Sometimes when you perform a formatting function on any storage device like pen drive, USB flash drive, memory card, hard disk drive etc. On our Windows computer, you receive an alert message saying, “Windows was unable to complete the format”.
After the occurrence of this error, you usually think of throwing the device, but instead, you can try some solutions that might fix this error. This article will tell you about the probable causes and the step-by-step solutions to this error” Windows was unable to complete the format”.
The cause of the Error “Windows was unable to complete the format”
This error may occur when you try to format USB flash drive or SD card. The reason for this error can be following:
- Infected by Virus:
The main advantage of USB drive is that they are portable and are easy to connect with a computer. Considering that these devices are carried by the user and used on various other devices, these USB drives are very likely to get infected by a virus.
When you plug the USB drive into a USB port on a computer that is not protected by any antivirus software, for example, public computers, your USB drive is most likely to get infected by a virus and this virus might fill your USB drive with malicious files and make the USB drive stop working. This might result in an error that Windows was unable to complete the format SD card or USB drive.
When you plug the USB drive into a USB port on a computer that is not protected by any antivirus software, for example, public computers, your USB drive is most likely to get infected by a virus and this virus might fill your USB drive with malicious files and make the USB drive stop working.
This might result in an error that Windows was unable to complete the format SD card or USB drive.
- Bad sectors of Storage devices:
As it is generally known that storage devices consist of sectors which are the smallest unit for storing the data. Usually, the data stored on USB drive or hard drive occupies discontinuous sectors. A bad sector means that that particular sector has been damaged and it can’t be read from or written into. These bad sectors interrupt the formatting operation of the drive as well as the file recovery. The possible reasons for the cause of bad sector can be poor quality, enormous defragmentation, unplugging USB drive while it is processing etc. All this can lead to the error that Windows was unable to complete the format external hard drive or USB drive.
These bad sectors interrupt the formatting operation of the drive as well as the file recovery. The possible reasons for the cause of bad sector can be poor quality, enormous defragmentation, unplugging USB drive while it is processing etc. All this can lead to the error that Windows was unable to complete the format external hard drive or USB drive.
- Damaged storage device:
Another possible reason that can generate the error Windows was unable to complete the format is physical damage. It is not necessary that the storage drive such as a USB drive or a hard disk may escape the physical damage. The computer will be unable to format the drive if its chip is damaged or the circuit board does not work. While the damaged part can be repaired at professional work centers, but the cost of the repair can be costlier than the drive itself.
The computer will be unable to format the drive if its chip is damaged or the circuit board does not work. While the damaged part can be repaired at professional work centers, but the cost of the repair can be costlier than the drive itself.
- The device is write-protected:
One another reason for the display of the error message that Windows was unable to complete the format hard disk drive is that the drive might be write protected.
Windows cannot format a drive which is write-protected. Since formatting is a kind of writing operation, you need to remove the write-protection before you can format the drive.
Solution of the error Windows was unable to complete the format:
If you are unable to format your storage drive ( USB flash drive, pen drive, SD card, external hard drive etc.) by the conventional procedure then you can try formatting your drive by following the step-by-step guide given below.
However, you should keep in mind that it is not necessary that all these solutions will work for sure because any physically damaged drive cannot be repaired using these procedures.
Also, make sure that all the important data has been backed up before the format as the data will get permanently deleted after the drive gets formatted.
In case your drive became inaccessible before backing up of the data then you can follow the file recovery measure which will be given later on.
So, here are the solutions:
- Formatting the drive using Disk Management:
Disk management helps in managing the partitions and disks for a computer and is provided by Windows system. Disk management can perform functions like creating a new volume, extending or shrinking the partition, changing drive letters, deleting or formatting a partition etc.
Thus, Disk Management can be used to format the damaged flash drives. Here is a step-by-step guide to format using Disk Management:
- Right click on “My Computer”.
- Select item “Manage”.
- Click “Disk Management” on the left-hand You will now be able to see local hard drive and partitions and USB drives which are recognized by capacity.
- Right, click on the drive you wish to format and select “Format”. This option might not work for some cases and you need to proceed to the next step.
- Right click on the drive you wish to format and select “New Simple Volume” item. You will now get a New Simple Volume Wizard which will guide you for recreating new partition for the drive.
- Follow the onscreen instructions that will be given to you. Click “Next” button.
After the completion of the process, you will find that your desired drive has been formatted successfully.
- Formatting using Command Prompt:
If the above mentioned Disk Management process doesn’t work you may switch over to formatting based on command line. This method may look complicated at first but it is not so.
Follow the given steps for formatting using Command Prompt:
- If you are a Windows 7 user, click on START button and type cmd in the search panel and press ENTER. A black command prompt window will appear on your screen.
- Type command disk part on the black screen and press ENTER. After this, you will be able to see the list of all the disks and their partitions of the current computer. All the drives will be listed along with Disk 4 will be the flash drive in need.
- Type disk 4 which is the required drive and clean and press ENTER. The drive will go through a scanning process and the damaged file structure of the drive will be erased during scanning. It will report a confirmation message acknowledging that the drive has been successfully cleaned and that a new partition needs to be created.
- Type create a primary partition and click ENTER.
- Now type format/FS: FAT32J: in the command prompt and press ENTER. Here, J depicts the drive letter of the USB drive and you can change it according to you. The drive will be formatted using the FAT file system.
- Using PartitionGuru:
If the above two methods don’t work properly then you can fix the problem using a third party tool PartitionGuru. It is an efficient partition manager, file recovery, and disk tool. It can check for bad sectors in local and USB drives and repair them, format partition, recover formatted data etc.
- Run PartitionGuru. Observe its main interface that lists the detailed information of the internal and the external drives along with their partitions.
- Click on the USB drive concerned and menu “Disk”.
- Select “Verify Or Repair Bad Sectors”.
- This will display a cylindrical chart having colored blocks specifying good, severe, damaged etc. When the checking of bad sector gets completed, it will display the number of bad sectors it found. Now, click “Repair” for the repairing of the bad sectors.
- Now select the USB drive concerned and click ”Format” button to format the drive.
File recovery of the data from USB drive that cannot be formatted:
These problems generally occur with those who work with USB drives often and it might result in losing of all files and data. However, you can recover the lost data from your drive provided that your drive is not completely dead.
Along with checking and repairing bad sectors, PartitionGuru also helps in recovering the lost files which were deleted, formatted, reformatted or corrupted from local or USB drives. Since file recovery process is a read-only process; it does not harm the original data and storage. Here is how you can recover the data:
- Connect the USB drive and run PartitionGuru.
- Open your drive that is listed on the interface of the PartitionGuru.
- Click “File Recovery”
- Select “Complete Recovery”.
- Select the box “Search for Known File Types” on the Recover Files window. This will start the file scanning and will show you the files that it is scanning.
- You can now select and save the desired files to your desired location.
Also Check: How To Create Bootable Pendrive
I hope that one of the above-mentioned methods would have helped you to recover from the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error. If then also your problem doesn’t get solved, then there are chances that your USB drives are permanently damaged.