Solved: Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format Error

Sometimes when you insert a USB Drive Into your system you may see that the drive is not being recognized. In the explorer window, the drive is shown but without showing total memory and free memory and if you try to format it, it shows the error “Windows was unable to complete the format”. Or Error messages saying Windows couldn’t format the drive. If you also have a similar kind of problem with your SD card or external hard drive or USB flash drive, then keep reading. I am going to demonstrate a method to fix corrupted storage devices. The windows were unable to format the disk because it has no specific file system (e.g. NTFS, FAT) associated with it. This drive is called RAW drive and it can be repaired by formatting the disk.

This error may happen as a result of the following reasons:

  • 1. Storage devices have bad sectors
  • 2. Storage device damage
  • 3. Disk is write-protected
  • 4. Virus infection

Format The Drive Using Disk Management

Disk Management is provided by Windows and it helps to manage partitions and disks for computers. Disk Management is able to create a new volume, extend or shrink the partition, change drive letter, delete or format partition, etc. Damaged flash drives can be formatted within Disk Management. If a USB drive uses an unrecognized file system format or becomes unallocated or uninitialized, it will not show in My Computer or Windows Explorer. Thus it’s not available to format the drive-through right-click menu “Format” option.

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  • Click Start and go to Control Panel.
  • Click Administrative Tools and then click Computer Management
  • When that window opens you can click on Disk Management and find the device in the drive viewer.
  • Then you can right-click on the drive and select Format and see if using this utility from the Disk Management helps resolve your issue.

However, this action is not workable in some cases, and you need to select the “New Simple Volume” item. You’ll get the New Simple Volume Wizard which guides you to recreate a new partition for the flash drive. Operations are following the onscreen instructions, setting options, and click the “Next” button. When the process is done, you’ll find the USB drive has been formatted and is properly recognized by the system.

Format The Drive with Command Prompt

Disk Management is not almighty and it is not helpful in many cases. Thus we need to switch to a command line-based formatting solution. It looks like this method is complicated for common users, but it is not. Follow the steps below and see whether it can get everything done.

Open the command prompt as administrator and perform the following commands one by one.

-list disk
-select disk ‘your disk number’
-create partition primary
-select partition 1
-format fs=NTFS

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Commands Performed with an explanation

Now on Command prompt window Type command diskpart and press Enter key.

Next Type command list volume and press enter key. Then you can see the partition and disk list of the current computer. All drives are listed with numbers and Disk 4 is the flash drive in question.

Continue typing disk 4 which is the problem drive and clean and press Enter. The drive will be scanned and its damaged file structure will be erased during scanning. Once the process is done, it reports a confirmation message telling that it has successfully cleaned the drive, and a new partition needs to be created.

Type create a primary partition and hit Enter; next type in Command prompt format /FS: NTFS G: (you can copy and paste it.) and press Enter. Here G is the drive letter of the USB drive, and you can change it in line with specific cases. The drive will be formatted to the NTFS file system and the formatting is very fast.

When the format completes (100%), close the command prompt window and go to Computer in order to check the drive. Verify your drive by copying some data in it.

By this method, you can repair your corrupted SD cards, USB flash drives, and even your External hard drives. Again, after performing the above steps you will lose all your previous data. So, if you have some important data in your drive, try to recover it first using hard drive recovery software. Here is the summary of all the above-performed operations in order:

HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool

Very similar in terms of looks with the standard Windows format screen, HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool is an easy-to-use yet powerful application that can easily deal with any issue that you might experience when trying to format a USB drive.

There’s nothing too complicated about it, and both beginners and those more experienced should be able to figure out the purpose of each option, so you should be able to use it right away after downloading the official package.

Simply select the USB drive, choose the desired file system (NTFS for drives that are larger than 4GB) and you’re good to go.

Note: again, do not use the “Quick Format” option! It might take a while in the full mode, but it’s safer and more effective.

Disable Write Protection in Registry

  • Press Windows Key + R type regedit and ok to open the windows registry editor.
  • Backup registry database, then navigate following registry key


Note: If you can’t locate the StorageDevicePolicies key then you need to select the Control key then right-click on it and select New > Key. Name the key as StorageDevicePolicies.

  • Find the registry key WriteProtect under StorageDevicePolicies.

Note: If you are not able to find the above DWORD then you need to create one. Select StorageDevicePolicies key then right-click on it and select New > DWORD (32-bit) value. Name the key as WriteProtect.

  • Double click the WriteProtect key and set its value to 0 in order to disable Write Protection.
  • Reboot your PC to save changes.
  • Again try to format your device and see if you’re able to Fix Windows was unable to complete the format error.

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