Quick fix for the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error

By: Andrew Wafer
4 minute read
windows was unable to complete the format

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Windows 10 has many built-in settings and features through which we can initiate different processes or complete various tasks. What we all want is a stable firmware and intuitive solutions when we use our computers for daily tasks. That’s why, problems like the‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error are so frustrating.

Why? Well, such an easy task to perform – formatting a certain partition or external device – shouldn’t raise any sort of problems in the first place. Formatting your drive is a default feature which should offer instant hardware-oriented solutions regardless of what version of Windows you are currently using. And since we know how important is to resolve all these problems quickly, without wasting too much time, we are going to show you how to fix the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ malfunction within minutes.

Usually, a format is required when you first use an USB memory stick, an external hard drive, a new SSD, or any other similar component. Additionally, in some situations Windows might ask you to initiate a format for being able to use your flash drives. And, independently from the already mentioned aspects, you might want to format your drive to erase data and files that are no longer useful for you.

Anyway, the reasons why formatting is required are not relevant at this point. What matters is how you can troubleshoot the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ error on Windows 10. Check out all the guidelines below.

Note: if possible, save the files that might still be required afterwards. The formatting process is a wipe operation that will erase everything from your drive – basically, in the end it will be restored back to its default / factory state.

Windows was unable to complete the format [FIX]

Usually the formatting process can be easily applied. You plug in the external device in the USB socket, you go to ‘My Computer’, you right click on the respectively Drive and you select ‘Format…’. You then agree with the alerts and you choose the type of format you want to complete. The wiping process is initiated and you’ll receive the confirmation message. Well, in some situations, the formatting process is interrupted and you get the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ alert instead.

There are various reasons why the formatting process stops: there is a virus infection, there are bad sectors, there is a storage device damage, or disk write protection is enabled. However, there is a way in which you can still successfully complete the wiping process and here is what you need to do in order to get it right from your first attempt.

Use Disk Management

  • Go to Desktop and right-click on the My Computer icon.
  • From the Menu that will be listed choose ‘Manage’.
  • From the left panel, under Storage you have the Disk Management field listed. Select it.manage storage windows 10

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    This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

    1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
    2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
    3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

  • Now, on the main window you will have all your drivers displayed – along with their partitions if there are any.
  • From that list select the drive that needs to be formatted.computer management windows 10
  • Right click on it and select ‘Format’ – if there are any partitions, delete them first.
  • Make sure that ‘Quick Format’ isn’t selected; choose the format type and complete the process.

If the format still cannot be completed, right click on the driver and select “delete volume”. Afterwards, right click on the driver again and choose ‘new simple volume’. Complete the wizard by following on-screen prompts for creating a new volume. In the end initiate the format. Enjoy.

You can also use a third party app for completing the format process, or you can execute dedicated commands from command prompt, though that process might be a little bit more complicated. However I will explain it below too:

How to erase a drive through CMD

  • Go to Disk Management as showed above and write down the disk number that’s assigned to the device that you want to format.
  • Then, open a command prompt window with developer rights – open Task Manager (CTRL+Alt+Del) click on File -> Run new task and enter cmd (make sure the ‘create this task with administrator priviledges’ box is checked).cmd elevated
  • In cmd type: diskpart and press Enter.
  • Next, enter list disk and press Enter again.
  • A list of available disks will be displayed.format disk cmd
  • Just enter the disk number that’s assigned to your flash drive and press Enter.
  • Type clean, press Enter and wait while the format process is completed.

There you have it; that’s how you can fix the ‘Windows was unable to complete the format’ issue on Windows 10. You can tell us how everything turned out in the end by filling out the comment form from down below. If you are still facing issues while trying to use the format feature we will try to assist you as soon as possible.

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For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

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