How to Fix the 'Windows was Unable to Complete the Format' Error

This guide offers solutions to fix the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error, including detailed explanations of the problem's causes, step-by-step solutions, software recommendations, FAQs, and helpful tips.

Nene Aly

By Nene Aly / Updated on March 4, 2024

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About the Problem

If you've ever encountered the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error when attempting to format a storage device on your computer, you're not alone. This frustrating issue can prevent you from accessing or using specific drives, USBs, or memory cards. Understanding the causes of this problem and finding effective solutions is crucial to regain control over your storage devices.

Potential Causes of the Error

There are various potential causes behind the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error. Some of the common ones include:

  • A corrupted or damaged storage device
  • Issues with the file system
  • Presence of a write protection restriction

Possible Solutions

Fortunately, there are several solutions that may help you resolve the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error. Below are three effective methods:

Solution 1: Using Disk Management

1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog box.2. Type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.3. Find the drive that shows the error and right-click on it.4. Select 'Format' from the drop-down menu.5. Choose the desired file system format (e.g., FAT32, NTFS).6. Click 'OK' to start the formatting process.

Solution 2: Using Command Prompt

1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog box.2. Type cmd and press Enter to open Command Prompt.3. Type format x: (replace 'x' with the drive letter of the device) and press Enter.4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the formatting.

Solution 3: Using Third-Party Software

1. Download and install a reliable third-party formatting tool like 'MyRecover'.2. Launch the software and select the desired storage device.3. Click on 'Format' and choose the file system format.4. Follow the on-screen instructions to format the device.


An excellent software option to consider is 'MyRecover.' This powerful tool provides a user-friendly interface, supports various file system formats, and offers advanced partition management features. It also allows you to resize, merge, or clone partitions effortlessly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How can I fix the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error on a USB drive?

A: To resolve this issue on a USB drive, you can try using Disk Management or Command Prompt to format the drive. If these methods fail, using third-party software like 'MyRecover' may be the best solution.

Q: Why does my SD card display the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error?

A: The error may occur on an SD card due to corruption or issues with the file system. Attempting to format the card using Disk Management, Command Prompt, or third-party software can help resolve the issue.

Q: Is it possible to recover data from a storage device displaying the 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error?

A: In most cases, formatting a storage device erases all data on it. However, you can try using data recovery software like 'MyRecover' to retrieve your files before attempting to format the device.

Q: Can I format a hard drive without losing data?

A: Formatting a hard drive will erase all data stored on it. To avoid data loss, it's crucial to back up your important files before formatting the drive.

Key Tech Terms

1. File System

The file system is the method and structure used by an operating system to organize and manage files on a storage device. Common file system formats include FAT32 and NTFS.

2. Disk Management

Disk Management is a Windows utility that allows users to manage and modify disk drives, partitions, and volumes on their computer.

3. Command Prompt

Command Prompt is a command-line interpreter in Windows that enables users to execute commands and perform various tasks using text-based commands.

Helpful Tips

  • Always create backups of your important files before attempting to format any storage device.
  • Ensure that the storage device you are trying to format is not write-protected.
  • If formatting fails multiple times, the storage device may be irreparable. Consider replacing it.


The 'Windows was unable to complete the format' error can be frustrating, but with the solutions provided in this guide, you can overcome this issue and regain control over your storage devices. Follow the step-by-step instructions, consider the software recommendation, and remember the tips to ensure a successful resolution to this problem. By understanding the causes and having the necessary tools, you can confidently format your storage devices without encountering this error again.

Nene Aly
Nene Aly · Editor