How to fix an external storage device asking you to format it before you can use it in Windows

how to fix You need to format the disk in drive G before you can use it

When it comes to storage devices, very few issues are as bothersome as the “You need to format the disk in drive X: before you can use it” error. A good number just go ahead and format, losing all their files in the process. Well, the good news is that you can resolve this issue without losing your files. This error can also come in form of “volume X: does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file system driver are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted”.

What is the cause of this error message?

Its pretty simple, your partition table has been corrupted; changed from FAT or NTFS to RAW. A number of things could have resulted in this corruption; corrupted DBR, MFT/FAT, disconnecting without properly unmounting, malware, mishandling etc. The guide @ sheds more light on this.

Do I really need to format the external storage in order to fix this error?

Yes….sometimes, but not before you’ve retrieved / recovered your files from the storage device.

How do I retrieve my files from the corrupted storage device?

We’ll be considering two methods:

A. Command Prompt Method

First, you need to find out the drive letter of the device by connecting the external storage device to the PC and checking the device’s drive letter under My Computer. It’ll be something like G, H, I, J etc.

1. Launch the Windows Start menu and type cmd
2. Right-click Command Prompt from the result and run as Administrator
3. In Command prompt, type chkdsk /f h: and press Enter
* Note: Ensure to replace h with the drive letter of the storage device and give a space between chkdsk , /f and h:

how to use chkdsk in Windows

B. Data Recovery Method

You’ll be using a software called M3 Data Recovery. (You could use any other data recovery software of your choice).

1. Connect the corrupted storage device to the PC
2. Download M3 Data Recovery full version
3. Install and launch the software

how to recovery files from a storage device in windows without formating

4. Select RAW Drive Recovery

how to recovery files from RAW drive in Windows

5. Wait till all your storage devices are detected

how to fix or repair RAW Drive in WIndows

6. Highlight the corrupted storage device and click Next

how to change from RAW to FAT32 or NTFS without formating

7. Wait while the files get recovered from the RAW drive / partition

how to recover files from RAW drive

8. Select the file(s) you wish to recover from the list and click Recover

how to save files recovered from RAW drive

9. Once recovery is finished, you can click Fix Drive

how to fix and recover files from RAW partition in Windows

I tried to recover the files but was unable to, what do I do?

In some cases, the crash is pretty serious. In such a situation, go ahead with formatting the external storage. After formatting, you can use a good data recovery software like M3 data recovery or Easeus to recover your files.

How do I fix the corrupted partition table (RAW Drive) after retrieving my files?

You’ll need to format the external storage device. To do this:

1. Connect the device to the PC
2. Navigate to My Computer

how to change from RAW to FAT32 or NTFS

3. Right-click on the storage device and select Format…

how to format an external storage device

4. In the format box, select the file system of your choice (Its recommended to use NTFS for large storages and FAT 32 for smaller storages) , tick Quick Format then click Start

how to fix RAW partition table on a storage device

5. Wait till you get a prompt confirming that format is complete

Windows format complete

Hovatek….just a button away!