Solved: Can't Format Drive in Disk Management

Some users find they can’t format drive in Disk Management, some receive error and some see greyed out format option. In this post, you’ll learn how to format drive in other ways.


By Lucas / Updated on May 12, 2023

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When we need to empty an internal hard drive or external disk, most people today employ the disk formatting technique to clear out disk partition files.

However, some people experience difficulties during the procedure. When users try to format a disk, Windows offers a prompting that reads "Windows was unable to finish the format" or "Windows was unable to complete the format".

If you also meet this issue, then this post will give you a hand to solve the problem.

Why can’t format drive in Disk Management?

Normally, users will open Disk Management to change the partition settings, and formatting is almost the most frequently-used option in the menu. Why Windows won't format hard drive? When you try to format the hard disk and get the "Windows Cannot Format This Drive" error, you can't pinpoint a single symptom. Many unresolved faults accumulate and finally harm the hard disk, rendering it unreadable and unformattable.

1. Your drive is infected with virus or malware
A virus assault is the most likely cause of your hard drive's odd behavior. It might have serious ramifications for the integrity of the hardware and the data stored on it, rendering your disk unformattable. The USB flash drive is typically carried and used on many computers, which is prone to becoming infected with a virus and harming the drive itself. Furthermore, connecting your PC with a defective USB can harm your computer's internal disk.

2. Physical damage
If the drive sustains physical damage, it is likely to stop working properly, abort the formatting operation, or not turn on at all.

3. There are bad sectors on your drive
The sector of a drive is the segment that keeps a defined amount of accessible data. It is also the section of the computer where the operating system acts on individual blocks of data that are scattered over numerous levels of sectors. It is only normal that if something bad happens to the disk's sectors, it would misbehave and maybe trigger the "Windows was unable to complete the format" issue. Bad sectors can arise as a result of the hard disk's rigidity, needless defragmentation, and casual use on many PCs.

4. Write-protected drive
Formatting is a type of writing operation, hence Windows cannot format a write-protected drive. As a result, you must first remove the write protection before formatting the disk.

4 ways to format a drive

Although Disk Management is a handy tool, there are many other ways to format a drive. In this part, we’ll show you some other ways to format a drive.

Way 1. Format drive using CMD

The Command prompt service is the backdoor platform on which your Windows operating system runs, and it also allows you to execute complicated administrative activities that are not available in a typical setting. The command prompt has the complete ability to format any disk. When Disk Management cannot format a disk ordinarily, use these instructions to force format it using Command Prompt.

Step 1. Enter cmd prompt in the search bar of the taskbar and run it as an administrator.

Type CMD

Step 2. Type “diskpart” from the keyboard and hit the Enter key. The Diskpart mode will open.

Step 3. Type “List Disk” and press enter, you will now be able to view all the available drives on the system.

Step 4. Enter “Select Disk x” (X is the number of the target drive) or any drive of your choice and then enter “Clean.”

Step 5. After cmd cleans your drive, insert the command “create partition primary.”

Step 6. Type and enter “format fs=fat32 quick” or “format fs=ntfs quick” to reset the drive to your desired file system.

Step 7. Assign a letter to the disk by typing a letter. (e.g: F:)

Format drive in CMD

Your drive will be formatted, now exit MS-DOS and use the freshly minted drive.

Way 2. Format drive via File Explorer

File Explorer can also assist you format storage devices. If the Disk Management format fails, try using this program to finish the procedure.

Step 1. Open File Explorer by clicking Windows and E keys.

Step 2. Click This PC in the left pane, and then move to the right section of the window. Right-click on the target drive and tap Format.

Format drive in File Explorer

Step 3. In the prompted window, choose a file system from the given options and click Start.

Way 3. Remove write-protection and format drive

You can remove write protection at first, then try Disk Management to format the drive again.

Step 1. Run Command Prompt as an administrator in the search box.

Step 2. Then type and execute the commands below.

• diskpart
• list disk
• select disk n
• attributes disk clear readonly

Remove Write-protection via CMD

Way 4. Format drive via an alternative tool

Another choice to format drive is to turn to Disk Management alternative tool AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. It’s a free disk and drive manager for Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7/XP system. The disk format feature in this tool supports FAT32, NTFS, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, and exFAT file systems, so you can not only format your PC drive, but other drives can also be formatted according to your needs.

What’s more, it has many other practical features to help you manage your drives like merging partitions, resizing partitions, test drive speed, defragging HDD…

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Note: If you want to format the drive from FAT32 to NTFS or vice versa, you can choose NTFS to FAT32 Converter function which can change the file system without losing data.

Step 1. Download this freeware, install and run it. In the main interface, right-click the target drive and select “Format Partition”.

Format partition

Step 2. In this small window, specify the file system of the drive based on your own demand and click “OK”.

Choose file system

Step 3. Preview the operation. Then, click “Apply” and “Proceed” to perform it.


Tip: This tool can also format BitLocker drive without password.


If you find you can't format drive in Disk Management, then there are 4 other solutions for you. AOMEI Partition Assistant is a reliable tool for Windows users, if you upgrade to the Professional Edition, you’ll unlock more useful utilities, such as moving apps and folders to release more space, cloning disk, converting partition type without data loss, etc. And there is the Server Edition for Windows Server users to conveniently manage Server devices.

Lucas · Staff Editor
I prefer peaceful and quiet life during vacation,but sometimes I watch football match if my favorite club performs brilliantly in that season. And I love reading, painting and calligraphy, thus I send my friends festival handwriting cards every year.