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WD external drive - "needs to be formatted before using"

  1. My external drive does not come up when plugged into any laptop or computer. It leaves a message saying it needs to be formatted. I say drive E for a second and then it never came back. How can I get my stuff out? please help.
  2. TheHawk

    TheHawk TS Enthusiast Posts: 32   +9

  3. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185

    Hi Cecilia. And welcome to TechSpot.

    That message about need formatting may occur if the partition table on the external drive is corrupt. This may happen if someone unplugs the drive abruptly and without using the Savely Remove Hardware button. If the E drive appears and disappears it may be a hardware problem with the disk drive. But I'd suggest first trying to use TestDisk to analyze the disk and try and recover the partition table.

    > You'll find the TestDisk site is HERE. There are some step-by-step instructions HERE but I think the steps for your case should be straight forward and mostly you can take the default options

    Unplug your USB device from the machine. Click HERE to download TestDisk. Unzip the folder and place the folder and contents on your Desktop.
    > Look in the folder and right click testdsik_win.exe and run as administrator.
    > On first screen, hit Enter to Create a new log file
    > The next window shows the disk devices detected. This will probably just reflect your Hard drive. Note how many entries are there so when you re-run the tool with your USB drive attached, you'll know which one it is

    You can exit TestDisk. Plug in your USB drive. Start TestDisk again, follow the prompts and this time select your USB drive. Does the USB drive size displayed by TestDisk seem right? If so, continue to the next screens and see if testdisk can recover the partition table.

    > If it can, now look for your files/folders again with Windows
    > If not, tell me what happened. There may be another tool we can still use

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