How to Fix Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format

How to fix Windows was unable to complete the format? The guide offers you the ultimate solution - 4DDiG Partition Manager to complete the format.

5 mins read

Updated on 2024-04-17 15:24:21 to Windows Fix

Are you struggling to format a removable disk, partition, or SD card? If you're receiving the error message "Windows was unable to complete the format," rest assured that you're not alone. It's essential to find a solution promptly to overcome this obstacle. In this guide, we'll provide you with effective solutions to overcome this formatting obstacle and successfully complete the process. To begin, it's recommended that you use a data recovery tool to back up and recover all your data from the inaccessible disks. This will ensure that your important files are protected before proceeding with the formatting steps. Keep reading to discover the solution that best suits your needs.

Windows was unable to complete the format

Possible Reasons Why Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format

Before discussing the solutions, it's important to understand the possible reasons behind this error. By familiarizing yourself with these factors, you can proactively avoid encountering such an issue. Typically, there are five key factors that can lead to the "Windows was unable to complete the format SD card" error:

1. The Drive Is Write Protected

The disk or storage device you are trying to format might have write protection enabled, preventing any changes or formatting operations.

2. The Drive is Physically Damaged

Physical errors on the disk, such as bad sectors or disk corruption, can prevent Windows from completing the format.

3. The Drive Suffers from Virus Infection

When a disk or storage device is infected with a virus or malware, it can interfere with the formatting process and prevent Windows from completing it successfully.

4. The Drive is Lack of Partitions

If you are trying to format an unpartitioned drive, Windows may not be able to proceed with the formatting process.

Part 2: Recover Data When Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format

When you keep receiving the error message warning you about the inability to format the drive, it's crucial to prioritize data security and recovery before attempting to fix the "Windows was unable to complete the format" error. In situations like these, Tenorshare 4DDiG can be your go-to solution for recovering lost data from external storage devices, including micro SD cards that Windows was unable to format. This powerful software enables you to recover data from various storage devices, such as DVDs, SD cards, hard drives, USB drives, cameras, SSDs, and more.

Here is how you can recover your data from the SD card/hard drive/USB where you received the Windows was unable to complete the format error:

  • Connect and Select the Disk

    Download and launch 4DDiG, select the SD card/hard drive/USB that Windows can't format, and then start the scanning process.

    select drive
  • Scan and Preview Data

    Preview and select the files you want to recover once 4DDiG finishes the scanning. Hit the Recover button after selection.

    preview deleted files
  • Recover from External Drive

    Choose a destination for saving the recovered files and click Recover button to get your selected data back from the SD card/hard drive/USB that Windows failed to format.

    recover deleted files

Part 3: How to Fix Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format?

In this section, we will explore several effective methods to help you fix windows unable to complete the format and successfully format your storage device.

Method 1: Scan and Repair Bad Sectors

If the format error is caused by bad sectors on the disk, you can use disk repair tools like CHKDSK (Check Disk) to scan and repair any faulty sectors. Here are the detailed steps:

  • Type cmd in the Search box, right-click "Command Prompt," and choose "Run as administrator."

  • Type chkdsk D: /f /r /x and hit Enter. (Write the letter of the drive instead of D).

    Windows was unable to complete the format
  • Now you can go to Windows File Explorer, locate and right-click on your hard drive. Select "Format", reset the file system as NTFS, tick "Quick Format" and click "Start"

Method 2: Remove Write Protection

If your storage device is write-protected, you won't be able to format it. Look for a physical switch on the device or check the settings in your operating system to disable write protection. Once write protection is disabled, you should be able to format the device. Here's how to remove write protection on your storage device:

  • Connect your device to your PC that Windows was unable to complete the format USB.
  • Lift the switch off your USB or SD card to the OFF side.

Method 3: Clear Virus

Formatting errors can sometimes be caused by virus or malware infections. Use a reliable antivirus software to scan and remove any malicious software from the storage device. This can eliminate the formatting issue caused by viruses and restore the device's functionality.

  • Choose a reputable antivirus software and install it on your computer.
  • Connect the affected storage device to your computer and launch the installed antivirus software. Perform a thorough scan of the storage device to detect any viruses or malware.
  • Once the scan is complete, take appropriate action to quarantine or remove the identified viruses or malware.
  • After successfully removing the viruses or malware, attempt to format the storage device again using the preferred method. With the malicious software eliminated, the formatting process should proceed without any errors.

Method 4: Use Command Prompt to Fix Windows Unable to Complete the Format

The Command Prompt allows you to perform advanced disk operations. You can use commands like "diskpart" and "format" to manually format the disk. Be cautious when using Command Prompt, as incorrect commands can lead to data loss. Ensure you have a backup of your important files before proceeding.

  • Launch Command Prompt through Windows menu.
  • Type the following command with particular drive letter and file system and hit enter:
  • Eg. 1: format C: /fs:ntfs
  • Eg. 2: format J: /fs:FAT32

Method 5: Use Disk Management to Complete the Format

Disk Management is a built-in Windows tool that allows you to manage disks and partitions. If the "Windows was unable to complete the format" error keeps appearing, you can use Disk Management to complete the format. Follow these steps:

  • Press Windows + X keys and select "Disk Management" to open the Disk Management utility.
  • Locate the drive where you received the “Windows was unable to complete the format hard drive” error message. Right-click on it and select the Format option.

    use disk management to fix Windows was unable to complete the format-1
  • Select the desired file system for the drive. You can choose between NTFS, FAT32, or exFAT.

    use disk management to fix Windows was unable to complete the format-2
  • Review the formatting settings and click "OK" to start the formatting process. Wait for Disk Management to format the drive, which may take some time depending on the drive size and selected options.

Method 6: Use a Third-Party Tool to Complete the Format (Easier)

If the previous methods did not resolve the "Windows was unable to complete the format" issue, you can try using a reliable third-party tool like 4DDiG Partition Manager to complete the formatting process. This tool offers advanced features and can assist in completing the formatting process. Here's how to use this tool to complete the format.

  • Begin by downloading and launching 4DDiG Partition Manager on your computer. Ensure that your computer is connected to the internet and your SD card is properly inserted into the card reader or connected to the computer.


    Secure Download

  • Select "Partition Management" and locate the partition of your SD card that needs to be formatted. Right-click on the partition and choose the "Format" option.

    format sd card via 4ddig partition manager-1
  • Select the desired file system, such as FAT32 or exFAT, and provide a volume label for the SD card.

    format sd card via 4ddig partition manager-2
  • Click OK after you confirm that your choices are correct to initiate the formatting process.

    format sd card via 4ddig partition manager-3
  • Wait until your storage device is successfully formatted.

    format sd card via 4ddig partition manager-4

Method 7: Try Formatting on Another OS

Before you abandon the drive, there's another way you can attempt to detach the issue. If you approach a machine running macOS or Linux, have a go at utilizing those working frameworks to compose your outer drive.

While you'll have to reformat the drive again for use with Windows, it assists with sorting out if the issue lies with your equipment or Windows.

[Video Tutorial] How To Fix Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

FAQs about Windows Unable to Complete the Format

1. How do I fix a USB drive that won't format?

  • Check the USB Drive's Write-Protection.
  • Scan for the virus.
  • Run CHKDSK scan and format USB using Command Prompt.

2. How do you fix SSD cannot format?

  • Remove write protection.
  • Format RAW SSD via Diskpart.
  • Format SSD via a third-party formatting tool.
  • Format SSD with another Operating System.

3. How do I fix Windows was unable to complete the format SD card?

  • Have a go at Formatting Through Disk Management.
  • Eliminate Write Protection on the Drive.
  • Utilize the SD Memory Card Formatter.
  • Sweep the Drive for Errors.
  • Utilize a Third-Party Formatting Tool.
  • Sweep for Malware.
  • Give Formatting a shot Another OS.

4. What do I do if my external hard drive won't format?

Get all the data recovered with the help of Tenorshare 4DDiG first and then try to repair it.

5. How can I use an SD card without formatting?

You can use an SD card without formatting using one of the following steps:

  • Try General Troubleshooting
  • Use CHKDSK to repair an unformatted card
  • Try using a card reader to connect to your PC


The error message "Windows was unable to complete the format" can have various causes, but there are several solutions available to resolve this issue. By following the top 7 ways outlined in this guide, you can effectively address the problem and successfully format your storage device.

However, it's important to remember that attempting to format a storage device may lead to data loss. If you have valuable data on the device and want to ensure its recovery, it is recommended to use a reliable data recovery software like 4DDiG Data Recovery. With its advanced scanning and recovery capabilities, 4ddig can help you retrieve your lost files from formatted or inaccessible storage devices with ease.

William Bollson (senior editor)

William Bollson, the editor-in-chief of 4DDiG, devotes to providing the best solutions for Windows and Mac related issues, including data recovery, repair, error fixes.

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