How To Fix “Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

Data security is something businesses and people have learnt to take seriously today. If you have been trying to complete a format for your disk or external drive and you can’t because of a particular error, you will most likely begin to worry about the process.

The “Windows was unable to complete the format” error should, however, not cause you any alarm. It will be possible and easy to complete a quick format recovery by following this user guide.

You May probably be wondering what could be some of the likely causes of this error. Let’s look at some of the likely causes. 

Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format

Possible Reasons For “Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

There are 5 most likely causes of this problem occurring in many Windows computers. Although you can quickly fix the error, losing data could just be another likely event. Check out how to recover data after quick format in case you lose data in the process and want to attempt recovery.

On very rare occasions, malware can contribute to this error. See some of the possible reasons below.

  • The Drive is Physically Damaged 

Physical damage to the drive is a major culprit that can easily contribute to disk disability. Generally, drives have a short lifespan which also depends on their conditions of use.

Even when no direct damage is visible, there are more chances that the drive could be suffering from several internal damages. Most of the drives in this condition will often show this error

  • The Drive is Empty

Empty drives do not have any content and therefore they cannot be formatted. If you are trying to format an empty drive, you will most likely get this error message. This is because Windows cannot format an empty drive!

  • The Drive is Protected 

It is not easy to format a disk or storage device with write protection. This is because the protection rights cannot allow you to format it. As a result, you will keep getting this error. If your Windows keeps showing “The disk is write-protected.

Remove the write-protection or use another disk,” then disk write protection could be protecting your drive against disk formatting.

  • Malware infection 

On the other hand, attackers that keep targeting USB sticks are likely to spread malware. These malware have more chances of putting your drive out of service. They also make it very difficult to recover data from the internal drive.

We have mentioned just a few examples of the common reasons behind the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error.

You should note that there are chances that your device could be facing more significant problems than the ones we have shared. If you believe this could be the case, please try the methods below to troubleshoot the problem and save money and the drive. 

Method 1: Scan For Malware

From our list of reasons, malware takes a definite part. If you feel the reason behind the problem is a malware infection on your computer, attempt to scan the pc while the drive is connected. This troubleshooting will likely wipe out the malware preventing you from formatting the internal hard drive. It is very easy to perform a simple disk scan.

However, if you need help, it is advisable to take a short break. The sign, however, shows that you may need a professional-grade antivirus for general antivirus purposes.

In this case, a versatile data recovery app just in case this error leads to data loss. 
If you already have these preparations in place, proceed as follows.

Step 1: Begin by plugging the affected drive into the computer

Step 2: Launch settings by licking the gear icon available on the Start menu. 

Step 3: Proceed by clicking on the “Update & Security” tile and switch to the “Windows Security” tab appearing in the left pane

Step 4: Click “Open Windows Security” followed by “Virus & threat protection” and the “Scan options.” 

Step 5: Choose “Custom scan” and tap “Scan now” to start the scanning process.

Step 6: At this step, select the correct drive and tap “Select Folder” to begin the scan.

Step 7: You should then follow the prompts appearing on your screen and remove any malicious files detected on the drive.

Once you finish this process, rerun the format then check if the “Windows was unable to complete the format” error appears again. If it goes away and the disk format is successful, then the problem is resolved. However, if the error persists, try the next method.

How To Fix “Windows Was Unable To Complete The Format” Error

Method 2: Check And Fix Disk Errors

Your disk may not have malware but still remains unrecoverable through disk formatting. Your drive could be facing errors leading to continuous failures in the formatting process. To proceed and fix the errors on Windows 10, follow the steps below with the best data recovery software.

Step 1: Launch “File Explorer” from the panel and click “This PC.” 

Step 2: Right-click on the drive with the formatting error and select “Properties.” 

Step 3: On the new window that pops up, switch to the “Tools” tab.

Step 4: Move to the Error-checking section and click the “Check” button.

Step 5: In the new window that appears, click “Repair drive.” This will start the scanning process. 

As the repair process runs, Windows 10 will fix any errors on the drive. You can then proceed to check if your files are intact at the end of the process. Otherwise, use Disk Drill by Cleverfiles to seamlessly fix the formatting error. The software will also help you recover lost data.

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Method 3: Use Command Prompt

Disk Drill is a good idea, however, if it is also a good idea to explore other options to find out which one works for your case best. Command prompt is just another way to fix the disk formatting error. Let’s look at the step-by-step process. 

Step 1: Tap “Windows + R” keys simultaneously. This will highlight the Run utility.

Step 2: Tap “cmd” then “Ctrl + shift + Enter+ keys. This will launch the command prompt. The prompt, however, comes with administrative permissions. 

Step 3: If you are prompted by the User Account Control (UAC), lick “Yes” to give permission as an administrator. Otherwise, get help from your admin. 

Step 4: Finally type “Format C:/fs:nts” and adjust as per the instructions and hit Enter. As the command runs, the problems causing the errors should be fixed.