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Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format: Impeccable Fixes

SD cards or USB flash drives are formatted for various reasons. Formatting on external storage devices is done by choosing the file option in the File Explorer context menu. However, some users fail to perform this process. In the worst situation, when they try to format the external storage devices, they get stuck with ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error message. And this error can occur on any version of Windows.

Therefore, if you encounter the same error, then this post is for you. As this post introduces the causes and step by step solutions to overcome this situation.

Reasons for Windows was Unable to Complete the Format

Before we walk towards the troubleshooting section, you must know all the possible causes behind this error. Usually, there are 5 common factors that are responsible for the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format SD card’ error message:

  • Disk write protection
  • Bad sectors
  • Malware or virus infection
  • Storage device physically corrupted or damaged
  • Windows aren’t able to read FAT partition table

However, whatever be the reason, resolving such an error is always quite challenging for the users. So, without further delay, let’s proceed to the troubleshooting section.

Windows was Unable to Complete the Format: Easy Procedure to Eliminate it

In order to eliminate the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error message, follow the methods given here. As here, in this section, we have enlisted some of the quick and easy solutions.

Furthermore, before formatting, you need to keep in mind that the formatting process will erase all the data present in your system. So, it is recommended, make a backup of your data and important files.

Procedure 1: Turn off Write Protection Feature Using Registry

At first, turn off the Write Protection feature in your device. By doing this, you can use the Registry.

Step 1: Press and hold the Windows Home key + R simultaneously on your device. This process will launch the Run dialog box. In the Run dialog box, write “regedit” and hit Enter.

Step 2: After that, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies and then, locate WriteProtection in StorageDevicePolicies. Here, tap on the WriteProtection key and reset its value from 1 to 0 in order to turn off the Write Protection feature.

Step 3: Now, simply press the OK button. Afterward, restart your device in order to save the new changes. Check whether the issue gets eliminated or not.

Procedure 2: Run Antivirus Scan

Flash drives are not developed with any security programs. Thus, there are high chances that they can get malware or virus in them. This malware or virus can prevent the flash drive from working properly. Besides, it can also prevent the drive from formatting. In that case, running any antivirus scan will help.

After running the antivirus scan, if the error message still appears, then you should disable the security program temporarily.

Procedure 3: Check the Disk Scan

Your USB drive or SD card might contain certain system file errors that require to be repaired. Therefore, you can repair the USB drive by using Check Disk Utility. It will automatically scan the USB drive and detect the system file error to repair them. To run a Disk Scan, you can follow these steps:

Step 1: Primarily, you have to open the File Explorer and then, insert the drive in the USB slot. Now, wait till the scan is complete. Afterward, you need to tap on This PC option and then, click on the hard drive that you need to scan using CHKDSK.

Step 2: Now, choose the Properties option from the menu. Then, go to the Tools tab and select the Check button that is under Error Checking. This process will take a few minutes to scan the drive. So, be patient.

Procedure 4: Use Disk Management

By using Disk Management, you can format the drive to remove such kind of Windows error. To do this, follow the instructions below:

Step 1: First of all, press the Windows Home key + R key altogether to launch the Run dialog box. Now, in the Run dialog box, write “diskmgmt.msc” and press the Enter key to initiate the Disk Management

Step 2: Now, in the Disk Management window, right-click on the USB drive and select the Format option. Then, you will be prompted with a dialog box, confirm the process. Just hit the OK button.

Step 3: Afterward, select the File System in order to format the USB storage. Now, tap on OK button. Under the Disk Management window, if the USB drive shows empty with allocated file space. Then, tap on the New Simple volume that is under the USB drive’s menu. Now, you can format the flash drive with the new Simple Volume Wizard.

Procedure 5: Disable the USB Flash Drive’s Write Protection

To remove ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error message from your device, you can disable the USB flash drive’s write protection. But, in case, you do not find the write protect switch, then you can switch it off using any kind of third-party program to unblock position.

And in turn, eliminating the Write Protection. Once it is done, see whether the error message has disappeared or not.

Procedure 6: Use Diskpart

Diskpart is a utility tool that can help you to format the USB flash drive. Basically, Diskpart is a command line tool that can be launched using Command Prompt. So, you can follow the steps below in order to format the USB flash drivers by using Diskpart:

Primarily, you need to press and hold the Windows Home key + R key altogether on your keyboard. Now, in the Search bar, type “Dispart” and hit the Enter key. Then, in the Command Prompt, type the following command lines and hit Enter after each command:

  • list disk
  • select disk n //where n is the disk number of the removable di
  • clean
  • create partition primary
  • format FS=FAT32 quick or format FS=NTFS quick
  • assign letter N: where N: can be other drive letter not occupied currently
  • Exit

After performing this action, the issue should be resolved.

Method 7: Format Drive Using Command Prompt

Furthermore, you can also resolve this issue by using the Command Prompt. To do so, you can press the Windows logo key + X simultaneously on your keyboard. Now, select the Command Prompt (Admin). Here, you can enter the following commands in the Command Prompt. And, press the Enter button after each command:

  • Diskpart
  • list disk
  • Select disk volume (eg. I typed Select Disk 1)
  • clean
  • create partition primary
  • format fs=ntfs quick

After performing these commands, you might receive the following message: Format cannot run as the volume is in use by another process. The format may run if this volume is dismounted first. ALL OPENED HANDLES TO THIS VOLUME WOULD THEN BE

INVALID. Would you like to force a dismount on this volume?”


Now, select the Yes button and press the Enter key. This process will format your SD card or flash drive and remove the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error message.

Method 8: Check if your USB Drive or SD Card is Physically Damaged

If none of the methods works, then you require to check your SD card or USB drive to check if it is physically damaged. Then, you can use it on a different system and check if it works. If the drive doesn’t work in a different system, then you can insert another disc in the same slot to see if there is a problem with the USB slot. This process will ensure that whether the issue lies with the slot or with the USB drive.


These are the most reliable solutions to remove the error message ‘Windows was unable to complete the format.’ However, if there is any sort of query as well as any feedback from your end, then please share your thoughts with us.