How to Format Floppy Disk without Losing Data

Is your floppy disk giving you error messages to format it while you are trying to access it? Learn the various methods to format the floppy disk and recover data with Recoverit.

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Sep 23, 2022 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

While trying to copy my crucial data from one of my floppy disks, I got the message “You need to format the disk, before using it.” Can anyone suggest how to format the floppy disk without losing data?

A Floppy disk is a portable storage device that is capable of storing your computer data. As earlier, there were no USB or CD-ROM drives, so it was the only medium to store information. Because of its low capacity, it is not widely used now. But some people use floppy diskettes to store small files.

Like other external storage devices, a floppy disk is also prone to corruption. On developing some faults, it starts displaying error messages to format a disk for making it usable.

Instead of following the message, read this article to recover and read files off your floppy disk. We will guide you with the different ways of formatting floppy disks on Windows and Mac operating systems and how to recover data with the Recoverit data recovery software.

Part 1- Overview of Formatting Floppy Disk

The primary hardware- floppy disk is used for storing and transferring a small amount of data between different computers. But the disk can encounter problems and lead to data corruption which displays error messages that requires formatting of the drive.

What is a floppy disk?

The thin and flexible magnetic storage device that is enclosed in a sealed square plastic case is known as floppy, diskette, or disk. There are three standard sizes of floppy disks. The first invented size was 8-inch, and then it came in 5¼-inch with a storing capacity from 100K to 1.2MB. Later microfloppies were also invented with a size of 3½-inch and have the largest storing capacity from 400K to 1.4MB.

You can read or write data to the removable diskette drive, but they are slower to access. Now it is no longer a familiar storage device because of its less storage capacity in comparison to other storage mediums like USB drives, etc.

What does formatting a floppy disk mean? Does formatting a floppy disk erase data?

Formatting a floppy disk means to prepare it for first-time use. However, mostly the disks come pre-formatted. But with time the initial formatting is lost, and the disk can become corrupted. So, it is also required and done at later stages to erase the corrupted data, or to create additional space, etc. The format will provide you the access to an empty and new disk.

Formatting a floppy disk is beneficial in many ways, but the process should be initiated only when it is essential.

Are you wondering if formatting will erase the stored floppy disk information? Well, the answer to your question is absolute, yes! Formatting will surely erase the stored or pre-existing data of your drive or disk. It is necessary to take a backup before you begin to format a floppy disk. The backup enables you to restore your files after formatting.

Reasons for Formatting Floppy Disk

Various reasons lead to the formatting of the floppy disk. Some of the error messages or formatting reasons are:

Part 2- How to Format Floppy Disk in Windows 10/8/7

Whether you work on Windows 10, 8, or 7, you can format the floppy disk with in-built formatting tools or with Command Prompt. But remember formatting will erase all the stored information, so make sure you have backup or data saved at a secure drive. Learn the different ways of how do you erase a floppy disk?

Format by File Explorer

File explorer is the computer program that allows you to manage different folders and files through its user interface. Begin floppy disk formatting with it by the below steps.

Step 1- Insert Floppy Disk and Open the Run Dialogue Box

Before looking for the required disk that needs formatting, confirm it is inserted with right-side-up, and the disk should not be in the locked state. Click on Start and type run; it will open the Run dialogue box

Step 2- Open Explorer and Click on My Computer

In the Open: field type explorer and click on OK. You can also open it by pressing ⊞ Win+E to see all the drives, by clicking on my computer.

windows explorer window

Step 3- Right-click on the Floppy Disk and then select Format

From the available list of drives, select the floppy disk that is usually represented as A: or B: and then click on the Format from the File menu.

File menu

Step 4- Choose the Settings

Once you click on the format, you will come across a window, as shown in the image below. Set the parameters as mentioned below:

settings for formatting

Step 5- Click on Start and Then on OK

Begin the format by clicking on the start button. When the confirmation box appears, click on OK to continue the formatting of the floppy disk.

confirmation box

When the formatting completes it displays the window showing Format Complete. Click on OK and close the window. Your floppy is ready for use now.

format complete

Format by Command Prompt

The command-line interpreter is available in almost all Windows operating systems. You can format the floppy disk with the inbuilt command prompt with the below –mentioned steps.

Step 1- Open Command Prompt

Press ⊞ Win+R from the keyboard and type cmd in the run dialogue box.

cmd in the run dialogue box

Step 2- Insert Floppy Disk

Ensure to insert the disk first before looking for it in the computer, and it should not be in the locked state.

Step 3- Type: format *:

Begin the basic formatting by typing the above command. Here * is the letter that is assigned to the floppy drive by the computer.

Step 4- Confirm the Formatting

When prompted press Y and confirm to start the formatting.

You can modify the format by adding several switches at the end of the format command.

For Vista and later operating systems, it is the best way to erase the sensitive information from the computer completely.

Fix "Windows 10 Unable to Format Floppy Disk"

While formatting the floppy disk are you getting the message "Windows 10 unable to format a floppy disk?" If you are receiving the mentioned error message, you can fix it with Windows Disk Management.

Follow these steps to fix the issue.

Step 1- Go to Computer and click on Manage

Right-click on the "My Computer" or "Computer" menu and from the available options, click on Manage.

image showing manage option

Step 2- Open Windows Disk Management

In the left pane, you can view Disk Management, click on it.

arrow pointing Disk Management

You can also open disk management by typing "diskmgmt.msc" in the run dialogue box.

diskmgmt.msc in run option

Step 3- Right-Click Floppy Disk and Click on Format

Select the floppy disk for which formatting is required. Right-click on it and hit on "Format"

window showing format option

Step 4- Select the Format of File System and click on "OK"

Once you made the selection of file system format, begin formatting by clicking on OK.

If some unallocated space is there in the disk, that doesn't have any file system, it will be seen here. You need to right-click and select "New Simple Volume." The wizard will guide you through creating a new partition. Follow the screen instructions and select "next."

When the process completes, your floppy drive becomes recognizable by the system, after being formatted.

Part 3- How to Format Floppy Disk on Mac

Being a Mac user if you want to format the floppy disk on your system, then these steps will guide you to do it easily and correctly.

Step 1- Insert Floppy Disk

Before initiating the Recoverit data recovery software, connect your floppy disk with the Mac. Make sure it is visible in the list of drives.

Step 2- Open Disk Utility Program

Reach Disk Utility by following this path:

Menu – Utilities – Disk Utility

macOS utilities window

Step 3- Select Floppy Disk

From the left pane of Disk Utilities, select your floppy disk.

image showing the floppy disk in macbook pro

Step 4- Click on Erase

After selecting the floppy disk, you will be able to view the "Erase" tab in the disk utility window.

erase button highlighted

Step 5- Select Format

If you are using disc only with Mac then from the Volume Format menu, you can select "Mac OS Standard." But if you are planning to use a floppy disk with multiple operating systems, then select "FAT." Label the disk with your preferred name.

Step 6- Start Format

Click on "Erase" to initiate the formatting. You can monitor the progress by viewing at the bar of the Disk Utility window.


Part 4- How to Recover Data from Hard Drive after Format?

If you find your critical data lost after disk formatting, what should you do to get them back? Recoverit data recovery software can help you in recovering the lost files from your hard drive.

Recoverit Data recovery

Recoverit Mac Data Recovery is the leading data recovery software with a high recovery rate in retrieving lost and deleted data. It supports above 550 file formats and helps you to restore data from the external device, recycle bin, desktop, and even from the crashed computer.

Video Tutorial on How to Recover Data from Formatted Hard Drive

Recent Videos from Recoverit

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Follow these three easy steps to regain access to your deleted data:

Step 1- Insert Floppy Disk

Before initiating the Recoverit data recovery software, connect your floppy disk with the computer. Make sure it is visible in the list of drives.

Step 2- Select the Disk

To recover the deleted data, select the floppy disk from where you have lost your data. Select your disc from the available drives that are visible on the computer. Once you have chosen the location, begin the scanning by clicking on the "Start" button.


Step 2- Scan the Floppy Disk

The software starts scanning with an all-around scan. Depending on the file size, it takes time ranging from a few minutes to hours to complete the scan. You can even pause or stop the running scan anytime for your convenience. Like if you have found your lost data or it might be any other reason.


Step 3- Preview and Recover Data

Before moving on to the recovery step, Recoverit lets you view the files that are found during the scan. You can see by selecting them and clicking on the preview button. Some of the vital information like modified date, file path, size, and name can also be seen here.

After reviewing and confirming the files found during the scan, select the targeted ones. Complete the recovery procedure by clicking on the "Recover" button and save the data to your desired path.


It is vital to mention here that you should never save recovered files on the location from where you have lost them originally. Doing so will increase the chances of data overwriting and can even lead to loss of data permanently. So, it is necessary always to select a new location for saving data after recovering it.

If you are thinking about "how do I format a floppy disk in Windows 10 making it unrecoverable" than formatting alone is not enough. As only with formatting the disc, recovery software can make you recover the formatted or deleted data. So if you want to erase the data making it unrecoverable even with Recoverit data recovery software, then you can do it with the disk wiping software.

Closing Words

So if you are using the floppy disk drives to store small-sized files, then while using them you can come across certain errors. When the disk shows some errors and directs you to format it to use the floppy disk you can do it with the detailed steps that are mentioned above. Whether you are a Mac or Windows user, we have discussed both the scenarios.

It is necessary to take a backup of the drive before beginning the formatting, as when you format the floppy disk, it will delete all the stored data on it. However, if you forgot to take a backup, Recoverit data recovery software would help you to recover your deleted data.

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