6 Best Ways How to Fix Windows was Unable to Complete the Format

“When I connected my USB drive to my laptop, Windows asked me to format it. I tried as usual but I got an error message. I tried to format the drive to FAT32 but still got the same message. The error states Windows was unable to complete the format. How do I fix this?”

Formatting the SD cards, SSDs, external hard drives, USB drives are simple tasks on Windows. It is a quick process consisting of a single click and a confirmation message. Ordinarily, there shouldn’t be an issue with this, users even can change the storage format when restoring it to full capacity. But sometimes users fail to restore the drives after getting it, Windows was unable to complete the format.

While this is a troubling error on Windows, it’s a recurring one. A lot of moving factors can potentially be involved, causing this error. While you may fail to detect an actual cause pulling the strings from behind, you can use our easy-fix guide to fix this problem with ease.  

What are The Causes of Windows was Unable to Complete Format Error?

While it is not possible to determine the causes of individual cases, we can at least, provide a list of causes that are capable of preventing Windows from formatting. 

  • Physically Damaged 

If the USB or the SD card you are trying to format is physically damaged, then it could be the reason behind this error. the warranty is still valid, we recommend taking it to the shop where you made the purchase or take it for repair. If it is too damaged, then opt for a new device. It would be the better choice.   

  • Virus or Malware Infestation 

A virus or malware infection can also mimic this issue. If the storage device is infected, the virus has to be removed from the device. And only then it can be formatted.

  • Bad Sectors on USB/SD card

Regular users have no idea about bed sectors on a storage device. If a storage device contains multiple bad sectors, then Windows won’t be able to format the storage device. It doesn’t have the right tools for it. You have to fix the bad sectors before you can format the device. 

  • File System Error 

If the storage device is displayed as RAW or displayed as some unknown form of a file system that is not supported on Windows, then it can’t be formatted on Windows. You need to get your hands on professional-grade 3rd party formatting tools.  

  • Write Protected 

If you have enabled write protection on the said storage device, then Windows won’t be able to format it. You have to remove the protection and only then you will be able to format the device.  

6 Easy Fixes for Windows was Unable to Complete the Format Error Solution

Windows was unable to complete the format

The Windows was unable to complete the format is a very diverse error. Not only this error can appear for a different set of reasons, but each potential reason is also surrounded by very particular scenarios.   

We have listed 6 easy fixes but it is you who have to choose the fix that fits your situation the most. 

1. Clear Virus 

First, check for viruses. A few malware has the capability to lockout storage drives making it impossible for Windows to format. The only way out of this situation starts with the removal of the malware. 

So, connect the storage device to the computer and install a capable antivirus program. Use the antivirus to scan for malware and clear the drive. After the final scan shows the drive to be free of any malware, you should be able to format.  

2. Diskpart Command 

If the virus wasn’t the problem, then your storage device may be facing other issues. You can employ Diskpart to get rid of them. Now, using Diskpart isn’t easy. It is completely command-based. So, read the steps carefully. 

Step1: Open Command Prompt and type diskpart. Hit Enter

Step2: Now, type the following commands and hit Enter after each. 

list disk 

select disk 2 (Replace 2 with the disk number on your computer)

list volume

select volume 10 (Replace with actual the actual disk number)

format fs=ntfs quick (If you want the drive to be formatted into other file systems, then replace NTFS with FAT32, exFAT, or others) 

After executing these commands, Doskpart will have successfully executed the format. Now, type Exit to close the window.

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3. Disk Management 

If you are getting Windows was unable to complete the format error due to the RAW system file, then you can try using Windows Disk Management for formatting the drive. 

Step1: Make a right-click on This PC and select Manage

Step2: Click on Disk Management

Step3: Now, you have to locate the storage device you want to format and select Format. 

Step4: Choose the file system between NTFS and FAT32

Step5: Tick the box beside Quick Format and click OK to confirm your choices. 

This should do the trick and successfully format the target storage drive. 

4. Remove Write Protection and Format the Drive 

This fix is only applicable if you have enabled write protection on the drive. Enabling such a feature will prevent Windows from formatting the drive. So, you have to disable the said feature to make the drive formattable. 

Step1: Hit Windows +R on your keyboard to bring up the Run dialog box. 

Step2: Type, diskpart and hit Enter. You also have to confirm the appeared UAC message. A Command Prompt interface will appear.  

Step3: Now, type list disk and hit Enter. A list of disks will appear on the screen and you have to identify the removable storage drive.

Step4: So, choose the disk and make the changes.  

Step5: Once it is confirmed that have selected the right disk, type attributes disk. The attributes of the said disk will be revealed. If you notice Yes beside Current Read-Only State, then the disk has the write protection feature enabled. 

Step6: Now, you have to disable this feature. So, type attributes disk clear readonly

A message will immediately appear on the screen stating that the attributes were disabled successfully. Now, type Exit to close the Command Prompt. 

5. Repair Bad Sectors and Format the Drive 

Another reason behind Windows was unable to complete the format error could be multiple bad sectors in the storage device. So, fixing the bad sector is the best way to proceed here.

Bad sectors can be fixed in 2 ways. You can employ a 3rd party tool of use CMD. If you want to go with 3rd party tool, that is your choice but CMD is equally capable.  

Step1: Click on the Windows button and search for Command Prompt. 

Step2: Make a right-click on the Command Prompt option and select Run As Administrator from the drop menu. 

Step3: The CMD window will appear on the screen. Type, chkdsk E: /f /r /x and hit Enter to execute. E is the drive letter for the storage device you are trying to fix. So, you have to replace it with the actual drive letter on your computer. 

After executing the command, CMD should fix the bad sector immediately. After the CMD window is closed, try to format the drive. You shouldn’t be getting the error anymore. 

6. Use 3rd Party Formatting Tools 

If you are still getting, Windows was unable to complete the format while trying to format the storage drive, then opt for a 3rd party professional formatting tool. 

These types of tools are very powerful and they use a completely different type of procedure for formatting compared to conventional operating systems like Windows. You may have better luck. 

Signing Off 

The Windows was unable to complete the format is without a doubt one of the most common errors faced by Windows users. Almost every user has faced at least once. But once this error appears on the screen the most likely action by the users is to throw away the drive and get a new one.

We suggest our readers be a bit patient. Indeed, the terms like Disk Management or Diskpart are not really the forte of regular Windows users. We tried our best to layout the detail as simply as possible. So, give it a try. Otherwise, you may well be wasting a perfectly good storage device.

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