Best Methods to Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Issue

In case your Windows was unable to complete the format on SD card, USB drive, or CD, you can always try to fix it up with some simple tricks. A Windows PC often experiences this issue whenever an SD card runs into an error. The easiest way to get rid of the error and uses it back is to format the external hard drive. At some point, it can cause the SD card to malfunction and keeps having some troubles whenever you wish to use it. Not only that, but you can also inspect the error in the Windows settings for external hard drives if there is ever one.

Usually, there will be a notification regarding this error. You will see “Windows was unable to complete the format” message whenever you try to format an SD card, USB drive or CD. This type of error is mostly caused by the external device. Other than that, the error can also lie in the different settings of the Windows PC and the settings of the hard drive.

When it comes to external hard drives, like SD card, you will never know when or how it experiences malfunctions. More often than not, you can notice a faulty SD card when a Windows PC fails to complete formatting it. If you find your SD card is unable to format, then you are looking for problems involving bad sectors, storage device damage, disk writes protection, virus or malware infection, and many more. In case other computers can read your SD card, then the problem is not in the external hard drive. The cause can possibly come from the Windows system itself as it may have been unequipped with the FAT system reading.

If your SD card system uses 2048 bytes per sector or uses the FAT file system, then there is a chance the newest Windows system cannot complete the format. In addition to that, formatting the SD card from a computer with a different operating system can also cause this error to happen.

Methods to Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format” Error

Methods to Fix Windows was Unable to Complete the Format Issue
Methods to Fix Windows was Unable to Complete the Format Issue

Since “Windows was unable to complete the format” error can be caused by many issues, then you can try out several different methods to fix it. In accordance with the causes, we have curated a list of effective methods to fix “Windows was unable to complete the format”, whether it be for SD card or CD. If you wish to use the SD card or USB drive without any changes, we have the solution for you. On the other hand, you can complete the format and start anew with your external hard drive.

Before you perform one of these methods, it will be wise for you to try inserting your external hard drive to another computer. Since you cannot be sure of the cause of the error just yet, inserting the external drive to another computer may illuminate you on the matter. If another computer can read the external drive, then it means the problem lies in your current computer system or settings. In case the other computer cannot read the external drive, then it means the drive is in the fault.

In order to fix this issue, we have curated several methods you can see down below. Try each one of the methods and make sure you can open the SD card afterward. If not, then you can try to perform the other methods and see which one works for you.

Without further ado, let’s check the methods to fix “Windows was unable to complete the format” error for SD Card, USB driver, or CD below.

Inspecting Physical Damages on External Hard Drives

An external hard drive, like SD card USB drive, often experiences some errors. Some of the errors may have been related to the file system. On the other hand, the SD card or USB drive can also experience physical damages which can cause the error. In order to examine the physical damage possibility on the SD card or USB drive, you can perform this method. Follow the steps below to do it.

  1. As usual, insert the SD card or USB drive to your computer. See if it can read or complete the format normally.
  2. Try to insert another SD card or USB drive into the same external card or USB slot. See if the computer can read or proceed with the format of the external card or drive.
  3. If the slot works for the second SD card or USB drive, then it means your computer’s physical hardware is not the problem.

To further inspect the external drive and fix the error, you can check the other methods below.

Write-protected SD Card or USB Drive

Having a write-protected SD card or USB drive can often result in the inability of Windows to complete the format. The write-protected setting is often used to protect the data in the external drives. However, it can also make it hard for a computer to delete files or folders inside the drive. In other words, you cannot simply format the SD card. Luckily, you can simply turn off this setting by meddling with the switch of the card. You can simply switch the security lock of the SD card into an “Unlock” setting. Once you do that, you will be able to remove the write protection setting of your SD card. Remember to always turn the switch upward to turn off the write protection setting

Using Windows Disk Management to Format the External Hard Drive

If you cannot use Windows automatic formatting method to complete the external hard drive format, then you can use Windows Disk Management to do so. To do that, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Run box by pressing Windows and R buttons at the same time.
  2. Afterward, you can type diskmgmt.msc on the Run box and press Enter to open Disk Management.
  3. Alternatively, you can press Windows and X buttons and head to Control Panel.
  4. Look for the “Administrative” section in the Control Panel search and proceed to click on the “Administrative Tools”.
  5. On the “Administrative Tools” window, you can double-click on “Computer Management”.
  6. Look for the option “Disk Management” on the left-hand menu and click on it.
  7. Locate your SD card or USB drive which was attached to the computer.
  8. Afterward, you can right-click on it and choose the option “Format”.
  9. Proceed with the on-screen instructions and make sure to uncheck the “Quick Format” option.

Disabling External Drive Write Protection in Registry

If you wish to change the settings in the system, you can try to do it from the registry. In order to perform this method to fix “Windows was unable to complete the format” error on SD card, USB drive, or CD, then you can follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Run box by pressing Windows and R buttons at the same time.
  2. Afterward, you can type regedit and press Enter.
  3. Type the registry key as follows: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies
  4. Proceed to locate the registry key WriteProtect under StorageDevicePolicies.If you cannot find it, then you can rename the file named DWORD to WriteProtect. In case there is no file named DWORD, then you can try to create one. Select the option (32-bit) value in the process of creating the DWORD file. Afterward, rename the new DWORD file as WriteProtect.
  5. Then, you can select the WriteProtect file and set its value to 0. This will automatically disable the Write Protection setting of your external hard drive.
  6. Once you close the Regedit window, reboot your Windows PC to save the changes.
  7. After the PC turns back on, you can try to format the SD card again. See if the formatting process can completely eliminate the data in your SD card.

Using Command Prompt to Complete the Format

Just like any other problems in the Windows system, you can use Command Prompt to modify the problematic settings. In order to use Command Prompt to complete the external drive format, you can follow the steps below.

  1. First, you can press Windows and X buttons at the same time.
  2. Afterward, you can select Command Prompt (Admin).
  3. Then, you can type the commands below and press Enter after you type each one.
diskpart

list disk
  1. Proceed to select the disk the external drive is located by typing this command below.
select disk (disk number)
  1. Next, type this chain of command below and press Enter after you type each one.
clean

create partition primary

format fs=FAT32

exit
  1. If you see any confirmation message after you type the command, proceed to choose Y and press Enter.
  2. At last, your external drive has been completely formatted.

Using SD Formatter to Completely Format External Hard Drive

If you are insistent on formatting the entire drive, then you can alternatively use SD Formatter. In order to find a way to proceed with the Windows complete disk format, you can follow the steps below.

  1. If you do not have SD Formatter, then you can try to download it first.
  2. Once the downloading process finishes, you can install the program.
  3. From the application, select the drive letter of your SD card or USB drive from the “Drive” menu.
  4. Look under the “Formatting” options and choose the “Overwrite format” option.
  5. On the confirmation pop-up message, click Yes.
  6. The formatting process will begin shortly after.
  7. Wait until the formatting process finishes.
  8. Once the process is complete, you can remove the SD card or USB drive from the computer.
  9. Insert it back again to the computer and see if the Windows system can finally read the external drive.

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