By Cherry / Last Updated September 28, 2021

“My external hard drive won’t format”

“I have a 1TB Seagate external hard drive and when I plug it in, it says it needs to be format. Windows is unable to complete the format. can't run chkdsk, it's RAW format. Can't create an NTFS partition because the Seagate external hard drive cannot format. Help me please!”

Actually, many users have met the external hard drive won’t format problem when they try to format their external HDD/SSD, a Micro SD card, USB flash drive, pen drive, etc. You may get the error messages “Windows was unable to complete the format ” or “the format did not complete successfully”.

Why is external hard drive not formatting?

General speaking, external hard drive won’t format could be caused by the following factors:

  • Malware or virus infection

  • Bad sectors

  • Missing or damaged DLL, SYS, or EXE files

  • Damaged hard drive partition

  • Disk write protection

  • Incorrect drive format

  • Incompatible or outdated hardware drivers or BIOS, etc.

Thus, suddenly, you may meet various external hard drive won’t format problems including "Disk is not formatted","You need to format the disk in drive F: before you can use it", or "This volume does not contain a recognized file system", etc. In those situations, many users would like to use the CHKDSK to repair this kind of problems. However, when you run chkdsk, you may receive the error that chkdsk reports RAW.

Solutions to “external hard drive won’t format” issue

Fortunately, in this article, we will provide you two effective ways to solve the Seagate, WD or other brands external hard drive not formatting problem.

Method 1. Force format external hard drive with CMD

1. Connect the external hard drive (HDD/SSD, USB drive or other devices) that you need to format to your PC.

2. Press Win + R to open the "Run" dialog,

3. Type: cmd and hit Enter to open Command Prompt as Administrator.

4. Type: diskpart and hit Enter.

5. Type: list disk and hit Enter to display all disks on your computer.

6. Type: select disk 1 and hit Enter; (1 is the drive number of your USB.)

7. Type: clean and hit Enter.

8. Type: create partition primary and hit Enter.

9. Type: format fs=fat32 quick or format fs=ntfs quick and hit Enter to reset the drive to FAT32 or NTFS file system.

10. Type: assign letter F: (You can replace F with other letter based on your needs)

Diskpart Format

Finally, you should type: exit and hit Enter to finish the process.

Method 2. Force format external hard drive with free partition manager

If you still cannot format the external hard drive through the DiskPart,, it is recommended to try a free partition manager like AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Compared with Windows built-in formatting tools, it is more powerful and has the following advantages:

★Format large hard drive (over 32GB) to FAT32 file system;
Format hard drive to Ext4/Ext3/Ext2 under Windows environment;
★Format internal hard drive to exFAT with ease;
★Force format RAW, write-protected or corrupted hard drive successfully.

Therefore, when external hard drive won’t format to FAT32 or NTFS, you can free download the AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, and force format the external hard drive within 3 steps.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant on your Windows 11/10/8/7 PC. You will see all disks on your computer in the main interface. You can see the unable to format external hard drive raw marked as Unformatted here. Right-click it and select Format Partition.

Format Raw Partition

Step 2. Then, it will pop up the format partition window that you can setup the details. Choose a file system you need in the list, click OK.

Format Raw To NTFS

Step 3. Finally, click Apply->Proceed to execute the whole progress.


Generally, the three steps will format your external hard drive. If it still failed, you can try to use Wipe Hard Drive of AOMEI Partition Assistant to help you solve your problem.

* AOMEI Partition Assistant is such a great format tool that can solve the external hard drive won’t format problem easily. It also can help you check bad sectors, test disks, and so on. You can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to get more advanced features (converting disk between MBR and GPT without deleting volumes, allocating free space, cloning MBR disk to GPT, etc) for better disk management.