2 Steps to Fix “You need to format the disk…”

Out of sudden, my hard disk is not working. It requires to format before I can regain access. It looks like this

In this post, “format” refers to Disk formatting*


If you have important data in the hard disk/ thumb drive/ USB hard drive, you probably will not want to format it.

So this post shows you what to do. You can jump straight to the Step by Step if you need to get it recovered immediately.

Why does it happened?

Hard disk functions like brain cells. And you are trying to read information inside the cells. When some brain cells are dead, you can’t read it anymore and everything goes haywire.

What we are trying to fix in this post is to reallocate those dead cells so that you are unable to access it and cause error. Of course if you are aware, information stored in cells and not 1 cell, so if it happens that your important document that is residing within the dead sector, your file is corrupted and you can’t get it back.

But good news is, you can access to the rest of your other documents. Anyway, it still depends on how much damaged is your brain cells.

What we are trying to do here, is to reallocate bad sectors so that it is inaccessible and try to recovers as much good sectors as possible rather than formatting it.

Step by Step to recover your hard disk/ thumb drive.

  1. Open Command Prompt – Type CMD and Enter in Search panel(Old Windows in Run panel)
  2. Type chkdsk F: /r /f (F is the drive letter)

Note: You need administrator access to run the above.

This command is able to fix bad sectors on the selected drive without touching any file. For the security of data, it is recommended to make a backup before using this command.

If you see a prompt: “CHKDSK is not available in RAW drives.”
Bad news! You need a software to help you on this. This command only works in FAT32/NTFS drives.

Another Way – Do it in Windows UI

This functions exactly the same as above.

  1. Right Click on the Drive
  2. Go to Tools> Check now… (In Error-checking)
  3. Tick both “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”
  4. Click Start

If you want to do it in Command Prompt, this is same as

  1. Open Command Prompt – Type CMD and Enter in Search panel(Old Windows in Run panel)
  2. Type sfc /scannow /offbootdir=F:\ (F is the drive letter)


*Disk formatting

In order for storage media, such as a hard drive or flash drive to be recognised by your computer, it first needs to be initialised, or “formatted.” Formatting a disk involves testing the disk and writing a new file system onto the disk. This enables the computer to read the disk’s directory structure, which defines the way files and folders are organised on the disk.

You can use a disk utility program to format or reformat a disk. This will create a blank, empty disk for storing your files. Therefore, only format disks that don’t contain important data or make sure you have backed up your data before reformatting a disk!

When you reformat a disk, it will appear to be empty. This is because the directory structure has been rewritten, making the entire disk space available for writing new data. However, the old files are still on the disk. They just don’t show up since they are no longer included in the directory structure. So if you accidentally format a disk (which is pretty hard to do), you may be able to retrieve your files using a disk utility such as Norton Disk Doctor or DiskWarrior.

Hope you find this useful.


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