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Fix Windows was unable to complete the format

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If you are trying to format SD card or USB drive then it’s possible you may face the error “Windows was unable to complete the format.” There are many possible explanations as to why you’re facing this error such as bad sectors, storage device damage, disk write protection, virus or malware infection, etc. Another major issue regarding formatting USB drive or SD card seems to be because Windows cannot read the FAT partition table. The problem may occur when the following conditions are true:

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  • The file system on the disk uses 2048 bytes per sector.
  • The disk which you’re trying to format is already using a FAT file system.
  • You have used another Operating system (other than Microsoft such as Linux) to format the SD card or USB drive.

Fix Windows was unable to complete the format

In this case, there are various solutions to fiThereessage; what may work for one user doesn’t necessary. What will work for another as these fixes depend on user system configuration and environment. So without wasting any time let’s see how to actually Fix Windows was unable to complete the format error message with the below-listed troubleshooting steps.

Fix Windows was unable to complete the format

Make sure to create a restore point just in case something goes wrong.

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Method 1: Check if your SD card or USB drive has physical damage

Try to use the SD card or USB drive with another PC and see if you’re able to. Next, insert another working SD card or USB drive into the same slot in order to verify that the slot is not damaged. Now once you have removed this possible explanation for the error message we can continue with our troubleshooting.

Method 2: Make sure the USB drive or SD card is not Write Protected

If your USB drive or SD card is write protected then you won’t be able to delete files or folder on the drive, not only this but you also won’t able to format it. In order to fix this issue, you need to switch Tourity lock to Unlock position on the disk in order to remove write protection.

This switch should be upwards in order to turn off Write Protection

Method 3: todrive using Windows Disk Management

1. Press Windows Key + R then type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter to open Disk Management.

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diskmgmt disk management

2. If you’re not able to access disk management via above method then press Windows Key + X then select Control Panel.

control panel

3. Type Administrative in the Control Panel search and select Administrative Tools.

Type Administrative in the Control Panel search and select Administrative Tools

4. Once inside Administrative Tools, double click on Computer Management.

5. Now from the left-hand menu, select Disk Management.

6. Find your SD card or USB drive then right-click on it and select Format.

Find your SD card or USB drive then right-click on it and select Format

7. Follow-on-screen option and make sure to uncheck the Quick Format option.

This should help you to resolve Windows was unable to complete the fat issue but if to not able to format the drive then continue with the next method.

Method 4: Disable Write Protection in Registry

1. Press Windows Key + R then type regedit and hit Enter.

Run command regedit

2. Navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies

Note: If you can’t locate the StorageDevicePolicies key then you need select Control key then right-click on it and select New > Key. Name the key as StorageDevicePolicies.

Navigate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies

3. Find the registry key WriteProtect under storageManagement.

Find the registry key WriteProtect under StorageManagement

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Note: If you are not able to find the above DWORD then you need to create one. Select StorageDevicePolicies key then right-click on it and select New > DWORD (32-bit) value. Name the key as WriteProtect.

4. Double click the WriteProtect key and set it’s value to 0 in order to disable Write Protection.

Double click the WriteProtect key and set it's value to 0 in order to disable Write Protection

5. Reboot your PC to save changes.

6. Again try to format your device and see if you’re able to Fix Windows was unable to complete the format error.

Method 5: Format using Command Prompt

1. Press Windows Key + X then select Command Prompt (Admin).

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command prompt with admin rights

2. Now type the following command and hit Enter after each one:

diskpart
list disk

select your disk listed under diskpart list disk

3. Select your disk from the list and then type the command:

select disk (disk number)

Note: For example, if you have disk 2 as your SD card or USB drive then the command will be: select disk 2

4. Again type the following command and hit Enter after each one:

clean
create partition primary
format fs=FAT32
exit

Format the SD card or USB drive using Command Prompt

Note: You may receive the following message:

The format cannot run because 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? (Y/N)

Type Y and hit Enter, this would format the drive and fix the error “Windows was unable to complete the format.”

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5. Your SD card or USB drive has been formatted, and it is ready to use.

Method 6: Use SD Formatter

 

Note: It deletes all the data, so make sure you backup your SD card or USB drive before continuing.

1. Download SD Formatter from here.

SD Card Formatter for Windows and Mac

2. Double-click the download file to install the application.

Install SD Card Formatter from the download file

3. Open the application from desktop shortcut then selects your drive letter from the Drive drop-down menu.

4. Now, under Formatting options, select Overwrite format option.

select your SD card and then click Overwrite format option

5. Click Yes to confirm pop up message which says “Formatting will erase all data on this card. Do you want to continue?”

Select Yes to format all the data on the SD card

6. You will see the SD Card Formatter window, which will show you the status of Formatting your SD card.

You will see the SD Card Formatter window which will show you the status of Formatting your SD card

8. Completely formatting a USB drive or SD card can take some type, so be patient while the above process continues.

Formatting was successfully completed

9.After the format is complete, remove your SD card and re-insert it.

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That’s it you have successfully Fix Windows was unable to complete the format error but if you still have any questions regarding this guide then feel free to ask them in the comment’s section.

2 thoughts on “Fix Windows was unable to complete the format”

  1. None of these options worked for me. I guess it’s been physically damaged beyond the point where software can’t help it. It doesn’t look like it’s in bad shape, but small hardware I guess is fragile.

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