In this post, you will get to know the reasons that lead to ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error and learn the best ways using which all Windows users will be able to fix this issue for their USB drives and SD cards. So just read this post till the end and format your external drives easily.
Before moving further to find out the fixes of this issue, let’s have a look at the reasons that cause Windows can’t format USB drives, memory cards, hard drive,s and other data storage devices.
Causes Behind Windows Can’t Format USB Drive, Memory Cards, Hard Drive
There are numerous causes of this issue, some of them are mentioned here below. Let’s have a look one by one –
- Virus Infection: This is one of the prime reasons that can easily corrupt any data storage device. If your data storage device is corrupted or infected with a virus then it will corrupt the data stored within it and you may not be able to perform many tasks such as reading data or formatting.
- Bad Sector Present in Storage Devices: Storage devices have small sectors that are the smallest unit for storing data. Bad sectors mean that sector is damaged and the read and write process can not be done. So, the availability of a bad sector can be one of the reasons that do not allow Windows to format the drive.
- Data Storage Device Damage: Another reason is physical damage that makes the data stored within the storage device inaccessible. The computer may not be able to format the storage device if it can’t use the device because it is damaged physically such as a circuit board or chip is not working, etc.
- Storage Devices is Write-Protected: If your storage device is write-protected, you may get an error message “The disk is write-protected. Remove the write-protection or use another disk.”, while you try to transfer files from it. You must know that formatting is a kind of writing operation and therefore you have to remove write protection from your SD card.
So, these are some common reasons that do not allow Windows to format the storage device. Fortunately, there are few solutions that will help you to resolve “Windows was unable to complete the format” error.
Fix “Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format” Error On SD Card & USB Drive
When you are not able to format your storage devices like memory card, USB drive, pen drive, SD card using the normal process, then you must try the below-mentioned solution to fix this problem.
#1: Format Via Disk Management
The first method that you can try to fix ‘Windows was unable to complete the format SD card‘ error by using Disk Management utility.
Here are the easy steps by following which you can format the device using Disk Management.
- At first, connect your storage device that you need to format with your system.
- Make right-tap “This PC” >> click on “Manage” >> select the “Disk Management“.
- Find & right-click the external storage device >> select the “Format“.
- Here, you need to set a file system (FAT32 or NTFS) of the hard drive >> tick on “Quick Format” >> click the “OK” option to proceed.
However, if there is any partition on the drive, then you have to delete the partition before you follow this process.
#2: Use The Diskpart To Fix Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format
Another solution that you can try to troubleshoot Windows was unable to complete the format USB is to use the Diskpart command line.
Follow the below-given steps to format the memory card with Diskpart:
Step 1: Just right-click on the Windows icon
Step 2: In the search box, type the command prompt
Step 3: Then, right-click the Command Prompt >> select the “Run as an administrator“.
Step 4: Now, type the diskpart in a Command Prompt & hit the Enter.
Step 5: At this time, type the beneath command lines one after another in DiskPart and hit Enter after each command
- list disk
- select disk 2 (you need to replace the 2 number with the disk number)
- list volume
- select volume 10 (you have to replace 10 number with a volume number)
- format fs=ntfs quick (suppose if you want to format your storage device in exFAT or FAT32 then replace the NTFS with exFAT, FAT32, etc.)
Step 6: At last, type the exit >> hit the Enter in order to close a program once DiskPart reports that formatted process of the volume is over.
#3: Format In A Safe Mode And Fix ‘Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format’ Issue
If the above two approaches don’t help you, try to format the memory card or USB drive in a Safe Mode.
In order to boot the PC in a Safe Mode, just follow these steps:
Step 1: Simply tap on a Start menu and then go to the Settings
Step 2: Choose the Update and Security option >> Recovery.
Step 3: Next, go to the Advanced Startup and then tap on Restart Now
Step 4: Now the computer will restart in order to open the screen Choose an option
Step 5: Tap on Troubleshoot and then Advanced Options
Step 6: In the sixth step, you have to tap on Startup Settings then Restart
Step 7: When your system restarts, press the ‘F4’ button to begin your computer in a Safe Mode.
Once your PC started in a Safe Mode, try the same steps and format your storage device again.
#4: Check & Fix The Disk Errors
In this solution, I’ll guide you on how to fix Windows was unable to complete the format USB flash drive using a Disk checking utility.
Let’s try out these instructions:
- At first, open the File Explorer and then connect your storage drive to a computer
- Next, right-click a problematic device >> select the “Properties“.
- In a Tools tab, you need to click an “Error-checking” >> then Check.
- After that, select the Scan drive if issues are found. Here, you need to wait until the process gets finished.
- Lastly, right-click the device & finish a format by using File Explorer.
#5: Remove Write Protection
Sometimes, the Windows system can show the error “Windows was unable to complete the format” if it is write-protected.
There are some memory cards and thumb drives that have a write-protect switch. You need to first check whether it has that switch and if so then ensure that it is unlocked.
The first thing you can do to remove write protection using the Windows system is:
- You need to first click on “Start” button and then type gpedit.msc in the search box and then press “Enter” key.
- You need to then select “Administrative Templates” under the section ‘Computer Configuration’ and then click ‘System’.
- Here, you have to choose Removable Storage Access.
- Now, find Removable Disks: Deny write access in the appeared list.
- Next you have to select “Disabled” from the three specified options.
- Next, you have to click on the button “Apply” and then reboot the Windows system.
NOTE: When your system reboots with the new parameters, simply try to format your device.
#6: Clear Virus & Complete A Formatting
If your memory card, hard drive, and USB flash drive get infected by malware or virus and won’t able to format the drive then running the antivirus software storage devices can help you.
Here is how you can run the antivirus software:
Step 1: Attach your storage device such as SD cards or USB flash drive to your Windows system.
Step 2: In the second step, you need to run the Antivirus tool on your computer, choose a target drive to clear an existing malware or virus.
Step 3: Now, try to format the device by using Disk Management, Windows File Explorer, Diskpart, or other formatting tools.
#7: Repair the Bad Sector Which Disallows You to Format the Storage Device
Most of the time, it happens that bad sectors present on the storage device prevent from formatting it.
So, in such a situation, you need to repair and recover the SD card with bad sectors or another device by running the CMD command:
Try the below steps and then run the chkdsk command prompt to fix Windows was unable to complete the format USB drive easily.
# Run The CHKDSK To Solve Bad Sectors
- First of all, in a search box, you have to type cmd.
- Next, right-click the “Command Prompt >> choose the “Run as an administrator“.
- After this, type the chkdsk E: /f /r /x & hit the Enter. (Simply replace the E with your storage device’s drive letter).
# Format The Storage Media To Use It Again
- First, open a File Explorer, then locate & right-click the faulty hard drive.
- Choose the “Format” >> reset a file system as a FAT32 or NTFS
- Now, tick the box “Quick Format” >> click “Start“.
Recover Data From Storage Media After Formatting It
After you finish formatting your faulty storage media all your data stored within it will be lost. Though, if you have backup then you can restore those stuff from there.
With the help of External Storage Data Recovery software, you can:
- Restore media files from data storage devices that can’t be formatted due to the “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” error.
- Recover deleted, lost, formatted, virus-infected media files like photos, videos, and audio files from memory cards, hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives.
- Read-only program, 100% clean, safe & easy to use.
You need to only download and install this program on your Windows and Mac OS and follow its step-by-step guide. Doing so will help you to recover data from formatted hard drives easily.
Why Can't I Format My Flash Drive?
There are countless reasons that can lead to unable to format the flash drive. Some of the major causes are here and any of these reasons could be responsible for can’t format the flash drive. • Virus infection • Due to bad sectors present on the flash drive • Physically damage flash drive • Incompatible issues • When the drive is write-protected, etc.
How Do You Fix Windows Cannot Complete The Format?
In order to fix Windows cannot complete the format, you can use the Disk Management utility or Diskpart. Note: In the above section of this post, you will get the step-by-step guide of Disk Management and Diskpart.
How Do I Force A Hard Drive To Format Windows 10?
You can format a hard drive to format Windows 10 using the Disk Management, try the beneath steps: 1. Firstly, connect your hard drive to your PC 2. Then, right-click a Start button >> select the Disk Management 3. There, choose the hard drive that you need to format >> make a right tap on it 4. Now, select the Format.
So, these are the top 7 solutions that will help you to fix Windows Unable to Complete the Format problem. If you get any not formatted errors on your USB hard drive or memory card then these solutions will work on that too.
You can try these solutions one after another or all of them to check which solutions work for you.
I am sure these solutions will resolve Windows’s unable to format the drive issue completely.
Taposhi is an expert technical writer with 5+ years of experience. Her in-depth knowledge about data recovery and fascination to explore new DIY tools & technologies have helped many. She has a great interest in photography and loves to share photography tips and tricks with others.