Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

If you are getting this error then most likely the drive you wish to format is making use of a file system that is unknown to Windows. In my case I come across this error because I tend to boot different OS from USB drives and they use file systems that are unknown to Windows.

In order to make the USB drive usable again you will need to make light use of the command line with toools provided by microsoft.

For this tutorial I’ve prepared a 512MB USB drive previously used to boot Monowall and because it uses a file system that Windows is unable to read it results in the ‘Unable To Complete The Format’ error. While the Windows GUI refuses to format a drive, thanks to the command line the story is different.

The How To

Start by opening a new Command Prompt.

Unable To Format

Type diskpart.

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Diskpart will help us find and select the drive that refuses to format. In the screenshot below my 512MB USB drive was recognized as Disk 4.

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Type select disk 4.

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Type clean.

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Let’s create the primary partition by typing create partition primary.

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Format the drive using FAT32, format fs=fat32 quick. Include the word quick, otherwise the process will take longer.

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And assign.

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Now that we are done type exit.

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Because the drive was formatted using FAT32 Windows now recognizes the 512MB USB Drive.

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Hopefully, you found this tutorial easy to follow. If you have any questions leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible.

70 Responses to “Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format”

  1. Neel says:

    please help me?

  2. Huzair says:

    The command prompt displays just my hard disk labeling it “disk 0″, no memory card displayed. I tried to use a software named SDFormatter, but it says the memory card is write protected. Please help!

  3. ashwini says:

    I got through till format fs=f32 quick..and then it showed ‘0% completed.Virtual Disk Service error: The file system is incompatible.’
    please help!

  4. jordan says:

    thnks dude

  5. Ozbby says:

    i tried but it says the drive is write protected…how do i go about this? Help me

    • Yehmmy Olajire says:

      Write Protection removal

      You can
      remove write protection from your usb flash drive using the below method:

      a. Open
      start menu, in the search bar type regedit and press enter. This wil open the
      registry editor.

      b.
      Navigate to the following path:

      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlStorageDevicePolicies

      Note:

      If the registry key StorageDevicePolicies does not exist, you will need to
      create it manually.

      c. Highlight StorageDevicePolicies, and then create a New DWORD (32-bit) Value
      named as WriteProtect.

      d. Double click the key WriteProtect in the right window and set the value to 0
      in the Value

      Data Box and press OK button

      e. Restart your computer and try copying files into your USB drives.

  6. Alex says:

    Thanks!
    It worked after the Universal USB Installer screwed up my pen drive.

  7. Marcelo Costanzo says:

    1- Thank you very much, it show me the way!
    2- I tried to use an external 500GB SATA disk, but in order to make it work, you have to:
    – first: connect your disk;
    – second: cancel windows attempt to format it;
    – third: do all steps above mentioned on your article, otherwise disk part won’t recognize nor see the SATA disk.
    3- It also worked formating this 500GB SATA disk (465GB). You just have to type ” format fs=ntfs quick”, without the quotes, instead of FAT32.

  8. Akhona says:

    I just did the steps above and now it tells me that the volume is too small, please assist.

  9. elroy says:

    I can format to fat32 but unable to NTFS
    using a baseline 32gig usb stick

  10. sbeinati says:

    thank u it give me this messege can you help me pls

    diskpart has encountered an error: the request could not be performed because of an i/o device error.
    see the system event log for more information.

  11. nisarg71 says:

    hey there bro i have extra 500gb hard disk so i connected that in my pc with sata cable

    but i had same problem window can’t format error.

    so i did as ur explanation but at format step

    when i try to format drive with “format fs=ntfs quick”

    it says
    Diskpart has encounterd an error : the parameter is incorrect.see the system event log for more information,,

    would u pl z help me out…

    thanks in advance…

  12. STANLEY says:

    The flash disk i am trying to format using your method, is being recognized by my computer as removable disk G,but when I right click on it then properties it shows no free space and 0 bytes , but windows is unable to format it, so I try to format using your method,on CMD i type diskpart then list disk, my 2GB USB is not recognized, how can I solve this

  13. navin says:

    Thank You for the info, but i’m unable to execute the ‘clean’ command. the error is as follows
    “DiskPart has encountered an error: Data error (cyclic redundancy check).
    See the System Event Log for more information.”
    Please help me out

  14. Nisarg says:

    You are champ…i formatted my external harddrive with ubuntu linux and after that i was unable to use it in windows and also was not able to format.
    These steps helped.
    Just a correction – in below step :
    format fs=fat32 quick
    use : format fs=exfat quick if you are using windows 7.

  15. Xavier says:

    I have 500GB Toshiba external HD. I have similar case of window could not complete format. When I read through this amazing steps i followed the step and it was successful formatted and assign a name. Aftermath, I try to open it but keep wanting me to format and still showing RAW instead of primary. Please what do I do because it shall be painful it’s not up to a month since I bought it. email: xavijnr@gmail.com. thanks

  16. ankit says:

    hey bro when i wrote “list disk” as u guided it showed only disk 0 only . what happened and what to do now

  17. Anish says:

    I’m using HP laptop with 500gb hardisk and 3days back while suffring net it hang up and shows error and aftrthat it wont startup again i tried to repair thru disk then it wont hpnd and now hard disk is detecting by windws while installing. wht to do? please guide me. I put it as extrnal hard disk and trying to farmat and again reinstall it into lape bt error came ‘windows is unable to format this drive. please help me out. it is my 2nd hard disk yaar.

  18. shankar says:

    when i type create primary partition i have encountered an error saying that diskpart has encountered an error:data error(cyclic redundancy check).see the systdem log for more information pls help me

  19. xperia says:

    tank you

  20. ugo says:

    This was so so helpful…..tanks a bunch Luis!!!

  21. reng says:

    hello, thanks for saving my usb flash drive!

    god bless!

  22. dolan says:

    You are amazing. I saved many hours and lot of money using your instruction to solve this problem. Thanks for that.

  23. pit says:

    Great post, and Great Thanks!

  24. X-0 says:

    this is fking AWESOME.. truly the medicine for this sickness.. Thanx!

  25. SlowLearner says:

    I tried to use you method but after typing DISKPART nothing is happening even my C drive is not displayed. please assist

  26. SlowLearner says:

    After typing List disk it display on C drive, D and F drive are not dispalyed

  27. Santosh Ghimire says:

    I have try all about above but still it wont work.
    i havent any idea what to do, bye new 1 or throw it…
    plz help

  28. Luis, this is the exact method i used to format my c: drive – the drive where i have my windows 7 installed. But i had not included the ‘Quick’ command,

    I was wondering if I give the command “CLEAN”, then would it delete all the files on my C:drive. Remember, my C DRIVE is in PARTITION 2 and there are other partitions on the same DISK … that is DISK 0 … so my question would be, if I CLEAN the disk 0, would i lose all other partition’s files on it?

    In short, how do I clean and format my C DRIVE which is in PARTITION 2 inside DISK 0?

  29. hp says:

    i can’t format my pendrive in your method

  30. hp says:

    When i am formatting my flash drive in cmd it was telling the parameter is incorrect.see the system event log for more information?

  31. djeah says:

    THANK YOU! This worked flawlessly!

  32. atish says:

    When i am formatting my flash drive in cmd it was telling the parameter is incorrect.see the system event log for more information?

  33. unable to format my disk 1 to NTFS forma !!, when i try FAT its working , but to use it like a boot flash i must make it NTFS.

    I cant format my disk 1 to NTFS !!

  34. alsa says:

    I got through till format fs=f32 quick..and then it showed ‘0% completed.Virtual Disk Service error: The file system is incompatible.’
    please help!

  35. Raye Person says:

    Will this process work with cd drives?

  36. djon says:

    i did it as u said it bro but
    it says
    Diskpart has encounterd an error : the parameter is incorrect.see the system event log for more information,,

    would u pl z help me out…

  37. Neelu says:

    don’t show online diskpart…But Device mange is show my Pen Drive..4GB

  38. Thank you! This saved my USB drive.

  39. gabi says:

    tnx alot i tryed awery thing and only this worked

  40. prat says:

    after typing the format command it shows parameter is incorrect

    i tried fat32,ntfs,exfat all three all showed the same error

  41. Niki says:

    That’s so coooooool!! Thank you!

  42. Sincere Imaikop says:

    I have a 298 GB external hard that has refuse to work, I have been trying to format it, even with Disk Management, No way untill i found this procedures,

    i followed all uptill CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY. when the system return error,

    Diskpart has encountered an error: Data error (cyclic redundancy check) see the system even log for more information.

    What should I do please

  43. SiddhantKankaria says:

    Hi!
    I have a 16GB SanDisk flash drive which recently stopped working.
    It shows that the size is only 64MB and Windows cannot format it either.
    Following your tutorial, the following error occured when creating the partition primary:

    DISKPART> create partition primary

    No usable free extent could be found. It may be that there is insufficient free space to create a partition at the specified size and offset. Specify different size and offset values or don’t specify either to create the maximum sized partition. It may be that the disk is partitioned using the MBR disk partitioning format and the disk contains either 4 primary partitions, (no more partitions may be created), or 3 primary partitions and one extended partition, (only logical drives may be created).

    Please help! I have tried many other ways, but in vain. :(

    Siddhant

  44. nithya s says:

    when i enter clean command it says , diskpart has encountered an error , the system cannot find file specified , see the system log for more information . can u help me ?

  45. Shubham Agarwal says:

    great!!! worked fantastically!!

  46. MB says:

    Help please!!!! when I want to format everything goes right, but it brings me an error message at the end its says that your HDD is big enough to format it and for more information I want to format a 750 GB HDD, can anyone help me, Thank you in Advance.

  47. Sethu says:

    when i enter clean command it says , diskpart has encountered an error , the system cannot find file specified , see the system log for more information . can u help me ?

  48. Mogesie Gedamu says:

    Hello there! when i wrote “list disk” as u guided it showed only disk 0 online. so i can’t see other disk parts to select my formatting disk. so what happened ???

  49. Akib says:

    it says volume size too small, i have a 32gb toshiba usb flash disk :( this is so annoying

  50. karaje says:

    i got an error when clean the selected disk
    Diskpart has encounter an error: the system cannot find the file specified.
    see the system event log for information

  51. chuchma says:

    Everything worked great. thank you!!! The only problem I encountered was when I typed “format fs=fat32 quick”, it did not work, so I tried
    “format fs=ntfs quick” and it worked flawlessly. I don’t think it’ll matter, right? it’s my external HD and my laptop is running Vista.

  52. twister says:

    my memory card is not showing when i type list disk.. why??

  53. rune man says:

    Anytime i put create partition primary it says no usable extent

  54. Qwerty86 says:

    DISKPART> select disk 1

    Disk 1 is now the selected disk.

    DISKPART> clean

    DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.

    DISKPART> create partition primary

    No usable free extent could be found. It may be that there is insufficient
    free space to create a partition at the specified size and offset. Specify
    different size and offset values or don’t specify either to create the
    maximum sized partition. It may be that the disk is partitioned using the MBR di
    sk
    partitioning format and the disk contains either 4 primary partitions, (no
    more partitions may be created), or 3 primary partitions and one extended
    partition, (only logical drives may be created).

    Pls, Help me, what i do next? :(

  55. sathy says:

    thank u ……it works out

  56. paul says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH LUIS, for posting these easy-to-follow screenshot instruction!. I managed to format a 500GB disk which I thought was beyond rescue. I formatted it to exFAT and then reformatted it to NTFS. Your help is much appreciated!

  57. Prabhu kumar says:

    It’s giving 0 percentage completed Virtual disk service error:volume size is too big

  58. Penh sokra says:

    hi I have usb 8gb PNY i can’t format message window was unable to complete the format and i try follow u but have problem

  59. ashok says:

    in the very second step i could not get seen my disk in the list showing its memory size. what should i do now?

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