Resolving the ‘Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format’ Issue

When encountering the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error while attempting to clear a USB flash drive, SD card, or another storage device, it can be quite troublesome. Formatting should wipe a disk partition clean, yet this error message indicates a hiccup in that process. This article provides a step-by-step solution for overcoming this common obstacle and restoring your device’s functionality.

Effective Solutions for the Format Error in Windows

Perform a Virus Scan on Your System

One potential cause of the formatting issue could be malware interference. To ensure that isn’t the case, scan your system:

  • Plug the problematic device into your computer.
  • Navigate to “Settings”, then “Update & Security”. Select “Windows Security” and click on “Open Windows Security”.
  • In the “Virus & threat protection” section, click on “Scan options”.
  • Opt for “Custom Scan”, select the affected drive, and initiate the scan.
  • If malware is detected, follow the prompts to remove it.

Format via Command Prompt

Command Prompt offers an alternative way to format your drive:

  • Press Windows Key + R, type “cmd”, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated Command Prompt.
  • Approve the UAC (User Account Control) prompt for changes.
  • Key in “format X: /fs:ntfs” (substitute ‘X’ with your drive letter and ‘ntfs’ with your preferred file system) and press Enter.

Leverage Disk Management

If the error persists, try Disk Management:

  • Use the shortcut Windows Key + X and select “Disk Management”.
  • Right-click on the desired drive and choose “Format” from the menu.
  • Pick a volume label and file system format, ensuring the “Quick Format” option is deselected for a thorough check.

Address Disk Errors

Disk errors can also block formatting:

  • In File Explorer, right-click the troubled drive, then click “Properties”.
  • Under the “Tools” tab, find “Error checking” and click “Check”.
  • Choose “Repair Drive” for Windows to detect and address disk errors.

Disable Write Protection

Write protection could be the culprit; to disable it:

Try copying a file to the drive – if you’re met with “The disk is write-protected. Remove the write protection or use another disk,” it’s time to find the physical switch on the drive and toggle it to deactivate write protection, thereby enabling formatting.

Wrapping Up

We trust this guide has shed light on rectifying the “Windows was unable to complete the format” issue. Should you need additional help, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

How can I identify if my drive has write protection?

Detecting write protection is as simple as attempting to drag and drop a file to the drive – if an error message about write protection appears, the drive is secured against alterations.

What steps can I take to resolve disk errors in Windows 10?

Within Windows 10, the Check Disk utility is your go-to tool for fixing disk errors. Access this from the drive’s properties menu under the “Tools” tab, and use the “Check” button to start the repair process.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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