Solved: My External Hard Drive Says It Needs to Be Formatted

In this post, we will tell why my external hard drive says it needs to be formatted in Windows 11/10/8/7. Besides, you can learn how to solve the "hard disk asking for format" problem easily.


By Emily / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Scenario: my external hard drive says it needs to be formatted

“Hey, guys. I have a Seagate 3TB external hard drive to store personal data in a Windows computer. But all of a sudden, my Seagate external hard drive says it needs to be formatted. All I did prior to this happening was restart my PC as I do every day. So basically, when it is plugged in, every several seconds it disappears and then reappears with a pop-up message: "You need to format the disk in drive F: before you can use it. Do you want to format it?". So what should I do next? Thanks a lot!”

Need To Format Disk

Why does my external hard drive says needs to be formatted?

Actually, this is a widespread problem for Windows users. When you meet such an issue, there are chances that the hard drive shows as RAW in Disk Management, which will block you from accessing the files on the drive. However, why the external hard drive keeps saying it needs to be formatted? Below are some common causes you can take a look at:

►The file system is not recognized by Windows. For instance, the file system is Ext 2/3/4.

►The external drive suffers sudden power outages when it is working.

►The hard drive is virus infected.

►The hard drive comes with some bad sectors.

►The hard drive is removed without safe removal.

How to fix "my external hard drive says it needs to be formatted" in Windows 11/10/8/7?

After getting a basic understanding of why the external hard drive says it needs to be formatted, you must want to know how you can fix it. It’s advisable to take the following measures.

Before proceeding to the methods below, please try the easy solutions first.
◆Connect it to another computer or another operating system and check if you can open the hard drive successfully.
◆Try another USB port.
◆Restart your computer and connect the drive to the computer again.
◆Run anti-virus software to check and remove the possible viruses on the external hard drive.

Sometimes those easy solutions do help people get out of trouble. If the problem still exists, go for the following methods.

Method 1. Use CHKDSK to check errors

You can use Windows inbuilt utility – CHKDSK to fix this error without formatting at first.

Step 1. Search “cmd” in the “Start Menu” and run the “cmd” as administrator.

Step 2. In the pop-up command prompt window, type “chkdsk g: /f /r /x” and press “Enter”. (“g” is the drive letter of the problematic partition).

Chkdsk Check Error

If CHKDEK can run this process normally and fix the errors, you can access your external hard drive as normal after restarting your computer.

However, sometimes this process is aborted, and the following message pops out: the type of the file system is RAW, and CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives. At that moment, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to check whether there is a bad sector on the external hard drive. In the process, you can choose the check method based on your needs.

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Step 1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant, right-click the RAW partition (shown as Unformatted), and select “Advanced”>“Check Partition”.

Check RAW Partition

Step 2. Then select the last method to check whether there is bad sector on the partition, and click “OK”.

Check Bad Sectors

Step 3. In this window, click “Start” to begin the partition checking process and wait for the process to complete.

Start Check RAW Partition

Then, the "external hard drive asking to format" error should be solved.

Method 2. Recover data and format the external hard drive

If all the methods above don’t solve your problem, reformatting the external hard drive will be the last choice you have to make. But before that, you can use some reliable data recovery software like Recoverit Pro to recover the important data from it since formatting will cause data loss.

To format it, you can directly click “Format Disk” and follow the guide in the error message “you need to format the disk in drive” window, but in some cases, you probably receive the formatting error “Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format”. Then, you can also use AOMEI Partition Assistant to format it successfully as below.

Step 1. In the main interface of AOMEI Partition Assistant, right-click the disk that needs to be formatted and select “Format Partition”.

Format RAW Partition

Step 2. In this window, you can choose a compatible file system (ex: NTFS) and click “OK” to continue.

Format RAW To NTFS

Step 3. Click “Apply”> “Proceed” to start formatting the disk.


After formatting, you can see the external hard drive showing normally in Disk Management and you can access data stored in it from File Explorer.


For the issue “my external hard drive says it needs to be formatted” in Windows 11/10/8/7, the methods above are worth you trying. Obviously, AOMEI Partition Assistant is a really powerful software to manage disks. Besides formatting partition, it can help move/delete/resize/merge/copy partition.

To enjoy more advanced functions like transferring OS to SSD, splitting partitions, converting system disk between MBR and GPTwithout deleting partitions, etc, you can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.

If you are a Windows Server user, you can try AOMEI Partition Assistant Server.

Emily · Staff Editor
Emily is an English editor of AOMEI Technology; she has a great passion for providing easy solutions for people to tackle with all disk or partition management problems. In addition to writing articles about disk/partition management, she also edits great tutorials on how to back up and restore disk for data security. In her spare time, she loves to learn computer skill to improve herself or stay with her family to enjoy a good day.