5 Reasons & Solutions for “Windows cannot format this drive” Error

If you failed to format your storage device, such as a USB flash drive with an error – “Windows cannot format this drive”, you can read this article. Here we will expose 5 main reasons and relevant solutions of this error.

To format a drive, you can right click on it and choose “Format” option from the context menu. Later, choose your desired file system and click “Start”. In general, the formatting will start and complete automatically. But, at times, you may come across an error message – “Windows cannot format this drive”, like the following screenshot.

 "Windows cannot format this drive" Error

Now, in the followings, we will look at this error message to reveal 5 reasons for it as well as corresponding solutions.

1. Stop All Other Programs

As the error message suggests, there are chances that some other programs may be using the drive when formatting, which lead to formatting failure. For example, you have opened a Word document stored in this drive. Of course, formatting will fail. In this case, you ought to stop all other programs. Next, you can try to format the drive again.

2. Virus Infection

If you frequently connect your storage drive to various computers, the drive is very likely to be virus-infected. The viruses can make your drive malfunction and even get destroyed thoroughly. Therefore, if you failed to format the drive and got the error, you can suspect if the drive is virus-infected. In this situation, you need to run antivirus software on the drive. After that, you can retry to format it.

3. Bad Sectors

Sectors are the smallest unite in hard drive or USB drive for data storing. In other words, data is actually stored in sectors on the drive. If a sector becomes bad, namely damaged, not only will the files on this sector become inaccessible, like corrupt PST file on bad sectors, but also the drive will function improperly, such as drive cannot be formatted. Under this circumstance, you can launch CHKDSK to scan and repair the drive first and then try disk formatting again.

4. Storage Device Damage

In addition, provided that the storage drive is damaged physically, the drive can be inaccessible or operates wrongly as well. Then, your computer will be unable to format the drive, too. In this situation, you need to resort to relevant experts to repair or replace the corrupted components to restore it. Then, you can format it.

5. Write-protected

Moreover, Windows cannot format a storage drive which is write-protected. For instance, you’ve accidentally turn on the write-protect switch. Then, when trying to format it, you will receive the “Windows cannot format this drive” error. In this scenario, you have to firstly disable the write-protection. Then, attempt to format it again.

6. Failed Formatting Tool

Now that you receive this error when trying to format a storage drive from the “Properties” option, you can suspect that the culprit is the failed formatting tool. So, you can try the following two means to force format a drive.

1) Disk Management

First off, search “diskmgmt.msc” in “Start Menu” and press “Enter” key. Then in the “Disk Management” window, locate the drive and right click on it. Next, in the context menu, choose “Format”.

2) Command Prompt

To begin with, run “cmd” as administrator. Then, in the “Command Prompt”, type the following command lines – “diskpart” > “list disk” > “list volume” > “select volume <no>” and “format”.

Author Introduction:

Shirley Zhang is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including repair mdf and outlook repair software products. For more information visit www.datanumen.com