My external HDD says it needs to be formatted

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Jun 15, 2012
Hi guys. Yesterday, I plugged in an external hdd into my computer in order to watch some movies. The first thing that popped up on my screen was a message saying the drive has to be formatted. I can't format the drive because it's not mine and the owner has very very important info on it. I've tried it on another system and it says the same message. Please help me. Is there a way I can salvage the information on it? Or recover it? PLEASE help me. Thank you. P.S. I've used the hdd to watch movies before and it never had a problem.


Sounds like it's dying. Happens a lot, they use the cheapest, crapiest drives in external cases usually, and heat and movement kill them over time. Desktop drives aren't really meant to move much and externals take a lot of abuse.

You can google free recovery software and try and run it, but it seems like it's dying. Let this be a lesson to your friend, don't ever keep all your "important" files on 1 harddrive.


Mar 7, 2010

Although getochkn may be correct and the driv'es dead;

Most of the time (almost always) when I see this message with an external drive it means the data is corrupted, not that the disk is bad so try this first; it is quite possible that the drive is not, in fact failing. Since windows is telling you the drive needs to be formatted we know it can't read it, but before you give up and toss the puppy or invest lots of time and probably a goodly spot of change in recovery software try running chkdsk from the command prompt - like this:

Start: All Programs: Accessories: right click on Command Prompt, select Run as administrator

now type in the DOS window:

chkdsk Z: /x

substitute the drive letter of the problem drive for the Z, /x dismounts the drive and fixes any problems found, if they can be fixed

hit enter... wait for it to finish...

to get more options you can type:

chkdsk /?

which will give you the options for using chkdsk the /? means display help for this command.

if no joy resort to recovery software,,, the free ones and the cheap ones don't (in my experience) work too well... you'll need a good drive with enough space to hold all the data you recover, Don't try to recover to the affected drive, you'll overwrite data you're trying to save...

Good Luck!

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