Can't Format Flash Drive - fix it in 6 ways free

Last updated on 11/8/2020

windows is unable to complete the format A photo telling the error - Windows was unable to format removable usb if you format usb flash drive in Windows 10/8/7

Unable to format usb write protected Format tool is unable to format usb telling device media is write protected

When the usb is damaged or not working properly, or when users have previously set up write protection on the usb, it would be unable to be formatted. You know something worse may happen; flash drive cannot be formatted nor deleted if you perform a folder deletion.

The Causes - Why unable to format usb drive

Don't feel bizarre if your usb flash drive can't be formatted in Windows 10/8/7 since this error is brought by several factors when your usb is...

  1. Usb is in write protection, or locked
  2. MBR is damaged on usb
  3. USB is labeled readonly or its File/folder is labeled as read-only
  4. Flash drive has been modified by virus
  5. Flash drive physical damages

Note: Disabling write protection attribute shall be done before the formatting since any readonly file or folder would make the whole formatting failed. However you need to face the fact that it's not the only factor that Windows was unable to format usb since physical damages, bad chips, logical damages, damaged file system, incorrect registry settings for usb would lead to a format failure on flash drive.

Fixing usb format failure in 6 ways - [3 most efficient]

Note: you need to turn off the write protection lock and remove readonly attribute before formatting usb drive and the following first 2 methods would show you how to remove them.

#1 - Remove write protection from usb flash drive

remove write protection by write protect switch

Turn off the write protection switch on the usb if there is a lock on your usb. No button? Try the following solutions

recommendAlso read: 10 free tricks to remove usb drive write protection

#2 - Remove readonly from flash drive using cmd - [efficient]hot

Video - how to remove write protected pendrive

This following cmd would remove readonly attribute by the following steps.

  • Launch cmd, type 'diskpart', and press the enter button on your keyboard
  • Type 'list disk'
  • Type 'select disk *' (you need to type the actual number of your usb stick that shows in your computer)
  • Type 'attributes disk clear readonly'

remove write protection using cmd

#3 - Format USB with Rufus - [efficient]hot

Formatting usb with Rufus would mostly work when your usb can't be formatted due to unknown reasons.

Rufus download url: https://github.com/pbatard/rufus/releases/download/v3.11/rufus-3.11.exe

If the above link does not work, be free to get the latest download link at https://rufus.ie/

format with rufusRufus to format usb that cannot be formatted

recommendAlso recommend: 8 free usb format tools

#4 - Format USB using cmd - [efficient]hot

This formatting is different that built with clean inside of the steps. Watch it here

cmd to format samsung sd

This is operated by cmd and you may replace #6 'format fs=ntfs quick' with 'format fs=fat32 quick' instead.

  • Launch cmd and type 'diskpart'
  • Type 'list disk'
  • Type 'select disk *'
  • Type 'clean'
  • Type 'create partition primary'
  • Type 'format fs=ntfs quick'

This is another efficient way of formatting a usb that is cannot be formatted in other ordinary methods.

#5 - Repair usb with cmd chkdsk

Type "chkdsk /X /f USB drive letter", for example "chkdsk /X /f H", when H is the drive letter of your flash stick.

Run cmd instruction

#6 - Repair usb drive by Windows error-checking tool

How to open it? => 'This PC' -> 'Right click flash drive' -> 'Properties'

repair damaged media

recommendRecommend: 8 Free Ways to Repair Corrupted USB Pen Drive

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