When trying to read from or write onto a drive, you may encounter the “You need to format the disk in drive” error. It generally occurs while attaching an external SD card or disk drive to the PC but is not limited to it.
The causes range from defective cables, ports, corrupted files, or even damaged sectors within the disk. But, whatever the cause be, it leaves the drive inaccessible.
How to Fix “You Need to Format the Disk in Drive” Error?
First of all, you can try to swap the port used to connect your drive with the PC or a card reader (for an SD card). Also, consider different cables in case you are using one. Second, you can try connecting the drive to a different PC if available and check if the issue resolves.
But, if the problem persists or it’s an embedded unhealthy disk drive, try the listed fixes:
Format Disk and Recover Data
This might sound exaggerated, but the solution to this problem would be formatting the unusable disk/drive and then recovering it afterward. Since, in most cases, the success rate of any other solutions would be low, you can try this method without going along with them.
Follow the steps below to format your drive:
- Press Windows + E keys and scroll down the leftmost section.
- Right-click on the drive you want to format and choose Format…
- Select the file system, and click the Start button.
- Hit the OK button.
Now, we will be recovering data from the formatted drive. How’s that even possible? Formatting doesn’t mean totally erasing data from your drive/disk but removing the pointers to navigate. It’s like deleting the ‘OS to data’ path from the PC, which would allocate that space as empty. The allocated empty space would consist of your data, ready to be overwritten with any other fresh data (with pointers).
Thus, if no changes are made to the drive/disk after formatting, you can recover your previous data. And for recovery purposes, you can use the free and open source CUI tool called Testdisk.
Without making changes to the drive, follow the steps below to recover files from the formatted drive:
- Download the Testdisk zip file, and extract it to a definite folder location.
- Then, open that folder and double-click on
testdisk_win.exe, and hit the Run button.
- Click on the Yes button.
- Press the Enter key.
- Select the disk or drive that you want to recover using the up/down arrow keys and hit Enter to select.
- Choose your Partition table type if you are aware of it. Or, go with what’s detected.
- Proceed with the Analyse option and hit Enter once.
- Select Quick Search using left/right arrow keys and press Enter.
- Let Testdisk scan and list all the recoverable files.
- Once done, you can select whichever folder or files you want to recover and press the C key to copy.
- Then, select the destination drive on your computer(different than this drive) and hit the Y key to paste it there. It would return Copy Done when finished.
However, for very significant data on the drive, consulting a data recovery expert is recommended.
Run CHKDSK Command
The partitions of your disk may get corrupted over time or due to some malicious or logically erroneous files. Such corrupted partitions will cause the discussed error. You can run the inbuilt CHKDSK command of Windows to fix such corruptions. Proceed with the following steps and use the command line:
- Press Windows + R and type
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open elevated cmd.
- Click on the Yes button.
- Run the command:
chkdsk F: /r
Change ‘F:’ with your drive letter
Scan for Viruses
The problem is also supposed to be caused by viruses or malware corrupting the data within your drive or the system files. Thus, you can give try to scan your PC using Windows defender fully. Follow the steps mentioned below to go further:
- Press Windows + I and go to Privacy & security
- Click on Windows security and then, Virus & threat protection
- Hit the Scan options link.
- Select Full scan and click on the Scan now button.
Change the Same File System
In some instances, the error may occur due to the change in file systems. Like, if a partition within your drive has a different file system than the drive itself. Or, if the drive you’re using is based on a file system unrecognized by your PC, the chances of the appearance of this error will be high.
There aren’t many resources provided by Windows to change the file system conveniently. For most conversions, formatting of the drive would be mandatory. However, a built-in Windows command will let you change FAT32 to NTFS without formatting. Follow the steps to do so:
- Open the elevated command prompt.
convert F: /fs:ntfs
‘F:’ is the drive letter
For any other conversions, you would better use other third-party applications.