How To Format Any Flash Drive [Fix Corrupted And Write Protected USB Formatting Issue]

We use a removable flash drive for various reasons on an almost daily basis. It has long been the preferred way of many to carry digital data from one place to another and transfer it across different devices. Flash (USB) drives have a limited capacity which cannot be expanded internally beyond what’s available. So to make up room for new data, we perform flash drive formatting to clear out some or all of the existing storage files saved inside the pen drive. However, sometimes we run into a situation when formatting doesn’t go through as normal. In this guide, you’ll learn workarounds to format unformattable flash drives easily. In the following tutorial, I am going to explain two methods: one is to format corrupted flash drive and the other is to format write protected flash drive. You can apply the instructions below to format any flash drive regardless of the manufacturer or file system.

format unformattable usb drive

On occasions, when you try to format your USB drive or a memory card on a PC Windows, it may show the following error message on your device:

Windows was unable to complete the format

Reasons behind why flash drive formatting doesn’t complete might be the corrupted or virus infected drive or its write protected. Most users don’t know the main cause of this issue and start panicking immediately. But when you know the solution, it takes hardly a few minutes to fix unable to format flash drive issue.

How To Format Unformattable USB Flash Drive

First of all, check whether your flash drive is in proper working condition. If it’s not physically damaged, follow the steps below.

Method 1 – Format Corrupted USB Flash Drive

fix windows was unable to complete the format

This method is useful when your USB flash drive is in working condition but corrupted and thus cannot be formatted.

Step 1 – Connect your USB flash drive to PC Windows.

Step 2 – Run Command Prompt as Administrator. To do this, right-click on the Start button and select “command prompt (admin)” on the list. On latest Windows 10 versions, command prompt has been replaced with Windows PowerShell utility, so instead click on “Windows PowerShell (admin)”.

Step 3 – In prompt, type DISKPART and hit the enter key.

Step 4 – Next, type LIST DISK and enter.

Step 5 – You will now see the storage disk list as DISK 0 or DISK 1. There is also the disk size mentioned on the screen. Now type SELECT DISK 2 and hit enter. This could be different for you, but my flash drive is DISK 2 so I typed SELECT DISK 2.

command prompt

Step 6 – Once done, go to Control Panel > System and security.

Step 7 – Click on Create and format hard disk partitions.

Step 8 – Find and select the unallocated storage of the flash drive and right click on it.

disk management windows

Step 9 – Now select New Simple Volume and follow on-screen instructions.

Step 10 – Simply perform the flash drive formatting. This time it should go through without any issue.

Method 2 – Format Write Protected USB Flash Drive

fix disk is write protected

Some flash drives are write protected and you see “The disk is write protected” message when attempting to format it. In this case, the method below will be useful. Here are the steps:

Step 1 – Open Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt as Administrator.

Step 2 – Type diskpart and hit enter.

Step 3 – Then type list disk and press enter key.

Step 4 – Select the flash drive by typing select disk 2 in the command prompt. I typed Disk 2, it could be disk 1, 2 or Disk 3 for you, so select accordingly.

Step 5 – Now type attributes disk clear randomly and press enter key.

Step 6 – Format the flash drive which should work this time.

That’s all. Hopefully, the above methods helped in fixing flash drive formatting issue. If not, send your specific problem in the comments below or share your own solution with us.