USB flash drives or SD cards are formatted for many reasons. Some users do it to modify their file systems. Usually, formatting on external storage devices in Windows is done by selecting the Format option in the File Explorer context menu.
But sometimes, users fail to use this technique to format their USB drives. And when they try, they receive the Windows was unable to complete the format error message on their screens.
Usually, Windows 7, 8, and 10 Operating system users receive this error. Read more to know how to solve this issue.
Reasons that Lead to Windows was Unable to Complete the Format Error Occur
- Storage devices physically damaged or corrupted
- Bad sectors
- Virus attack or malware infection
- Disk write protection
- Windows is not able to read a FAT partition table
How to Resolve Windows was Unable to Complete the Format Error?
Below are some quick and easy-to-apply solutions to remove the Windows was unable to complete the format error message so that you can format any of your external storage devices without any problem. However, different users face this error for various reasons. One method that works for one user might not work for the other because these solutions depend on system user configuration. Choose your way according to your problem to quickly resolve your issue.
Also, before formatting your device, remember that formatting will erase and remove all the data present in the device, including the ones that might be vital for you. So ensure that whether you have a backup of your data or not. Also, the backup should be up-to-date. You never know, but someday, you might need any of the data you have deleted when formatting, and then you would have to use a data recovery tool to regain the lost data. So, to avoid unforeseen circumstances, create a backup right now only.
Disable Your USB Flash Drive’s Write Protection
USB drives are created with a write-protect switch to lock or unlock them. USBs that are write-protected or whose control is closed cannot be formatted. So, ensure that the write protection switch on your USB storage device is switched upward to turn off the write protection feature.
If you cannot find the write protect switch in your flash storage device, switch it off using any third-party software to unlock the position, removing the write protection. Finally, check whether the Windows could not complete the format error message has disappeared.
Run Antivirus Scan
Flash Drives are not manufactured or developed with any Anti-virus software, so there are chances that they can gather viruses or malware in them. This virus or malware can stop the flash drive from working on your PC and prevent the drive from formatting.
In this situation, running an anti-virus scan will confirm the presence of any virus in your flash drive or SD card. Some third-party anti-virus programs automatically scan the drives when they are inserted. So use them and remove the problem of Windows being unable to complete the Format. If it doesn’t work, temporarily turn off your antivirus program for a few minutes. Maybe your antivirus is not allowing it to work correctly.
If the above two methods don’t work, you should try to fix the issue using a third-party tool, PartitionGuru.
- First, run PartitionGuru and check its main interface, showing detailed information about internal and external drives and their partitions.
- Then click on the problematic USB drive. Later, navigate to Disk & choose Verify or Repair Bad Sectors.
- It will display some conditions with colored blocks like good, bad, severe, damaged, etc. When this checking of bad sectors is completed, it will show you the number of bad sectors it has found. Afterward, click on the Repair button to repair these bad sectors.
- Finally, select the USB drive and click on the Format button to fix the issue of Windows being unable to complete the format error message.
Check Your Disk Scan
Your USB drive might contain system file errors or sectors that must be repaired. For this, you can fix the USB drive by using Check Disk Utility. Check Disk will automatically scan your USB drive and detect the file system errors to fix them. To run a chkdsk scan on your Windows PC, follow the steps:
- First, open File Explorer on your computer. Refer to this guide if you face a “Windows 10 file explorer won’t open error.
- Then, insert your drive in the USB slot to scan it.
- Afterward, click This PC and right-click on the hard drive you wish to scan using chkdsk.
- Later, select Properties from the menu.
- Afterwards, navigate to the Tools tab and click the Check button under Error checking.
- It will take a few seconds to scan the drive.
Check if Your USB Drive or SD Card is Physically Damaged
To remove the issue of Windows being unable to complete the format error, Check your flash drive or SD card properly to see if it has been damaged physically. Then, try to use it on a different computer and see if it works. If the drive doesn’t work on the other PC as well, then insert another disc in the same slot to check if there is an issue with the USB slot. This will ensure whether the problem lies with the USB drive or the slot.
Use Disk Management
This is one of the easiest methods that can be applied to format an external storage device. You can format your flash drive by using Disk Management to remove the Windows was unable to complete the format error. Follow the steps to do this:
- First, press Windows Key + R together and type “diskmgmt. msc” in the text box to launch Disk Management.
- Then right-click on the USB drive in the Disk Management window and choose Format.
- Afterward, a dialog box will appear to confirm the process. Click on Yes in it to open the window directly.
- Now, choose a file system to format the USB storage. Click on OK.
- If the USB drive shows empty with allocated file space under the Disk Management window, click on New Simple volume from the USB drive’s menu. Now format the flash drive with the new Simple Volume Wizard.
- Windows could not complete the format issue, and it will be removed.
Diskpart is another tool to format the USB flash drive for you and remove Windows’s inability to complete the format fault from your PC. Diskpart is a command line tool that can be opened using Command Prompt. Follow the steps to format USB flash drives by using Diskpart:
- First, press Windows Key + R simultaneously & type “Diskpart” in the search box.
- In the Command Prompt, enter the following commands individually, followed by Enter after each.
select disk n //where n is the disk number of the removable disk
create partition primary
format FS=FAT32 quick or format FS=NTFS quick
assign letter N: where N: can be another drive letter not occupied currently
- This will resolve your issue for sure.
Turn off the Write Protection Feature using Registry.
Follow the steps to remove Windows was unable to complete the format error message by using this method:
- First, press Windows Key + R together, type “regedit,” and press Enter key.
- Then navigate to the following key:
- Afterwards, find the registry key WriteProtect in StorageDevicePolicies.
- Then, double-click the WriteProtect key and change its value from 1 to 0 to disable the Write Protection feature. Click OK.
- Afterwards, reboot your computer to save the changes.
- Now check the external storage device you need to format and if you have fixed the Windows unable to complete the format error message.
Format Drive Using Command Prompt
Using the command prompt, you can fix Windows unable to complete the format error message in your PC.
- First, simultaneously press Windows Key + X on your keyboard and choose Command Prompt (Admin).
- Next, type the commands given below and hit the Enter key after each one:
Select disk volume (e.g., I typed Select Disk 1)
create partition primary
format fs=ntfs quick
- Now, you might receive this message
- The format cannot run as another process uses the volume. The Format might run if you dismount the volume first. ALL OPENED HANDLES TO THIS VOLUME WOULD THEN BE INVALID. Would you like to force a dismount on this volume?” Yes/No
- Afterwards, choose Yes in it and hit the Enter key.
- This will format your flash drive or SD Card, and if Windows cannot complete the format, the error message will be removed.
Use Third-Party Software to Format the Flash Drive
Several third-party software can help you remove the Windows unable to complete the format error. So, if you cannot format the drive using File Explorer, you can use software like EaseUS Partition Master Free or AOMEI Partition Assistant. Both are available for free & you can format your USB flash drive with this by right-clicking on listed storage devices in their window and then choosing Format Partition.
Why can I not format my hard disk drive?
There are several reasons why the external HDD won't format problem may occur, this includes: Malware or virus infection. Missing or damaged DLL, SYS, or EXE files. ... Damaged hard drive partition.
How to force a Windows 10 format?
This is also included in Windows 10 and is the best way to factory reset a Windows computer in most cases. Head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery to access this Windows reinstall option. You'll see a Reset this PC header; click the Get started button underneath this to begin.
Can I format my corrupted hard disk drive?
Using an external hard drive is a good way to back up your computer's information. But if the external hard drive has been corrupted, it can't be used with your computer. One way to try to fix this problem is to reformat the drive and wipe it off any information. This will reset it to its initial factory settings.
So these were some of the best solutions to fix a USB flash drive that the Format Removable Tool cannot format. Remember that formatting the drive will remove all the data stored in the drive, so don’t forget to create a backup of the storage device before formatting it so that you can retain the crucial files from it.
Gravit Sinha: Founder of ValidEdge, a problem-solving website, driven by his lifelong passion for fixing issues.