How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

Are you receiving “Windows was unable to format removable disk” error? However, they are solutions to this as explained in the article below. 

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

Wanting to format your SD card, USB drive, or external hard drive is a good move. But what if you encounter an error that says “Windows was unable to complete the format” along the way?

Getting this error message can cause you to panic. That, or it might make you want to pass up the task. But don’t panic. Finding a way to fix the problem is easy-peasy!

In this article, we’ll learn what to do. This way, you won’t feel discouraged whenever you want to format your drive.

How to Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

Method 1: Format with Disk Management

Disk Management is a Windows built in utility that allows you to manage partitions and disks. If your USB drive or SD card is not displayed in File Explorer because it has an unrecognized file system or no file system at all, you can find it in Disk Management.

Thus, you can format the drive with the supported file system.

1. Open Disk Management. Right click on Start and select “Disk Management”. You can also open it by type “diskmgmt.msc” in the Run box.

2. Right click the drive need formatting and select “Format”.

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

3. In the next screen, select a file system format and click “OK” to start the format.

If the drive is shown as unallocated space without any file system, right click on it and select “New Simple Volume” item. Then you can follow the New Simple Volume Wizard to create a new partition for the flash drive.

Method 2: Format with Diskpart

Diskpart is also a built in utility that helps you to manage your disks and partitions from the command line. Compared with Disk Management, Diskpart gives you more authorities.


To open Diskpart, you can type “diskpart.exe” in the Run box or run “diskpart” command in an elevated command prompt. Within the Diskpart command utility, you can format a drive with the following commands:

  • list disk
  • select disk n (n represents the disk number listed that you want to format)
  • clean (this command will delete all the data on the selected disk)
  • create partition primary
  • format fs=fat32 quick
  • assign letter X: (X: represent the drive letter for the USB drive, you can change it based on your needs)

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

Then the drive will be deleted and reformatted with FAT32 file system. If you want NTFS file system, you can change and use the command: “format fs=ntfs”.

Method 3: Force Format Drive with Free Partition Manager

If you are still unable to format it. You can try to use a free partition manager: AOMEI Partition Assistant.

It provides many useful features regarding partition and disk management, such as wipe partition, resize partition, clone partition, merge partition, move partition, convert disks between MBR and GPT without deleting partitions, and convert FAT32 and NTFS without reformatting and more.

If the format failed because of bad sectors, AOMEI Partition Assistant will fix the bad sectors and format the drive for you.

1. Free download the software, install and launch it.

Download Freeware – Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP

2. In the main interface, right click on the drive, in the drop-down menu, select “Check Partition” under “Advanced” option.

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

3. In the next screen, check the first option “Check partition and fix errors in this partition by using chkds.exe” and click “OK” to continue.

READ: What to do when your Hard Drive doesn’t Show 2020 Latest Update

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

After you check and fix the possible errors on the hard drive that Windows unable to format, you can right click the USB drive in the main interface of AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, and select “Format Partition” option to force format the flash drive.

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

If this is still unable to complete the format, try the “Wipe Hard Drive” option in this freeware to delete all partitions on the hard drive and then create a new partition.

If you want to enjoy more advanced features, like recovering lost partitions, erasing SSD drive, migrating OS between MBR and GPT disk, you can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.

How Do I Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

Bottom Line

Generally, the USB drive or SD card should be formatted as you desired by using the steps above.

However, if Windows was unable to complete the format still with those solutions, it is most likely the USB drive has some physical damage that prevents you accessing it.

You can bring it to a repair center to see if people from there can make it workable again by replacing damaged circuit or other damaged parts.

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