Press "Home" for 2 seconds, 4 or five icons should appear (this is the menu). Select the "suitcase", go to "Advanced Menu", enter and select "Initialize", there you will find "Format". All data will be lost.
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you are not supposed to tranfer files via sonicstage or just copy mp3 you should be able to browse the mp3player as drive and in 1 of it's folder you will see a program which is used to transfer your file and it converts them to the file the player can read.
I hade just that prob. "format error" used to display. I did this:
1. dwl sonicStage (free)
2.- in the walkman went to menu/initialize/format
then displayed a confirmation screen, I confirmed
it displayed "formating...... COMPLETE"
3.- THEN plugged into the PC and transfered songs with Sonic
and it worked!
if you've already formatted it through the mp3 player, you can't get back your music. you need to download sonicstage or use the MP3 File Manager program (available here http://sourceforge.net/projects/nwe00xmp3man) i prefer that program because you atually store it on the mp3 player. it's very lightweight and you can use any computer to load music onto it without installing sonicstage.
after formatting any sort of disk, you can't get data back that was once there (with some exceptions). Start downloading new music!