Fix Format Error: Disk in Drive Is not Formatted Want to Format now?

If you accidentally encountered this kind of formatting error "The disk in drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now?" Do not format it right away! More similar situations can be seen here and there, I was wandering on several Internet communities.

“When I connected Canon digital camera SD memory card to the computer via a card reader, Windows detected the memory card and showed as Removable Drive under My Computer. But when I try to access the drive, it said ‘the drive is not formatted, would you like to format it now?’ I have plenty of precious photos and video chips insides the card. How could I get them out before formatting the card?” – by Daniel 

“I have a D drive and every time i try to access a folder in that drive it keeps saying ‘Drive not formatted, do you want to format it now?’ But another partition under that drive works fine. I don't want to format it because I need the files. The drive also acts really slowly on any of the other files I click on. How to fix the problem and make my folder become alive?” – by Rose 
“My Western Digital external hard drive recently didn’t let me view the data insides. Windows sometimes won’t recognize it well thus each time I try to open it says disk in drive not formatted error. I followed it but very wired it won’t let it format. Any way to fix the error?” - by Jack

It seems this kind of problems happen more often on removable devices such as a pen drive, SD memory card, external hard drive, etc. It says you have to format the disk and but it won't let you format it. Instead, it shows you some weird errors. 

What are possible "culprits"?

  • The device is too old and may be corrupted after it shows its age. As you know like any other old technology, an external storage device has its own lifespan. And you never know when it's going to retire.
  • There are bad sectors in the specific area of the disk that is required for a file system, e.g. for a boot sector or the FAT table sector. Since the drive obviously can be fully accessed, Windows refuses to format it.  
  • Sometimes, you cannot format the drive to the FAT file system if it has been formatted to another file system which is not recognized by Windows.
  • Some incompatibilities in the drivers or BIOS result in such an error. It makes sense to try to format the drive on another computer. In most cases, the incompatibility problem only concerns the format procedure. Once the drive is formatted, it would work fine.

Solution to fix the format error

Step 1. Try the problematic hard drive or external removable media on another computer. See if the device can be accessed normally. This way helps clear the buffers and eliminates incompatibility issues. Sometimes the error disappears and you disk drive works normally again.

Step 2. If step 1 doesn't help. Try recovering the data with some free data recovery programs first. If you are under Windows, you can use PhotoRec, RECUVA, or Pandora Recovery. For Apple Mac OS, turn to the posting free Mac file rescue software I wrote earlier.

Step 3. After your files are recovered, follow those steps to try formatting the drive (if you are using a memory card or flash drive, connect it to your PC first). Go to My computer -> Properties -> Manage -> Computer Management -> Storage -> Disk Management -> select the problematic drive and then format it here. If this won't help, use this third-party HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool to format. It should work.

Step 4. It’s not over. If step 2 doesn't recover all of your lost files. Now you should try to re-use the data recovery software recommended to re-scan the disk to see if you can rescue more data. Note: a quick format won't erase the data permanently, learn more from this article for why.

That's all what I want to share. Do you find the solution? Will the message "The drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now" still appears? Or any new problems? Let me know, leave a comment below.


  1. i try in the disk management tab. but it say the storage section is unreadable. I did not need data of my memory card. i want to repair it. please help meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

  2. Hi, FAIZ. It seems that your memory card is not read properly by your computer. You can try one of the following options.
    1. Change the way you connect your memory card to the PC (maybe your memory card is OK, but the stuff you use to connect is problematic). For example, if you were using USB cable to connect, then connect it via a card reader (take the memory card out of the device, load the card to a card reader and plug into your computer).

    2. Sometimes your memory card and computer may have some incompatibilities, thus the card is not readable. In this case try format the memory card through a cell phone or digital camera etc as usually format options are available there once your card is recognized.

    Hope the ways will help. Regards

  3. When I tried Recuva and clicked on the location of my SD card, even it asked me if I wanted to format it. It will not even search on that drive at all. Please help

  4. I belive that this problem is the same as that affected floppy disks (when we used them)and the disks were removed from the drives before the drive had parked their Heads. This then usually caused a damaged boot sector. As the boot sector has all the info about the disk. If the PC can't read the boot sector then it makes the drive US. I am thinking that not safely removing a USB device correctly, can cause the same problem.

  5. Hi John Zhang,

    I have a Western Digital External Hardrive (500gb) that has been working fine for the past few years and as of tuesday when I plug the device into my laptop, it shows 'disk not formatted, would you like to format now?' I have come across Test Disk in a few other forums. Bearing in mind I have very little knowledge of computers, software and just general IT, I have a slight concern.

    My concern is that if i do recover some data, how can tell Test Disk to transfer the files to my new external hard drive? (I have little space on my laptop)

    Many thanks for your blog! It was very handy! :)



  6. Hi there,

    My external harddrive (formatted to Mac OS) has some footages which I would like to extract and save somewhere else before reformatting the harddrive and make it compatible to Windows.

    I don't use Mac anymore and when I connect the hard drive to my laptop (Windows Vista OS), I can't even open and view the files stored in it.

    Please help!

  7. when card ain't detectable then how gonna solution work and is too slow to react on data rec0very and format it.
    Issues are bad sectors who aint allowing it to format and to read normally.
    How to get rid of those bad sector who could be kill repair, deleted or any trick which make it format under those bad bad too bad sectors.

  8. Hi John Zhang,

    my sd card is not working i have tried to format it by was useless as for my 4gb card it says capacity 30.4 mb . plz help me...........

  9. i copy i film to my memory card and after that i wanted to delete it when i deleted then again i put my memory card into my PC it was again there i again delete it it was again there i try to format it. it shows format was uncompleted plz help me

  10. Thank you for this useful info! I could recover lots of files by using Recuva.

  11. run chkdsk
    G: /r -if your disk is drive g:

  12. hi there! i upoaded a picture and then when im already done..and insert the memory card to the will say that the disk is not formatted..what should i do? olease help!

  13. Sir, I have tried all steps mentioned by you above..Still I cant get my files..It still shows the same error."the dist is not formatted, do you want to format it now?"

    Please help me.It contains my office data.

  14. I've connected a Terra bytes sata drive to my computer and a ITA ita window is installed and i have this problem with my terra bytes drive
    i'n cannot use recovery tools to recover data is will need another terra bytes drive and lot if time
    plz tell me any way to get access in the drive without formating :\

  15. so after a disk get formatted its erased?

  16. THANK YOU!!!!
    My problem was that I used my 64GB Patriot Thumb Drive to back up my bro's Mac OSX Lion computer using Time Machine. My bro never bought another Mac computer, so I decided to use it. Windows 7 recognized it, but it wasn't showing on "My Computer". I did everything recommended on the internet, but nothing worked until I tried "Or if this won't help, use this third-party HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool to format." This tool recognized it immediately and FINALLY I was able to reformatted it back to the way it was. Also, to add, I'm on a Windows XP SP3 since everyone recommended to go to other PC's. I never tried it on a Mac, so I don't know if it would've solved this problem. Anyways, thank you for the tip and I hope my situation helps someone in the future. GO HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, GO!!! And thank you to "JZ' u made my day a lot better. Peace!!!

  17. I need help, I don't care if I lose files on my micro SD card I already have them on my comp I only use it for music, I can load everything to it later. When I plug it into my computer it I click on the removable disk and it asks, "The disk in drive E is not formatted, would you like to format now." I click yes and it says disk cannot be formatted, so I tried a few programs, everything is either telling me it can't format or it's write protected, I'm not using a micro SD adapter by the way it's a USB type deal you put the micro SD into, anyways, I tried putting it in my phone, it reads in my phone and it also has the option to format the card fro my phone, so I formatted the card from my phone, put it back in my comp and it's saying the same exact thing.... Someone please help me, I need my music on the go

  18. try to use command: (cmd)
    type:chkdsk /r

  19. I have a 64GB SDXC memory card and use the camcorder Sony cx190e. I shot some videos. And when I wanted to copy video to computer via camcorder I could not do it, because the computer does not see them. But I can watch movies on / in camera without any problem. Then I went into my computer and tried to open disk G and appeared: The disk in drive G is not formatted. Do you want to format it now? Tell me please what to do? How is it possible that the camcorder can record and then watch what was recorded on it, and on computer is not possible to watch what we shot? I use Windows XP SP3. It's possible that Windows will not read SDXC memory card because it's the type exFAT? If I have to buy a card reader for SDXC I can copy movies to the computer? Will this help me? Or must format SDXC? Please help me. Expect any proposals and solutions. Regards, Dan.

    1. You need to install the Microsoft HF that adds exFAT support to XP

      Another Dan

  20. I have a laptop that cannot formatted, when fomatted from cd the processing takes several hours or did not start format. Can anyone help. its an HP brand.