7 Ways to Overcome Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

7 Ways to Overcome Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

7 Ways to Overcome Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

Have you tried formatting the flash drive and see the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error? You may find it annoying, as this leaves you with an unusable device.

Did you see this format error with a flashdisk, micro SD, SD card, or something similar, don't worry! Because We will show you how to fix Windows was unable to complete the format error.

Recommendation: Best Free Disk Drive Format Tool – EaseUS Partition Master

How to Format a Flashdisk in Windows?

To make sure we start on the same page, let's quickly review how to format a flash drive in Windows 10. Keep in mind that this process will delete all files currently on your flash drive!

Open a File Explorer window and browse to This PC to see all the drives connected to your computer. On that page, find your flash drive, right click and select Format.

This will bring up the basic Windows format menu. If you are not sure which option to select press the Restore device defaults button to use the included device. Click Start to format the flash drive.

Format USB Drives

If when you try this several times and keep getting the message "Windows was unable to complete the format", then proceed to the steps on how to fix it.

1. Try Formatting Through Disk Management

For advanced disk needs, Windows provides the Disk Management tool, which has more options than This PC. So, it should be your first pick when standard formats don't work.

Press Win + X or right-click on the Start button to open a list of shortcuts, then click Disk Management to access them. You'll see a list of the volumes attached to your computer at the top, as well as a visual representation of them at the bottom.

Disk Management

If you see RAW next to drive size at the bottom (and under File System on the top panel), this means Windows doesn't recognize the drive's file system. In some cases, it indicates that the drive is formatted with a macOS or Linux file system that Windows can't use.

Right click on your USB drive (make sure you select the right one) and select Format. You will see an interface similar to the one you used before. Select Volume label , specify File system (FAT32 is best for smaller devices or devices you plan to use across platforms) and leave Allocation unit size as Default .

Formatting Through Disk Management

If you leave Perform a quick format checked, Windows will not check for bad sectors on the disk. We'll cover this in a later troubleshooting step, but you can feel free to uncheck it now and see if Windows catches any issues. Keep in mind that it may take longer to complete.

Delete And Recreate Volume

If this fails, you can try the Delete Volume option in the drive's right-click menu. Deleting the volume will delete everything Windows has assigned to the disk, leaving only unallocated space.

Therefore, you need to create a new volume by right-clicking, selecting New Simple Volume, and following the steps (which are similar to other formatting methods).

Delete And Recreate Volume

2. Remove Write Protection On Drive

Write Protection, as the name suggests, prevents any system from adding new data to the drive. The most common reason for this is a physical switch on the drive itself, especially with SD cards. Look at your drives and make sure all the sliders or switches are not locked or read only.

Remove Write Protection On Drive

After checking this, you should also remove the write protection software on your drive. To do this, press Win + R to open the Run dialog and enter diskpart. Confirm the UAC prompt that appears, then you will see the Command Prompt interface.

Enter list disk and press Enter. You will see a list of disks and should be able to identify the USB flash drive by size. Enter select disk X to make changes to the proper device.

Once you see confirmation that you have selected the correct disk, enter disk attributes to view the information. If you see Yes next to Current Read-only State, then the disk has write protection.

Windows diskpart

To remove this, enter the disk attribute clear readonly. Windows then displays a message that the attribute was successfully deleted, enter the exit command to exit the window. Now that there is no write protection, try formatting your disk again.

3. Use SD Memory Card Formatter

If you can't format your SD card in Windows, the fix might be using a utility instead of Windows tools. The SD Association recommends using the SD Memory Card Formatter, not the one provided by your operating system. Download the tool if you're specifically having trouble with your SD card.

This tool is simple and looks similar to the options you tried above. Make sure you select the right card in the dropdown menu at the top. Use the Overwrite format to delete the contents of the current card for best results and name it in the Volume label field.

SD Card Formatter

4. Scan the Drive for Errors

Sometimes, you will experience format errors because the drive has bad sectors or similar issues. At this point, it's a good idea to check the drive to see if there's anything wrong with it.

To do this, open This PC again. Right click on the Flashdisk and select Properties. In the resulting menu, switch to the Tools tab and click the Check button under Error checking. Select Repair drive to run a scan of the drive, then wait for it to finish and try again.

Scan For Errors

5. Use the Third-Party Formatting Tool

If you still can't format your disk, a third-party tool can solve your problem. Often, such tools use a different formatting method than Windows, and can bypass any issues Windows has with your disk. You can download and install a third-party formatting tool like Paragon Partition Manager, this is an application that has been around for years and has won several awards.

6. Scan for Malware

While it's most likely not the cause of your problem, it's worth running a malware scan if you still can't format the drive. Some malware can interfere with normal operating system files, including formatting drives. We recommend running a scan with the free version of Malwarebytes and seeing if it finds any infections. Then try the format again.

7. Try Formatting on Another OS

Try Formatting On Another OS

Before you give up on an unformatted drive, there is one more way you can try to solve the problem. If you have access to a machine running macOS or Linux, try using those operating systems to format your external drive.

Even if you have to reformat the drive again for use with Windows, it's good to know if the problem is with your hardware or Windows. If your drive format is fine on Mac or Linux, then there is some problem going on with your Windows operating system.


So those are some ways to overcome Windows was unable to complete the format error. If you have done all of the steps above and are still getting format errors, then your drive is probably dead. Unfortunately, flash drives and SD cards have a limited number of uses, cheap or old drives are more prone to failure. This also happens if your drive has physical damage.

Also, read the article about 7 Ways to Overcome Word Cannot Complete The Save Due To A File Permission Error in Windows. And see you in another article. Bye
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