need to format disk error:

User Query 1: “Every time I try to open it, my Seagate hard drive says it needs to be formatted. This problem started when one day, I suddenly disconnected my external HDD from the system, instead of removing it safely. Now I do not even have any backup of the files stored on that HDD. Tell me how can I fix this problem?”


User Query 2: “I am new in this computing world and the external HDD problem is driving me crazy. A few days ago, WD hard drive says needs formatting. Seeing no other option, I formatted it and at the same time, I lost all the data. Is there any way to recover data from formatted external hard drive? If yes, then please tell me.”


User Query 3: “After attaching the external hard disk to my computer it prompts an error message i.e. you need to format the disk before you can use it. The drive contains some important files which I can lose. Is there any solution for my external hard says it need to be a formatted error”

Final Words

‘External hard drive needs to be formatted before opening’, is an annoying error. In most cases, some bad sectors on the hard drive are responsible for this problem. In most cases, the way to access the drive is to format it.  the perfect software to recover deleted files from the hard drive even after formatted disk. Thus, users will regain access to the hard disk easily and that too without losing any data.