How Do you Fix a USB Drive That Says it Needs to be Formatted


The error “You Need to Format the Disk in Drive Before Using It” appears when you try to open a hard drive but cannot do so. Several factors lead to this situation, and eventually, if you try to ignore the error, you might end up losing all your data. It can be annoying to come across the “you need to format the disk in a drive before using it” prompt when you double-click on a drive to open it, as it stops you from doing anything on that drive. 

If you do not take the necessary action, things can get extremely difficult for you, and the error may leave your hard drive unusable. In case you try to use the drive forcefully, you will lose your data. Hence, you must deal with the error responsibly and take appropriate steps. 

What are these steps, you wonder? We’ll find them out in this post!

What Causes the “You Need to Format the Disk in Drive Before Using It” Error

Before we begin with things that you can try to troubleshoot the error, let us take a look at some of the problems that may be causing the error on your PC. Since it is a storage-related error, data does play a crucial role. The error generally appears on external storage devices such as your USB flash drive, Hard Drive, SSDs, etc. 

When you come across the error, you cannot directly pin it to anything as you may not know what triggered the error. However, there are a few factors that are usually responsible for the “you need to format the disk in drive before using it” error. 

These include – 

  • Damaged Files on Drive – If the files on your drive are broken or damaged in any sense, it may cause your drive to become inaccessible. The hard drive storage becomes useless when damaged files are placed in it.
  • Half-Copied Data – If you have accidentally removed a drive from your PC before it could completely copy the files in a system and then try to plug the drive into your PC, you may face the “you may need to format the disk in the drive before using it” error.
  • Corrupt File System  – Every hard drive uses a file system to organize and keep the files intact. In case you have changed the file system of the drive or connected to a device, did it automatically, the error may appear. Also, the file system may get corrupted if not used for a while. This is another reason you may only be able to access the drive after formatting it.
  • Malware Infection – This one is obvious! If you connected the drive to a PC with malware, your drive may be infected and the current PC will not allow it to open. Needless to say, it is for your good. 

While all these factors come into play, you should also remember that issues related to your disk can also be a reason behind it not functioning properly. Before you try to fix the drive for the issues mentioned above, we recommend you run a quick test on your connected drive using the Advanced System Optimizer’s Disk Doctor utility tool. Not only does it allow you to check your drive for errors, but it also ensures that if errors are detected, they are resolved. 

Here’s how you can use the tool – 

Step 1 – Download and install the Advanced System Optimizer on your PC.

Step 2 – Launch the application to find all the present modules.

disk cleaner and optimizer module - Advanced system optimizer

Step 3 – From the left panel, click on Disk Cleaner & Optimizers.
Step 4 – Opt for Disk Tools to find the best tools that will resolve the error.Various option in disk cleaner and optimizer

Step 5 – Make it a priority to choose the problematic drive and run a scan.disk doctor welcome screen
Step 6 – Choose the type of analysis. If you believe the error is in the file system, you can opt for Normal Analysis, else you can choose Thorough Analysis.analyze option -Advanced system optimizer

Step 7 – After choosing the approach, the tool may require exclusive access to the drive hence allow it to restart your PC and check the drive for errors.

Asking for permission - tool may require exclusive access to the drive

Once the PC restarts, all your issues will be resolved instantly! You shall be able to open the drive without worrying about it harming your PC, and you need to format the disk before using it. The error will also be removed!

Using this tool can resolve the issue for you instantly hence it is highly recommended you download it today and prolong the life of your drives!

Learn –  Complete review about the tool 

Ways to Fix the Issues With a Drive That You Need to Format Before Using

If you are looking for detailed methods for a specific problem on your drive, you can opt for any of the following fixes according to your direction of error. However, before running the fixes that we will discuss, there are a few preliminary checks that you should try as they will simplify the solution for you.

Preliminary Checks

Check 1 – Ensure Disk manager recognizes the Disk you want to open. To do so, press Win+X to bring up the quick access menu and check if the system recognizes the disk.Disk Management

Check 2 – Try connecting the same drive to another PC and check if that also shows a similar format before using the prompt. This will help you identify if the issue is specifically in the drive or your PC. 

Check 3 – Ensure that the connectivity is appropriate. If it is a flash drive, make sure it is not loosely connected. Also, if you are connecting an SSD or HDD, you should ensure that if the cable uses USB 3.0, you use a similar port and vice versa.

Check 4 – If you can see the drive on your computer and it is not opening on double-click, use the right-click menu and scan the drive for errors. This can be helpful as once you have checked the drive for malware and viruses, you may easily get rid of it using an antivirus and have no issues ahead.

scan drive

Using these checks is enough to help you eliminate the errors on your PC. However, if you still cannot figure out the issue properly, do not worry; we have some fixes that you can try out!

Advanced Fixes

Fix 1 – Use the Chkdsk Command to Check the Drive

Step 1 – Go to the Start Menu and search for CMD.

Command Prompt_Admin

Step 2 – You may find Command Prompt in the result. Use the run as administrator option to launch it.
Step 3 – In the Command Prompt, use the command – CHKDSK X: /rCHKDSK X r command
(In the above command, replace the X with the drive name that is causing the error on your PC)

Step 4 – Let the command run. It may require a restart to run the complete disk check. Allow it to restart, and you will see that the drive is now repaired. 

Fix 2 – Try Manually Formatting the Drive

If you are not interested in the data it has but only want to use the drive, you should format it. Choose the appropriate file system and format it manually using the Disk Manager.

Step 1 – Press Win+X to open the Context Menu.
Step 2 – In the Context menu, opt for Disk Management on your PC. Disk Management option

Step 3 – Spot the problematic disk drive and right-click to find the Format option.Format option after right clicking disk drive

Step 4 – Choose the NTFS file system and format it accordingly!Format option

This way, you can access your drive without damaging its file system. If you have to format the drive and need the data (suppose pictures that were in it) as well, you can recover data from a formatted drive.

After trying all the methods and checks shared in this post, you can get the issue resolved on your end. Finding the error can often become troublesome as it leaves you helpless. In the tussle of not wanting to lose the data and accessing the drive, do not let the wrong instincts take over, and use these fixes instead!

Thanks for reading. Good luck!

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About The Author

Dishank Sharma
Dishank Sharma

A creative tech-writer who loves to explore latest tech-trends & convey them to his readers in the simplest way possible. He loves to blend the crispness of technology with a pinch of creativity while curating best practices for the readers. In his free time, he likes to scribble poetry, listen to rap & travel.

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