(Fixed) “Windows was unable to complete the format” Error


We have the cognition that when an SD card / USB / hard drive gets corrupted, formatting is the best solution. That’s what most of the tutorials say to do so. Mind you, while attempting such moves can cause a “Windows was unable to complete the format” error while formatting your external hardware. The error simply indicates that Windows operating system is unable to format your external hard drive due to some valid reasons.

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

The error can encounter when the write protection is enabled or due to bad sectors. If that’s the case, Windows will unable to format your external hardware showing you the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error. But don’t you worry as we got you all covered up. Just follow the troubleshooting methods that we have managed to provide you. So make sure to create a backup of the data as the process includes formatting the external hard drive.

Without further ado, let’s quickly begin.

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What causes the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error?

Following are possible causes of the error:

  • Write protection is enabled
  • Due to bad sectors
  • Physical damaged
  • The external storage turned RAW (file system is corrupted)
  • The drive might be formatted in the file system that Windows os can’t support
  • Virus attacks deleted file system

Method 1: Disable the write-protection

Mind you, if the write-protect, Windows consider your SD card or USB as a read-only memory state. It means you cannot make changes or neither can erase the data present in the external storage. Here’s how to disable write-protection:

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For SD cards

Step 1: In the Windows search bar, type “gpedit.msc” and press Enter.

Step 2: Go to Computer Configuration > Administartive Template > System > Removable Storage Access.

Step 3: Disable parameter “Removable disks: Deny All Access”.

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error


Step 1: Open Windows Explorer.

Step 2: On the USB drive, right-click on it and select Properties.

Step 3: Uncheck the “Read-only” marked option.

Step 4: A prompt will appear, asking to save the changes, click on Yes.

Step 5: Click on Apply and OK, to save the changes.

Method 2: Using Command Prompt

Here, we are going to use Command Prompt to fix the error.

Step 1: Connect the external storage that you want to format.

Step 2: In the Windows search bar, type “cmd”.

Step 4: Select “Run As Administrator” to open a command prompt.

Step 5: Type diskpart command to open diskpart.

Step 6: Type list disk in order to list all the drives. (Note # associated with SD card / USB / hard disk you want to format).

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

Step 7: Type "select disk#". (Replace # with the number)

Step 8: Type clean.

Step 9: Type create partition primary.

Step 10: Type format fs=ntfs. (This will format the drive in the NTFS file system)

Step 11: Type assign letter=E. (Replace E with any later of your choice)

Method 3: Using Disk Management

Connect the external hardware to your system and follow the steps.

Step 1: Do a right-click on the Start button and select Disk Management.

Step 2: Now, select the storage device that you wish to format in Disk Management.

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

Step 3: Select Format, and open a Format window.

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Step 4: Check all the options present in the Format window and confirm to format the drive.

Method 4: Format external drive in Safe Mode

Let’s try to format the external drive by booting your system in the Safe Mode.

Step 1: Click on Start menu, and open Settings.

Step 2: Select Update & Security > Recovery.

Step 3: Visit Advance Startup > Restart Now.

Step 4: Your system will perform a reboot, and Choose an option screen will appear.

Step 5: Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart.

Step 6: Your system will again restart, click “4” or press F4 ket to start your system in Safe Mode.

Once the system is booted in the Sade Mode, reperform all the methods mentioned above.

Method 4: Using third-party tools

There is third-party software available that allows formatting SD cards / USB drive / hard drive without any issue.

Using AOMEI Partition Assistant

AOMRI Partition Assistant tool is available for Windows 7/8.1/10. Here’s how to begin with the tool.

Step 1: Download and install AOMEI Partition Assistance.

Step 2: Open AOMEI Partition Assistance and select the partition.

Step 3: Do a right-click on the partition to open the drop-down menu.

Step 4: Visit Advanced > Check Partition.

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

Step 5: In the Check Partition window, select Check partition and fix errors in this partition using chkdsk.exe and press OK.

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

Using EaseUS Partion Master

EaseUS Partition Master also comes with the premium version, but you can use the free version as we only have to format the external storage.


Step 1: Download and Install EaseUS Partition Master.

Step 2: Open EaseUS Partition Master.

Step 3: Select the disk that you want to format.

Step 4: Do a right-click on the disk and select Format.

Fix “windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error


All the methods mentioned above are valid fixes. At this point “Windows was unable to complete the format” error should be get resolved and you should be able to format the external storage. However, it is important to create a backup before formatting any external storage as you can lose your precious data.

In case you lose your data, get help from any Data Recovery Service provider.

That’s it for now, hope this helps! Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Till then stay tuned for more info.

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