Format External Drive or run Check Disk using Command Prompt

Today I tried to connect my old Seagate external drive to my Windows 8.1 PC after a long time and found that I was just unable to access it. When I connected it, in the This PC folder, the green bar just kept loading, and when I tried to right-click on this drive letter, the circle just kept whirling round and round. The only way I felt I could start using the external drive again was to check it for disk errors and format it, if required.

External hard drive inaccessible

If you face such a situation, where you find that your USB or external hard drive has become inaccessible, then this tutorial will help you as it shows how you can check disk for errors and format it too, using CMD or the Command Prompt, and hopefully succeed in getting back access to it.

Run Check Disk using CMD


Using the WinX Menu in Windows 8, open an elevated command prompt windows and type the following:

chkdsk /f E:

Here E is the letter of the USB or external drive – or any drive for that matter – where you would like to scan for errors and repair the errors if found. So make sure you replace it with the correct letter in your case, carefully, and hit Enter.

The Check Disk operation will start on the drive, and it will also repair any errors which may be found.

Once Check Disk completed successfully on my External Drive, I found that I was able to access it.

Format Drive using CMD

I then backed up the data and decided to format it. To format a drive using CMD, type the following command and hit Enter:

format E: /fs:ntfs


Again, here E is the letter of the USB or external drive which you want to format. So make sure you replace it with the correct letter in your case, carefully. Once you are sure, hit Enter. You may be asked to enter the Disk Label too. Type it and hit Enter again.

Disk formatting will commence.

CHKDSK stops responding

If you face a situation, where CHKDSK stops responding and cannot recover from file corruption, when you run the CHKDSK /SCAN command in Windows 8, you may Run System File Checker and see if it helps. Or else you could download hotfix from KB2906994 and apply it to your Windows 8 computer.

Additional information: Command Line Check Disk Options.

Hope this helps you some day!

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.
  • arie

    simple but useful :)

  • Anand Khanse

    Thanks arie. :)

  • ErnieK

    Thanks for the tip. It is a long time since I have had to use the CMD prompt to carry out these actions. Like most things not used for a while I had forgotten how to do it. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Anand Khanse

    I needed to use it when I found that my external hard drive had become inaccessible. :)

  • Buck

    Like Ernie thanks for the reminder I too had forgotten

  • Anand Khanse

    You are welcome Buck. :)

  • Quintans Jhosua

    I’ve tried this for about 4 times yet still not working.. I tried using XP, Windows 7 and 8 still not working

  • Anand Khanse

    I just tried it on my Windows 8.1. It does work. :)

  • wai yi

    I just format, my pc show missing operation system.what i need to do for next.thx

  • Anand Khanse
  • Protausen

    Thanks man very helpfull

  • ankit

    i have external harddrive but you first time forget it but import data in harddeive why data return it,

  • Dan

    What about windows 7 professional?

  • Anand Khanse

    Yes, you use these commands.

  • Bubba Euler

    The most important use for CMD is for “pinging” to see if they’re still “up-and-running”. Time-Warner Cable is awfully inept!!!!!

  • siva

    simple but useful

  • Nana Kojo

    Worked for me

  • Rodolfo

    Thank you.
    to the symbol prendi something new system.

  • Yeetendra Kumar

    hello sir,

    i have a Toshiba 500 GB HD. it became inaccsible after over of warranty period. Now it is almost 1 year after it became inaccessbile. But i did not format it due to important file. now it is not even taking format command. can you help me. i am very afraid of this hard disk. I tried to recover the data from some free softwares but i could recocer only some of the files.

  • Nanayaw Smith

    helllo there i do have an external hard disk 1tb its called my passport but i cant access it again what can i do to recover it?

  • Mbongeni Kings-Word Dlamini

    help if i put my external on my laptop it says format and when i click format it says cant be fomarted

  • ?????? ?? ??

    halo sir
    i just tried your tip,it seems that my system is showing 0 percentage completed,could you tell me how much time it would take it is an 8 gb card

  • Dave Howard

    my problem is with my external hard drive. I typed in ‘As Above” and got a DOS message saying The type of file system is RAW. CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives. Is there anything else I can try

  • Atif Bhayo

    hai anand it gives an errorr
    “cannot determine the number of sectors on this volume”

  • Diana Morrissey

    Approximately 3 weeks, when I restarted my asus x55u computer
    Microsoft Windows began installing automatic updates. After the install
    and configuration process was complete the following windows error occurred:
    “Failure configuring Windows updates. Reverting changes. Do
    not turn off your computer” error when you try to install Windows
    updates. Now my computer goes through a continuous loop of trying to
    repair the error.
    After that, my system began a continuous loop diagnosing and then
    repairing my computer and I am unable to logon to my desktop. Ultimately,
    the following log was created
    c:windowssystem32logfilesSrtSrtTrail.txt. What this log outlined is
    the following Error code = 0x0, Root cause found: The
    operating system version is incompatible with Startup Repair. Obviously, it indicates some issue
    with compatibility, and I naturally assume it involves compatibility between
    Windows 8 and 8.1 since none of my recovery devices (usb or dvd’s) are usable
    to correctly repair my system. I can only access DOS to assess where the problem is and implement any fixes. how do I get administrator access within dos, I can’t access my desktop?

  • Spomiche


  • Akash Janbandhu

    anand, my formatting is stuck on 0%. Also, my disk size is 2TB (1.81TB) but it gets filled only 4GB. rest 1.77 shows empty.. what may be the problem?

  • susan

    Try to run CMD as administrator.

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