How to Fix Unformatted Hard Drives in Windows 11/10/8/7 Easily?

Try to access an external hard drive and only find it needs to be formatted? Learn how to fix unformatted hard drives efficiently from this page.


By Dervish / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Overview of external hard drive not formatted error

Each hard drive should be formatted so that it can be accessed by users. A formatted hard drive would have a certain file system like NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT. If the file system of an external hard drive is corrupted, it will lead to the external hard drive unformatted error and you will get either of the following messages:

“The disk in drive F is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?”

“You need to format the disk in drive F: before you can use it. Do you want to format it?”

What would cause corrupted file system and unformatted hard drives? There are four main reasons:

• Power outage while you are copying files to the external drive
• Abrupt removal of the external drive from the USB port
• Bad sectors
• Virus attacks

Then, how to resolve the situation that “My external hard drive says it needs to be formatted”?

How to fix unformatted hard drives in Windows 11/10/8/7 easily?

First of all, you should develop good habits of using computers—always use “Safely Remove Hardware” to disconnect external hard drives and check virus regularly. Then, you can fix unformatted hard drives in Windows 10/8/7 with three methods provided below:

Method 1: try the hard drive on another PC and fix the device drivers

It is possible that only your PC can’t read the hard drive, so you can check the possibility by connecting your hard drive to another PC. If it works on another PC, then it’s time to fix the device drivers installed on your computer. Follow the guidance below:

1. Right click on the Start icon and select Device Manager.

2. Find your external hard drive, right click on it and select Uninstall. Safely disconnect the drive when it’s done.

Uninstall Device Driver

3. Restart your computer and connect the hard drive. The drivers will start installing automatically in most cases.

If the drive is also shown unformatted on another PC, then turn to Method 2.

Method 2: check the hard drive for errors with Windows built-in tool

Windows has an inbuilt mechanism for hard disk recovery which can help you check internal and external drives for errors. Generally, Windows will automatically ask you for drive scanning when you connect the drive to the machine. If it doesn’t happen, you can follow the steps below to run it manually:

1. Open This PC/Computer, find the external hard drive and right click on it. Select Properties from the expanded menu.

2. Click on the Tools tab and under Error-checking, click on the Check button.

Error Checking

3. If the system detects that there are errors, you will be asked to check the disk. If no errors are found, you will see a message – You don’t need to scan this drive. You can, nevertheless, choose to check the drive by clicking on Scan drive.

Scan Drive

4. Wait for the scanning process to be finished. On completion, Windows will display a message. If no errors are found, it will say so. If errors are found, you will get this message: Restart your computer to repair the file system. You can restart right away or schedule the error fixing on next restart. Choose to restart immediately or not.

If the external hard drive unformatted error is still unsolved, please go to Method 3.

Method 3: backup data and format the hard drive via a handy freeware

The most direct way to fix unformatted hard drives is to follow the on-screen prompt to format them. However, formatting will cause total data loss. Do backup files to another place before formatting. Sometimes you may encounter the formatting error “Windows was unable to complete the format”. Don’t worry! A handy freeware AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard can help you out.

It enables you to resize, move, merge and format partitions with just a few clicks. All Windows PC operating systems like Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported. Learn how to format an external hard drive via AOMEI Partition Assistant below:

Step 1. Connect the external drive to your computer and make sure it is detected. Download, install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant.

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

Step 2. Right click on the external drive and select “Format Partition”. 

Format Partition

Step 3. In the pop-up window, you can name the drive by editing “Partition Label” and change file system based on your needs. Click “OK” to continue.

Select File System

Step 4. Click “Apply” to view pending operation and then “Proceed” to commit the operation. Safely disconnect your drive when the process is completed.



Now you know how to fix unformatted hard drives in Windows 10/8/7 efficiently. AOMEI Partition Assistant can rescue you when Windows fails to format a drive. It can also help you fix inaccessible boot device on Windows 10 SSD and solve MBR2GPT validation failed error. Give it a try and enjoy all the wonderful features right now!

Dervish · Staff Editor
Dervish is an English editor of AOMEI Technology; He is delicated to offering users easy and effecitve solutions for issuses related to disks and partitoins. In his spare time, he enjoy wathcning films, playing footable, traveling and so on.