The specified disk or diskette cannot be accessed

By: Madeleine Dean
5 minute read
disk or diskette cannot be accessed

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If you’re getting the ‘ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK‘ error code with ‘The specified disk or diskette cannot be accessed‘ description, follow the troubleshooting steps listed in this article to fix it.

ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK: Background

‘The specified disk or diskette cannot be accessed’ error occurs if the hard disk is not properly formatted for the appropriate file system. This error code prevents users from accessing and modifying the content of the drive.

How to fix ‘The specified disk cannot be accessed’ error

Solution 1 —Unplug and re-plug the external drive

If you’re getting this error with removable storage, unplug the storage device. Close all software on your taskbar and plug the external storage back in. You can also restart Windows before you plug the external HDD back in. Then, retry the action that triggered the ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK error code.

Solution 2 — Reinstall external hard drives

Reinstalling the storage device might also fix this issue. Of course, you can’t do that for HDDs with Windows on them, but you can reinstall external storage drives affected by the ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK error code.

  1. Go to Start > type ‘device manager’ to launch Device Manager.
  2. Click Disk drives to expand that section > right-click the external disk drive to fix.
  3. Select the Uninstall option on the context menu.
  4. Press the Scan for hardware changes button to reinstall the disk drive.

Solution 3— Check your disk for errors

On Windows 10, you can run a disk check using Command Prompt.

Start Command Prompt as administrator and type the chkdsk C: /f command followed by Enter. Replace C with the letter of your hard drive partition.

As a quick reminder, if you do not use the /f parameter, chkdsk displays a message that the file needs to be fixed, but it does not fix any errors. The chkdsk D: /f command detects and repairs logical issues affecting your drive. To repair physical issues, run the /r parameter as well.

On Windows 7, go to hard drives > right-click the drive that you want to check  > select Properties > Tool. Under the ‘Error checking’ section, click Check and check the ‘Automatically fix system file errors’ option.

Solution 4— Clean your temporary files and folders

The simplest and quickest manner to delete your temporary files and folders is to use Disk Cleanup. As you use your computer or browse the Internet, your PC accumulates various unnecessary files.

These so called junk files may affect your computer’s performance and also trigger various error codes, including the ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK error code. Clean your temporary files and then try to use your drive again.

Here’s how to use Disk Cleanup on Windows 10:

1. Go to Start > type Disk Cleanup > launch the tool

2. Select the disk that you want to clean > the tool will them tell you how much space you can free up

3. Select “Clean up system files”.

Here’s how to use Disk Cleanup on Windows 7:

  1. Go to Start > type Disk Cleanup > open Disk Cleanup.
  2. In Disk Cleanup’s description section, select Clean up system files and select the drive that you want to clean up > click OK.
  3. On the Disk Cleanup tab, select the check boxes for the file types that you want to delete > click OK > select Delete files.

Solution 5 — Use the previous drive letter/ change the drive letter

If the ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK error code occurred after you changed the letter of your drive, try restoring the previous letter.

1. Go to Search > type “disk management” > select the first result > launch the tool
2. Select the problematic drive > right-click it > select Change driver letters and paths


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This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

3. Click on the Change button > restore the previous driver letter > click OK.

Solution 6 — Run a full system scan

Malware may cause various issues on your computer, including errors. Perform a full system scan in order to detect any malware running on your computer. You can use Windows’ built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, or third-party antivirus solutions.

Here’s how to run a full system scan on the latest Windows 10 version:

  1. Go to Start > type ‘defender’ > double click Windows Defender to launch the tool
  2. In the left hand pane, select the shield icon
  3. In the new window, click the Advanced scan option
  4. Check the full scan option to launch a full system malware scan.

Solution 7 — Install the MiniTool Partition Wizard

MiniTool Partition Wizard is a highly rated freeware disk partition manager and data recovery tool that supports most storage devices. This can also fix disk structure errors for drive partitions. Press the Download button on MiniTool’s home page to add the program to Windows and fix your disk drive with that software as follows.

  1. Open the MiniTool Partition Wizard window that lists all connected hard drives.
  2. Select the corrupted disk drive > click Check File System on the left of the window.
  3. A Check File System window opens > select the Check & fix detected errors option.
  4. Press the Start button to initiate the scan.
  5. Restart Windows after the MiniTool Partition Wizard file system scan.

Solution 8— Format your hard drive

If the solutions above didn’t work, try formatting the problematic drive. Formatting and restoring the default drive settings should fix this error. Keep in mind that formatting your drive means deleting all the files and folders stored on the respective drive.

You can format your drive using Command Prompt:

1. Go to Start > type cmd > right-click the cmd search result > select “Run as administrator”
2. Type format C: /FS:exFAT > hit Enter to begin formatting the C drive as exFAT. Replace C: with the letter of the problematic drive.

You can also format your drive using the Disk Management utility:

1. Go to Start > type ‘disk management‘ > select the Disk Management utility

2. Right-click the drive that you want to format > select the Format option

3. Follow the on-screen instructions to further customize the format process > click OK on the warning window.

4. Once the format process finishes, you can use your drive. Try to install the updates again to see if this action fixed the problem.

We hope that the solutions listed above helped you fix the ERROR_NOT_DOS_DISK error code. As always, if you’ve come across other workarounds to fix this problem, you can help the Windows community by listing the troubleshooting steps in the comments below.

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For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

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