Why does my hard drive need to be formatted

I've lots of files on my external hard drive, now when I plug it in it says the drive needs formatted, any solutions? lots of stuff on it that i need for work...in the morning...
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More about hard drive formatted
  1. You will need access to a PC that has Ubuntu or some other linux distro on it (alternatively, you can download and run Ubuntu from a CD without installing it). Linux does not need an HDD to be formatted in a specific filesystem, it can access a wide variety of filesystems, including RAW. You should be able to access and save your files from that HDD. Then, you can re-format it and use it again under Windows.
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