Fix: The “Disk structure is corrupted and unreadable” error in Windows

By: Matthew Adams
4 minute read

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The “Disk structure is corrupted and unreadable” error occurs when a hard disk has a corrupted partition. When that happens, Windows can’t access the corrupted partition and open its files. While the error is more common in external disk drives, it can also occur with internal HDDs.

If this happens on your internal HDD, it’s far more serious since it houses your installation of Windows. In the worst case scenario, you might not be able to boot into Windows. This problem on external storage disks is less dramatic. Below are a few fixes for the “Disk structure is corrupted” error in Windows.

Unplug and re-plug the external HDD or USB drive

If you’re getting this error with removable storage such as USB drive, unplug the storage device. Then, close all software on your taskbar and plug the external storage back in. Or, reboot Windows before you plug the external HDD back in. Then, try opening the same files you did before when you got the “Disk structure is corrupted” error.

Run a Check Disk (CHKDSK) Scan

Windows has a Check Disk utility that scans hard disks and fixes any errors it might find. It checks the disk’s file system integrity, such as those in the Master File Table. This is undoubtedly the best Windows tool to fix the “Disk structure is corrupted” error with.

  • Press the File Explorer button on the Windows taskbar.
  • Click This PC on the left of the File Explorer window.

  • Now you can right-click the C: drive or other external storage devices with corrupted disk structures. Select Properties from the context menu.
  • Select the Tools tab, which includes a Check button.

  • Press the Check button and click Scan drive to run a CHKDSK scan.
  • Alternatively, you can also run CHKDSK via Command Prompt, which has parameter switches. First, press the Win key + X hotkey and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  • To scan the C: HDD, input ‘chkdsk /r c:’ in the Command Prompt and press Enter. Alternatively, for external storage or another drive partition replace C with the appropriate drive letter.

The scan will probably take a few hours, but it all depends on the size of your HDD. It will be somewhat quicker for external drives. Note that Windows might also schedule the scan to start on the next system reboot.

Reinstall external hard drives

Reinstalling the storage device might also fix this issue. This isn’t something you can do for HDDs with Windows on them, but you can reinstall external storage drives with the disk structure error. Follow these steps to do so:

  • Enter ‘Device Manager’ in the Windows search box and select Device Manager.
  • Click Disk drives to expand that section, and then right-click the external disk drive to fix.
  • Select the Uninstall option on the context menu.
  • Press the Scan for hardware changes button to reinstall the disk drive.

  • Restart Windows after the disk has reinstalled.

Fix the HDD with M3 RAW

There are numerous third-party programs you can use to fix disk structure errors with. M3 RAW is one that checks and repairs file systems. While it isn’t freeware, you can add the trial version to Windows from this website and fix a disk drive with it.

  • Open M3 RAW and select the drive to fix.
  • Click the Next button to scan the disk drive.
  • The software will show you a list of files on the disk drive. Press the Fix Drive button to fix the disk drive.

Fix the HDD With MiniTool Partition Wizard

MiniTool Partition Wizard is a highly rated freeware disk partition manager that boasts a 20 million-strong userbase and 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.

  • Open the MiniTool Partition Wizard window that lists all connected hard drives.

  • Select the corrupted disk drive, and click Check File System on the left of the window.
  • A Check File System window opens from which you can select the Check & fix detected errors option.
  • Press the Start button to initiate the scan.
  • Restart Windows after the MiniTool Partition Wizard file system scan.

Format the external disk drive

This is a fix more specifically for external drives that don’t include Windows, such as flash USB sticks. Formatting a drive erases all its contents and establishes a new file system to replace the corrupted one. This is a good fix if the files on the storage drive aren’t essential. But if you really need to keep some of the drive’s content, save the files with a data recovery utility program such as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. Then, format the drive as follows:

  • Plug the external storage device into desktop or laptop.
  • Open File Explorer and click This PC to open a list of devices and drives.
  • Then, right-click a drive listed there and select Format to open the window below.

  • Choose a file system format from the File system drop-down menu.
  • Select the Quick Format option if it’s not already selected, and press the Start button to format drive.

Those are some of the best ways you can fix corrupted disk structures with Windows tools and third-party software. This Windows Report guide provides further details for some of the other handy third-party disk management utilities that you can fix this error with. If you still can’t fix the hard drive, it might be a hardware issue.

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