[Updated] 7 Ways to Fix External Hard Drive Not Formatted Error

Getting “the disk in drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now” error when trying to access the RAW drive? If it is then keep on reading this post. In this post, you are going to learn what the “external hard drive not formatted” error is, how to fix this issue and how to recover data from an external drive using Hard Drive Recovery Tool.

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So, without any delay, let’s get started.

Solutions To Fix External Hard Drive Not Formatted Error

Solution 1: Use CHKDSK Command To Fix Hard Drive Not Formatted Error

CHKDSK is one of the powerful in-built tools that come with Windows and it is very helpful in checking corruption and fixing the problems, errors, and corruption found in a drive(s).

Follow the below-mentioned steps to retrieve data from an external hard drive using CHKDSK:

Step 1 – Connect your error throwing external hard drive with your PC.

Step 2 – On your PC, click START and in search bar type “cmd”. Right-click the result and select Run as administrator.


Step 3 – New command window will open. Now you have to type the following command “CHKDSK [driveletter] /r” in the command window.

For example – If your memory card display as E: Drive, then you must enter the command – “CHKDSK E: /r”. The parameter “/r” is the command for repair the issue or problems it finds.


The process will take some time to check and repair the specific disk. Wait for process to get complete.

Step 4 – Once the process completes. Proceed further and select “Yes”. CHKDSK will give the information about what it has done.

Step 5 – You can now go back to My Computer and check whether you are able to access the data stored on your external hard drive.

Note: The above command can also be used to retrieve data from PC internal hard drive, external hard drive, memory cards, USB flash drives.

However, it may be possible that this CHKDSK command may work for you, but what if it does not? Well, in such cases you have to use third-party software such as hard drive data recovery tool to rescue inaccessible media files from the hard drive.

Solution 2: Change The Drive Letter Name


Step 1: Allocate a separate letter to your external hard disk.

Step 2: Reconnect the hard disk to your system. This will make your system identify the external hard drive.

Step 3: If you are unable to assign a letter then you need to format the disk before use the error.

Solution 3: Scan Hard Drive With Anti-virus Programs

antivirus- tool

Step 1: Scan your whole system along with hard drive with a effective and reliable anti-virus software.

Step 2: Confirm that this anti-virus tool does not delete any data while fixing the issues. So, please save your vital data files first. Then, move to format the hard drive if required.

Solution 4: Run The System File Checker

Another method that you can try to fix Seagate external hard drive not formatted error is to run the SFC tool. It is a built-in Windows utility and helps to repair corrupt system files such as SYS, EXE, or DLL files that can lead to this issue. Follow the easy steps of this utility to resolve this error:

  • At first, click on the “Start” >> type cmd.
  • Next, right-click on the “Command Prompt” >> choose the “Run as administrator” option.


  • Then, you need to enter the below command in order. (A DISM command is mainly used to create the Windows image in order to guard your data.)

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Checkhealth
sfc /scannow

dism-tool copy

Solution 5: Update The Hardware Driver

Sometimes, “Disk/Drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now” errors take place due to outdated device drivers. At the time, you need to update your hardware driver with Disk Management.

Here are the simple instructions that you can follow to deal with such annoying issues:

  • First, connect an external hard drive with your computer
  • Next, right-click a “This PC” >> choose the “Properties“.
  • Then, click the “Device Manager” >> expand the “Disk drives” option.

select Device Manager

  • Find & right-click on a problematic drive >> select the “Update driver
  • Make a tap on “automatically search for driver software online“.


  • Lastly, you need to wait until the updating process gets finishes, then reboot your computer.

Solution 6: Delete Partition & Recreate the New Volume

Even after trying the above fixes if the error still persists, then you have one more left for you that is delete a partition & then create the new volume. To do so, follow these steps:

  • First of all, make right-click on “This PC” >> choose the “Manage” option.
  • Then, right-click on problematic partition >> choose the “Delete Volume“.
  • Under a “Delete simple volume“, choose the “Yes” to proceed further.
  • Later, a deleted partition will display up as an unallocated space.
  • After that, right-click an unallocated space >> select the “New Simple Volume…”
  • Under the New Simple Volume Wizard >> click on “Next” to continue.
  • Now, follow a wizard to state the size of the volume, assign the drive letter to a volume. After this, format your partition.

Create new volume

Solution 7: Use The Best Hard Drive Data Recovery Tool

If the above solution does not work for you, then it is highly recommended that you must use Hard Drive Data Recovery Tool that will help you in recovering inaccessible media files such as photos, videos, and audio files from external hard drives not formatted errors.

This tool can also be used to retrieve media files from the hard disk that throw ‘disk in drive is not formatted’, external hard drive says it needs to be formatted, recover data from hard drive error “you need to format the disk in drive“, external hard drive asking to format before use, recover data from external hard drive without formatting.

This external hard drive recovery tool can also be used to restore deleted, lost, formatted, corrupted missing, inaccessible photos, video and audio files from various hard drives, external hard drives, digital cameras, camcorders, memory cards, USB flash drive, and other data storage devices.

The free download of the software is available for both Windows and Mac users, in which you can see the preview of the recoverable files within the software. But in order to recover files, you need to purchase the full version of the software.

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* Free version of the program only scans and previews recoverable items.

So, simply go through its step-by-step guide to recover data after fixing external hard disk not formatted error

What is External Hard Drive Not Formatted Error?

The use of an external hard drive is to store data. If you are using an external hard drive for storing data or using it as a backup device, you might have experienced situations where your PC does not read your hard drive. You connect it and it throws an error message such as “The disk in drive F is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?

And finally, you are not able to access the files stored within it. The problem will begin when you have stored important files within the drive and you do not have any copy or backup of it. Another problem you may also notice that when you disconnect the drive, it may display the pop-up message “You need to format the disk in drive F: before you can use it. Do you want to format it now?”

Well, there are many users who are getting the same hard drive error message. If you proceed further to format the drive, then you will lose all the data stored in it and this is actually not the solution. Well, we will talk about the perfect solutions to fix the above problems, but before that let us know why we get such a hard disk problem.

Reasons For External Hard Not Formatted Error

There could be several reasons for the above external hard drive error. Such as:

  • The main cause could be that your hard drive system files got corrupted or it is due to corrupted drivers
  • External Hard Disk needs to be formatted so that it can prepare the media for use with a specific file system and if your hard drive hasn’t be prepared for use with your OS then you may get the above error message
  • Another reason could be the corruption of the hard drive itself and hence it throws the above error (Also Read: Recover Photos From Damaged Hard Drive)

It doesn’t matter whatever may be the reasons behind the error message “External Hard Drive Not Formatted Error”, you can easily fix it with the solutions mentioned below.

Bonus Tip: Reformat External Hard Drive To Make It Reusable

Once, you restore your files back from your external hard drive, you can then reformat them to make them reusable. Below find out how to format the hard drive.

  • Click Start>My Computer
  • Now right click on the external hard drive that you want to format. Select Format option
  • Now click on Start and finally click on OK to confirm the formatting process

Once the format process is complete, you can again use your external hard to store new data.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why Is My Hard Drive Not Formatting?

There could be several reasons that can lead to external hard drive disk not formatted error. Below I have listed the major factors:

  • Malware/virus infection
  • Damaged or missing DLL, EXE or SYS files
  • Bad sectors
  • Due to write protection on disk
  • Corrupted hard disk partition
  • Incompatible/outdated BIOS, hardware drivers, etc.
  • Improper drive format

How Do I Force A Hard Drive To Format?

By following the below steps, you can force a hard drive to format:

  • Launch This PC >> go to the Devices & drives.
  • Make right-click on external hard disk >> choose Format.
  • Then, select a file system >> click Start option.
  • Under a warning prompt, you need to click on OK.

How Do I Format My Hard Drive To NTFS?

In order to format the hard drive to NTFS, you have to follow the beneath steps:

  • At first, plug your external hard drive to PC.
  • Next, open the File Explorer.
  • Make right-click on a name of your drive in a left pane.
  • Now, from a popup menu, choose Format.
  • Under a drop-down menu of File system, choose NTFS >> tap Start.


External hard disk need to format before use is an irritating error. The above article provides you easy manual solutions to troubleshoot hard drive not formatted.

If the manual solutions are ineffective then you can restore inaccessible data from an external hard disk using Hard Drive Data Recovery Tool.

Hope the given solutions will definitely help you resolve the “external hard drive not formatted error and recover data like photos/videos/music and more if you find them lost.