FIX: Windows cannot format this drive

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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windows cannot format drive

Any operating system is not free of quirks and Windows 10 is no different. Most of the times when the machine is slow to respond or the overall performance goes down we try to resolve the problem by formatting the device.

Obviously, we will try the other methods initially and if nothing works out formatting the drive or PC is the last resort. Formatting a drive in Windows is relatively easy all one needs to do is select the drive, right-click and hit on the format.

The caveat, however, is that sometimes Windows throws up errors that often leave us clueless:

Windows cannot format this drive. Quit any disk utilities or other programs that are using the drive, and make sure that no window is displaying the contents of the drive. Then try formatting again.

The error quoted above is pretty common and nerve waking as well. In fact, the same error also pops up even if you open the Disk Management Utility and try to format the drive.

While we can employ third-party software to do the work for us, however with a few tweaks one can resolve the problem without the need for other software. We need to understand the problem can be tackled in several ways.

How do I fix de drive format error?

1. Use the Diskpart command

  1. Press Start
  2. Type in cmd
  3. The Command Prompt will be open
  4. In the command prompt type the following command sequentially,
  5. list volume
    • select volume<number>
      • The number refers to the disk that you want to format, if the disk is 3 then the command will be select volume 3
  1. DiskPart now responds with Volume # is Now the Selected Volume.
  2. One can also use optional commands like the one blow and press Enter for formatting NTFS format.
    • format fs=ntfs quick

Apparently, DiskPart is one of the preferable methods to resolve this problem. The method involves invoking the Diskpart command line tool which will be baked into your Windows 10 OS.

2. Hard Format using Disk Management

  1. Open the run windows and type diskmgmt.msc> and press Enter.
  2. The Disk Management tool will be opened. Click on the Format option, it’s quite likely that the tool will show this message:
    • The volume (Disk>#) is currently in use. To force the format of this volume click Yes.
  3. After clicking Yes the storage disk will be formatted without any further error messages.
    • Alternatively, you could run a USB diagnostics before troubleshooting this problem.

As a prerequisite, I would also suggest all you folks to check your e”>drive for physical damage or if the sectors have gone bad.

It’s quite possible that in both cases the same error message will be displayed while formatting. Also, recheck the USB driver in the Device Manager and if necessary update the same.

By following these steps, you should be able to now format any Windows drive without any further issues.

Let us know which of the two methods helped you the most by leaving us your feedback in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in July 2017 and was revamped and updated in June 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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