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

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

You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it fix: You need to format the disk before you can use it fix: When you plug in your USB device do you consider the option of ‘Safely‘ removing the device? If not then you might reconsider it because the error “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it” is caused by not removing your device safely and as a result, you cannot access your data.

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

The above error occurs when you remove your external USB drive without using the Safely Remove Option which result in the USB drive Partition Table to become corrupted and unreadable.

To avoid losing your data or corrupting the storage drive’s partition table always make sure that you use safely remove option before unplugging your drive. And in case you receive a warning message ‘This device is currently in use. Close any programs or windows that  might be using the device and then try again’, then restart your computer.

How to fix the “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it”:

Method 1: Using Check disk utility

  1. Note the driver letter in the error, for example “You need to format the disk in drive H: in drive before you can use it.” In this example the drive letter is H.
  2. Right click on the Windows button (Start Menu) and select “Command Prompt(Admin).
    command prompt with admin rights
  3. Type the command in cmd: chkdsk (driveletter:) /r (Change drive letter with your own).
    e.g. The drive letter is our example is “H:” hence the command should be chkdsk H: /r
    chkdsk windows check dis utility
  4. If you are asked to recover files select Yes.
  5. If above command doesn’t work try: chkdsk (driveletter:) /f

In many cases only the windows check disk utility seems to fix the error “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it ” but if it didn’t work don’t worry just continue to next method.

Method 2: Use TestDisk utility

  1. Download TestDisk utility to your computer from here: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Download
  2. Extract the TestDisk utility from the downloaded file.
  3. Now in the extract folder double click on “testdisk_win.exe” to open TestDisk utility.
    testdisk_win
  4. At the TestDisk utility first screen, Select Create then press Enter.
    TestDisk utility select Create
  5. Wait until TestDisk scans your computer for connected disks.
  6. Carefully select the unrecognized external USB hard drive and press Enter to Proceed to disk analysis.
    select your unrecognized external USB hard disk
  7. Now select the partition table type and press Enter.
    select the partition table type
  8. Select Analyze option and press Enter to let TestDisk utility to analyze your hard disk drive and find the lost partiton table structure.
    Select Analyze to search for lost partition
  9. Now TestDisk should display the current partition structure. Select Quick Search and press Enter.
    select quick search and press enter
  10. If TestDisk locate the lost partition’s then press “P” to ensure that your files are in this partition.
    press p to list lost files
  11. At this point two different things can happen:
  12. If you can see a list of your lost files on your screen then press “Q” to return to the previous menu and continue to “Write Partition Structure back to disk.
    if you dont see your file press q
  13. If you doesn’t see your files or the files are damaged, then you need to perform a Deeper search:
  14. Press “Q” to quit and return to the previous screen.
    press q to quit to perform deeper search
  15. At the previous screen, press Enter.
    Press enter to continue to deep
  16. Press Enter one more time to perform a Deeper Search.
    perform deeper search
  17. Let TestDisk analyzes your disk as this operation may take some time.
    analyse cyclinder finding lost partition
  18. After Deeper search is completed, again press “P” to see if your files are listed.
    Press p to again list lost files
  19. If you files are listed, then press “Q” to return to the previous menu and then continue to the next step.
    press q to quit to perform deeper search

Write Partition Structure back to disk.

  • After successful recognition of your files, press Enter again to restore the files.
    press enter to conitue recovery of lost partition
  • Finally select Write option and press Enter to write the found partition data to the hard disk’s MBR (Master Boot Record).
    write the found partition data to the hard disk's MBR
  • Press “Y” when asked to confirm your decision.
    Write partition table, confirm yes or no
  • After that quit TestDisk utility by pressing “Q” and then restart your PC.
    You will have to reboot for the change to take effect
  • If during Startup, Windows Disk check utility shows up DO NOT INTERRUPT.

That’s it if you have followed the above procedure correctly then the error message  “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it” is fixed and you should see your hard disk content again. If you still have any question regarding this post feel free to ask them in comment.

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adityafarrad

Aditya is a Windows Technical expert and being a passionate Windows Blogger, he loves to troubleshoot system issues and help others.
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