How to Format Your Flash Drive if Windows Standard Tools Cannot Complete The Format

Read to know what to do if there is a USB drive format error: how to format it again and recover the lost data. To continue the topic of repairing USB flash drives that we brought up in the article “How to Repair a Flash Drive,” let us consider one more case involving a failure in the work of this data carrier.

Nowadays every PC user has a USB flash drive. Sometimes they need to be formatted, for example, when changing the file system, when encountering errors or just when you need to delete all files.

Usually, this operation is quick to perform, but sometimes you can see an error message saying: “Windows was unable to complete the format.”

Error: Windows was unable to complete the format

Let us have a look at several ways to perform formatting and repair the flash drive.

  1. Formatting With Windows Disk Management.
  2. Formatting With Command Prompt.
  3. Low-level formatting.

Formatting With Windows Disk Management

Often you can format a flash drive without turning to third-party utilities but by using Windows disk manager.

To launch it go to Windows Control Panel, then switch to “Administrative Tools” and click on “Computer Management”.

Windows Control Panel

Then go to Disk Management tab. In the list of all drives available you should see the flash drive (which you have trouble formatting). Right-click you mouse on the drive and select the menu line “Format.”

How to Format Your Flash Drive if Windows Standard Tools Cannot Complete The Format

Formatting With Command Prompt

In this case you should launch the command prompt with administrator rights.

Right-click your mouse on Start menu and select Command Prompt (Admin).

Command Prompt (Admin) Menu

Then enter a simple command: “format f:” (type in without quotation marks where “f:” is the drive letter).

Enter a command: format f:

Low-level formatting

An inscription on the flash drive case always specifies manufacturer name, memory size and sometimes the speed: USB 2.0 (3.0). In addition, every flash drive has its own specific controller and knowing about it, you can try to perform low-level formatting.

To determine the controller model, there are two parameters: VID and PID (vendor ID and Product ID, respectively). When you know VID and PID you can find a utility to repair and format your flash drive. Yet you should be careful: flash drives by one manufacturer and in one model range can still have different controllers!

After that, just search for a flash drive format utility (a sample query: “silicon power VID 13FE PID 3600”) using Yandex or Google. As you find the utility you need, launch it to format the flash drive (if you did everything right, there shouldn’t be any problems).

Yet before you start low-level formatting you should understand it means erasing all user information without a chance to restore it. That is, the part of the drive where data is contained will be cleaned completely. Standard Windows formatting does not do that but only applies quick formatting which is basically remarking your drive.

It is quite a common variant which can help you to repair flash drives by almost any manufacturer.

Author: Michael Miroshnichenko


  1. Alex 4 years ago

    I once had this very problem with my flash drive. Now I get it was a failure to buy a cheap one. I managed to format it via Command Prompt only. I guess one has to buy trustworthy brands like Kingston f. e. to minimize the risk of such problems.

  2. София Заочная 4 years ago

    It is very big problem, when you are single girl and you need to do something with your computer and others devices. I cannot every time call to my acquaintance, because I have problems every day. And it is good, that I can find needed information here. I can solve my fails by myself. I have never had this problem in my computer life, but from now, I would know key for it.

  3. Read how to format your flash drive if windows standard tools cannot complete the format. If you do have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our technical support service – we will be happy to help you.

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