[Solved] Fix Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format

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You can follow this guide if you are getting the Windows was unable to complete the format error. This error occurs if the disk drive you want to format has not been appropriately formatted before. Sometimes, the problem may be the disk you want to format itself. If the disk is a removable device, try using it on other computers. You can also try to connect it to different ports on the same device and check if the Windows was unable to complete the format error is still there.

How to Solve Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format

If any of these basic methods don’t work, you can follow the ways given below:

Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format
Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format

Method #1

Restart your computer and try to format it once again. This might seem too stupid of an idea but might work if your PC had a recent driver update. The fix may be as simple as that. You can also try manually updating the drivers on your PC manually. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Open Windows Explorer.
  • In the left menu, right click on This PC and select Manage. This action requires administrator privileges and thus make sure you are logged in as admin.
  • Select Device Manager from the left menu.
Device Manager
Device Manager
  • Right-click on your PC name and choose Scan for hardware changes.
  • Expand the Disk Drives menu by click on the arrow next to it.
  • Right-click on the disk that you want to format and click on Update driver.
  • Select Search automatically for updates for updated driver software. You need to be connected to an internet connection for this step to work.
  • Once the process has finished, restart your PC and see if the Windows was unable to complete the format error is gone.

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Method #2

If the above method doesn’t work and you’re still getting the Windows was unable to complete the format error, the problem may be caused due to an incomplete format previously. This method should be done only if you have good knowledge about computers. If you are unable to see the connected device in This PC in Windows Explorer, follow these steps:

  • Launch Windows Explorer.
  • In the left menu, right click on This PC and select Manage. This action requires administrator privileges and thus make sure you are logged in as admin.
  • Select Disk Management from the left menu.
Disk Management
Disk Management
  • On the bottom of the window, try finding your disk by either identifying the drive letter assigned to your drive or by its size. This step is crucial as if you select the wrong drive; you may lose all your data. Proceed with caution.
  • Once you have chosen the drive, right click on it and select Format. This process might take some time depending on the size of the drive.

After you have completed the above steps, first try accessing your drive and see if it gives any errors. Now, try formatting the drive usually and see if you get the Windows was unable to complete the format error.

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Method #3

This technique is a direct follow up to the above method. If you are getting the Windows was unable to complete the format error, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have completed all the steps given in Method 2.
  2. In the Disk management window itself, again right click on your drive.
  3. Right click on it and select Delete Volume.
  4. Press Yes on the prompt that pops up.
  5. Right-click the drive again and select New Simple Volume.
  6. This should launch the New Simple Volume Wizard.
  7. Click next to the first three steps.
  8. In the fourth step, select the File system type you want to format your drive into. You can assign a new Name to your drive by typing it into the Volume label field. DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING ELSE.
  9. Untick Perform a quick format checkbox and press next.
  10. Press Finish.

This process might take some time depending on the size of the drive.

Try formatting your drive again and see if you get the error. If you get the Windows was unable to complete the format error at this point, it is terrible news. This means that most probably your drive has a mechanical fault (hardware problem). There is nothing that can be done and you will have to buy a new drive.

Final Words | Pro Tip

It is always said that prevention is better than cure. Thus, the best method to avoid the Windows was unable to complete the format error is to follow some of these recommendations:

  1. Always safely remove removable devices before unplugging them physically from the ports. To do this, all you need to do is right-click on the connected devices and select Safely remove the device.
  2. Don’t unplug a removable device if it’s currently in use. You can’t remove such devices as Windows won’t allow it to be removed safely as they are “Currently in use.” To remove such a device carefully, make sure you close all applications that may be using it and try Safely removing it again. As a last resort, you can perform a Shut Down and remove it after the PC is off.
  3. Never keep any storage device or any electronic device near magnets or magnetic fields.
  4. Make sure to keep the device away from extreme temperatures and moisture.
  5. Make sure to close the cap on the ends of USB devices to protect it from dust. It is best if you keep devices in cases to protect them from dust and accidental drops.

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