7 Fixes: Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

Disk formatting is effective in cleaning out disc partition files. It is what we do most of the time when we’re emptying a hard drive or a portable disc. When formatting a detachable disk. Windows occasionally prompt us with the message “Windows was unable to complete the format,” as seen in the figure below.

message windows were unable to complete the format

In general, partition formatting in Windows is relatively straightforward and takes only a few seconds to finish. First, Right-click on the drive you wish to format, then pick “Format” from the drop-down menu. 

Please pay attention to this article since it explains the causes of “Windows was unable to complete the format.” It provides step-by-step solutions. It also explains how to restore data from USB drives that are unable to be formatted.

Source of Windows Unable to Complete Format Error

We want to discuss the various causes of the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error before moving on to the solutions. As a result, users may able to prevent encountering such an issue. Windows was unable to complete the format due to the following five factors:

1. The Drive Is Write Protected

  • Windows cannot format a write-protected drive
  • When a USB drive is attached to a computer, and you try to copy documents, notifications appear.
  • The notification states that the disk has a write protection feature.
  • To format the drive, you need to disable the write protection first
  • Formatting is a writing operation; write protection must be removed before formatting.

2. The Drive Has Bad Sectors

  • Storage devices are made up of sectors, the smallest unit of data storage
  • Discontinuous sectors are often occupied by files on hard drives or USB devices
  • Bad sectors are damaged and cannot be read or written
  • Bad sectors can cause issues with formatting and file recovery
  • Causes of bad sectors include poor quality, excessive defragmentation, and unplugging a USB device while it is still in use.

3. The Drive Is Physically Damaged

  • Physical damage to a USB device or local disk can make it inaccessible
  • If a chip or circuit board is not working, the computer won’t be able to use the device or format it
  • A professional repair center can replace damaged circuits and other parts to restore functionality
  • The replacement process can be more expensive than the USB drive itself.

4. Drive Suffers from Virus Infection

  • USB flash drives are small, portable, and used to backup or transfer data
  • USB drives are more likely to be destroyed or infected with viruses
  • They are frequently carried and used on multiple computers
  • When inserted into an unprotected computer, such as a public computer, they may become infected with a virus
  • The virus can fill the USB drive with hazardous data and cause it to stop working.

5. The Drive Is Empty

  • Physical damage to a USB device or local disk can make it inaccessible
  • A professional repair center can replace damaged circuits and other parts to restore functionality
  • The replacement process can be more expensive than the USB drive itself
  • A detachable disk may be viewed in Disk Management, and a formatting recommendation may be given
  • Unfortunately, Windows cannot complete the formatting as it is based on partitions rather than unallocated space.

Indicator of Windows was unable to complete the format error

When users try to format a partition of a USB drive, memory card, external HDD, or another device, they get the “Windows was unable to complete the format” problem after right-clicking it in Windows File Explorer.

This error prevents you from formatting the partition, Fixing a corrupted file system (RAW drive), and swiftly erasing everything. Changing the file system type (e.g., converting FAT32 to exFAT), and so on.

In general, partition formatting in Windows is relatively straightforward and takes only a few seconds to finish. First, Right-click on the drive you wish to format, then pick “Format” from the drop-down menu.

Then click “Start.” You’ll see a notice that says “Format complete” after the formatting is finished. However, Windows may fail to format your USB flash drive, memory SD card, or even hard drive on occasion.

How to fix “Windows couldn’t complete format” on a USB Flash drive?

If your USB drive can’t be adequately formatted and says, “Windows was unable to complete the format.” Don’t throw the flash drives away until you’ve tried the solutions listed below. However, please keep in mind that no solution will work if the USB drive is physically destroyed.

1. Format with Command Prompt

Check out the instructions below to see if you can get everything done.

  • Open the command prompt. Select the Start menu button and type cmd in the search window. If UAC is turned on, open Command Prompt from the Start menu and run it as an administrator.
Command Prompt
  • On the dark Window, type the command “diskpart” and hit Enter. 
  • Now type “list disk.” You may see the current computer’s partition and disk list. All of the drives are numbered, and the USB flash drive in question.
diskpart windows was unable to complete the format
  • Continue typing disk X, which is the hard drive, followed by clean and Enter. During the scanning process, the drive’s damaged file structure will be deleted.
  • Once the operation is complete, it displays a notification stating that the drive has been successfully cleaned and that a new partition must be formed.
  • Hit Enter after typing create a primary partition. Press Enter after typing “/FS:FAT32X:” in the Command prompt format. The USB flash drive letter is X, and you can alter it to suit your needs. 

The drive will be formatted on the FAT file system, a reasonably quick process.

2. Format via Disk Management

Disk Management is a feature of Windows that allows you to manage your computer’s partitions and disks. For example, disk Management can add new volumes, enlarge or reduce divisions, alter drive letters, delete or format cells, and so on. In addition, disk Management can format a damaged USB flash drive.

  • Right-click My Computer and choose “Manage,” then select Disk Management from the left-hand menu.
disk management storage device
  • The local hard disk and partitions and the USB drive that may be recognized by capacity are shown in the center section of the disk management window.
disk management format SD card
  • To do a rapid format, right-click the USB flash drive and select “Format,” then “File System Format.” However, in other circumstances, this step is not feasible.
select drive  you want to format
  • Select “New Simple Volume” from the context menu when you right-click on the USB drive. The New Simple Volume Wizard will appear, guiding you through creating a new partition for the USB flash drive.

3. Remove Write Protection

Write protection is a common problem with SD cards and USB drives. Therefore, a physical write-protection switch is included on memory cards and a USB flash drive. 

The drive is write-protected if the switch is set to the LOCK (ON) position. 

Users will not be able to format the drive or make any other changes in such a case. 

To deactivate write protection, ensure the switch is in the UNLOCK (OFF) position.

4. Check And Repair Errors For The Drive

Disk checking is another useful Windows feature that allows users to examine their drives for file system issues. To start a disk check on the drive, follow these steps:

  • Select Properties from the right-click menu of the partition that Windows cannot format.
cannot be formatted drive properties
  • Select the Tools tab and, under Error Checking, click the Check button. Then, select Scan and Repair Drive on the pop-up box and wait for the process to complete.
cannot be formatted drive properties
  • Users should not use the drive while Windows searches for and corrects any issues. Users need to restart their computers if this takes a long time.
repair bad sectors error message

5. The Drive Has No Partition 

Use any third party tool to create a new partition.

6. The Drive Has RAW File System

The term “Raw drive” refers to a hard disk or partition not being formatted with one of the given file systems: FAT16/FAT12/FAT32 or NTFS. Many factors can lead to a RAW disk, including virus infection, format failure, power interruptions, and an unrecognized file system, among others. You can reformat the detachable disk with the following techniques to fix the RAW file system.

Use Partition Wizard to Format

You can use the partition wizard to solve the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error.

MiniTool will open to its primary interface. 

  • The RAW drive is labeled as “Unformatted” in the middle panel. Select “Format Partition” from the drop-down menu after clicking on this partition.
drive or sd card cannot format
  • Confirm the Partition Label, File System, and Cluster Size in the new box that appears, then click “OK” to proceed.
Use Partition Wizard to Format
windows was unable to complete the format
  • The removable disk’s partition will be modified. To save the changes, click “Apply.”

7. Format the drive with DiskGenius Free Edition

DiskGenius is a free partition manager that performs many tasks related to disk partition management in Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP. You can format, create, delete, resize, hide, resize, extend, split, image, and clone partitions.

Also, partition hard drive, clone disk, permanently wipe disk/partition, check and repair bad sectors, and convert disks between MBR and GPT can be done.

In addition, manage UEFI boot entries, create WinPE bootable USB disk, and more with DiskGenius Free edition. In DiskGenius, here’s how to format a partition.

DiskGenius can also solve the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error.

DiskGenius Free edition is available for free download, installation, and use on your computer.

  • Select “Format Current Partition” from the context menu by right-clicking on the partition to be formatted, as seen below:
windows was unable to complete the format
  • Click the Format button after selecting a file system type from the drop-down box.
windows unable to format
  • You can complete the format partition with DiskGenius to NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, EXT4, EXT3, and EXT2 file systems, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
format fs ntfs error windows was unable

When the software asks if you want to confirm the procedure, select Yes.

How Do I Restore lost files when “Windows was unable to complete the format” on USB Flash Drive, SD card, and hard drive?

When a USB drive, SD card, hard drive, or pen drive is inaccessible, how can you restore data? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a partition to become RAW before we can back up its files.

But don’t worry; recovering deleted files isn’t difficult. You may use DiskGenius to recover RAW partitions, files from formatted/unformatted, deleted files, and lost partitions, among other things.

Select the partition containing the lost files, then click File Recovery and then Start. Following that, DiskGenius begins looking for lost data. Wait for the scanning process to finish.

Preview files to see if they can be recovered.

File preview is available during and after scanning, and it aids in determining whether or not lost files may be successfully recovered. Lost files may have been destroyed due to data loss, so you should evaluate them to ensure they are not corrupted.

To finish the recovery, copy the files to another partition: Right-click on the data and select Copy To from the drop-down menu.

Meet the Author

Abdul Rahim has been working in Information Technology for over two decades. Learn how Abdul got his start as a Tech Blogger , and why he decided to start this Software blog. If you want to send Abdul a quick message, then visit his contact page here.