How to Solve “You Need to Format the Disk” for SD Card?

January 4, 2019

If “you need to format the disk in drive before you can use it” message appears when you connect SD card, USB flash drive or external hard drive to your computer, you can learn how to fix it from this article.

SD card says that it needs to be formatted

As a kind of storage device, SD card is widely used under different electronic devices like Smartphone, camera or computer. Sometimes, you can keep getting the message “You need to format the disk in drive E before you can use it” when you insert the SD card into your computer via USB port (“E” refers to the drive letter assigned to the partition on your SD card). And when you try to open it form Windows Explorer, you’ll be told that the SD card is not accessible.

You Need to Format the Disk SD Card

Fix the error for SD card without formatting

In fact, you need to format the disk error exists not only on SD card, but also on other USB drives like USB flash drive. When you are in such condition, don’t be panic and you can enter Disk Management to check the status of the SD card. Usually, you can see that your SD card partition present in RAW form. That is to say, your SD card is without a recognized file system or the file system of it is corrupted.

At this time, you can connect your SD card via another USB port and restart computer to see if the error disappears. If the error still shows up and you are unwilling to format your SD card as it will cause data loss, you can run chkdsk.exe to convert the SD card from RAW to normal by following the steps given below:

1. Run Command Prompt as administrator.

(Press simultaneously Windows + R, input cmd and hitEnter)

2. Run chkdsk n: /r.

(“n” is drive letter of the RAW SD card partition)

3. After the process is over, type exit and hit Enter to close this window. Then, you can see whether you are able to pen your SD card.

However, there are chances that you’ll get an error – CHKDSK is not available for RAW drive. If so, you can try the methods mentioned after.

Final solutions

Warning: The two ways mentioned in the next part will cause data loss, thus you can recover your data from the RAW SD card using Recoverit. Pro at first, if necessary.

When running chkdsk.exe can’t fix the error you need to format the disk in drive E before you can use it save your SD card from RAW, it is time to choose to format the SD card. In many cases, you can format the SD card directly within File Explorer. Nevertheless, it is possible that you be prompted by Windows was unable to complete the format. In such condition, you can refer to the two following ways to format RAW SD card.

Way 1. Clean SD card and create new partition

PressWindows +Rat the same time, input diskpart and pressEnter to Run Diskpart as administrator. In Diskpart interface, run the following commands in order:

  • list disk

  • select disk

  • clean

  • create partition primary

  • format fs =ntfs quick

(you can replace ntfs with fat32 or exfat if you want)

  • assign letter f

(f can be replaced with another available drive letter)

Fix SD Card by Formatting

When the whole process is completed, you can exit from this window. Then, open your Disk Management, the SD card partition has been formatted with NTFS file system.

Way 2. Format SD card using a GUI tool

When you are unfamiliar with Diskpart or want to format a large SD card to FAT32, you can employ AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, a tool, compatible with Windows 10/8.1/8/7, XP and Vista. It enables you to format RAW or other USB drives to NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, Ext2, Ex3 or Ext4; and it allows you to format 32GB, 64GB or even large drive to FAT32. Take a look at how it works:

Step 1. Download freeware AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, install and run it. In the main console, locate the SD card needs formatting, right click it and choose Format Partition.

Format Partition

Step 2. In pop-up window, select a proper file system for your SD card and click OK.


Step 3. Now, clickApply and Proceed to execute the operation.


Note: You can get more advanced features, such as cloning system disk to SSD, migrating OS to new hard drive and recovering lost partition etc, if you upgrade it to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.


It’s not rare to encounter the error you need to format the disk on SD card or other USB drives. When you are in such condition, you can try to solve it without formatting at first. Or you can choose to format it directly if you don’t care about the data on the SD card or you have backed up or retrieved necessary files in advance.