Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

One of my systems, running WinXP SP3, can no longer access FAT and FAT32 formatted drives.

When I insert a USB flash drive, it is recognized and assigned a drive letter, but when I try to access it I get a "disk not formatted" error. The same drives can be accessed fine from a different computer (same OS).

The machine also stopped reading floppies, even those that were formatted on it (needless to say, these floppies can be read perfectly on other machines).

It used to work until a couple of months ago (I don't use that computer often). I suspect that Windows update broke something.

The interesting part is that, from the command line, CHKDSK and FORMAT seem to work fine bit DIR doesn't. Explorer just returns an error and Disk manager only sees "raw" partitions.

USB drive (FAT32) example:

> chkdsk e: /v
The type of the file system is FAT32.
Volume Serial Number is 0481-EB4A
Windows is verifying files and folders...
0 percent completed.
\README.TXT
50 percent completed.
100 percent completed.
File and folder verification is complete.
Windows has checked the file system and found no problems.

3,918,512,128 bytes total disk space.
       16,384 bytes in 1 files.
3,918,479,360 bytes available on disk.

       16,384 bytes in each allocation unit.
      239,167 total allocation units on disk.
      239,165 allocation units available on disk.

> dir e:
The volume does not contain a recognized file system.
Please make sure that all required file system drivers
are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.

Floppy (FAT16) example:

> format a:
Insert new disk for drive A:
and press ENTER when ready...
The type of the file system is FAT.
Verifying 1.44M
Initializing the File Allocation Table (FAT)...
Volume label (11 characters, ENTER for none)?
Format complete.

    1,457,664 bytes total disk space.
    1,457,664 bytes available on disk.

          512 bytes in each allocation unit.
        2,847 allocation units available on disk.

           12 bits in each FAT entry.

Volume Serial Number is F885-2FA3

> chkdsk a: /v
The type of the file system is FAT.
Volume Serial Number is F885-2FA3
Windows is verifying files and folders...
0 percent completed.
100 percent completed.
File and folder verification is complete.
Windows has checked the file system and found no problems.

    1,457,664 bytes total disk space.
    1,457,664 bytes available on disk.

          512 bytes in each allocation unit.
        2,847 total allocation units on disk.
        2,847 allocation units available on disk.

> dir a:
The volume does not contain a recognized file system.
Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded
and that the volume is not corrupted.

Please help.

Thank you, Alex.

EDIT: Apparently, it cannot read the CD/DVD drive as well. Joy.

share|improve this question
1  
What file system do you have installed on the Windows XP machine? Is it NTFS or FAT32? –  PeanutsMonkey Oct 12 '11 at 6:57
    
The hard drives are formatted as NTFS –  Alex O Oct 12 '11 at 14:19
add comment

1 Answer

SFC /SCANNOW seems to have fixed it.

I had to copy the I386 files from a slipstreamed XP-SP3 installation to the machine's hard drive over the network and change some registry settings to make it work but it seemed to have worked and the file systems were recognized after a restart.

I'll wait to see if the problem resurfaces.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.