External hard drive inaccessible? Format External Drive or run Check Disk using CMD

Today I tried to connect my old Seagate external drive to my Windows PC after a long time and found that I was just unable to access it. When I connected it, in the Computer 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 the 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, 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 computer.

Additional information: Command Line Check Disk Options.

Hope this helps you someday.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. 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.