How Do You Fix External Hard Drive Won’t Format in Windows 11/10/8/7?

If your external hard drive won’t format or you have received “the format did not complete successfully” when you format your external hard drive, this post will help you to solve the problem with several practical ways.


By Cherry / Updated on October 20, 2023

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“My external hard drive won’t format”

“I have a 1TB Seagate external hard drive and when I plug it in, it says it needs to be formatted. Windows is unable to complete the format. can't run chkdsk, it's a RAW format. Can't create an NTFS partition because the Seagate external hard drive cannot format. Help me please!”

Windows was unable to complete the formatting

Many users have met the external hard drive won’t format problem when they try to format their external HDD/SSD, a Micro SD card, USB flash drive, pen drive, etc. You may get the error messages “the format did not complete successfully” or  “Windows was unable to complete the format ” .

Why is an external hard drive not formatting?

General speaking, external hard drive won’t format could be caused by the following factors:

Malware or virus infection
Bad sectors
Missing or damaged DLL, SYS, or EXE files
Damaged hard drive partition
Disk write protection
Incorrect drive format
Incompatible or outdated hardware drivers or BIOS, etc.

If the aforementioned problem occurs, you may meet external hard drive won't format notices, such as:
◤ Disk is not formatted
◤ You must format the disk in drive F: before you can use it
◤ This volume does not include a recognized file system

In such cases, many people would prefer to employ the CHKDSK to remedy such issues. However, when you run chkdsk, you may receive the error that CHKDSK reports RAW.

Fortunately, in this article, we will provide you with other two effective ways to solve the Seagate, WD, or other brands' external hard drive not formatted problem.

How do I fix my external hard drive that won’t format?

Now, let's see how to resolve "cannot format external hard drive" with CMD commands and a professional third-party tool.

Method 1. Force format external hard drive with CMD

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive (HDD/SSD, USB drive, or other devices) that you need to format to your PC.

Step 2. Press "Win + R" to open the "Run" dialog, type "cmd", and hit "Enter" to open Command Prompt as Administrator.

Step 3. Now, you need to type the following commands one by one, and press "Enter" after each. And make sure you type the correct orders and select the target disk because the operations cannot undo once it's been executed.

list disk (display all disks on your computer)
select disk 1 (1 is the drive number of the target disk)
clean (This order will erase all data on the disk)
create partition primary
format fs=fat32 quick or format fs=ntfs quick
assign letter F: (You can replace F with another letter based on your needs)


Finally, you should type: exit and hit Enter to finish the process.

Method 2. Force format external hard drive with free partition manager

If you still cannot format the external hard drive through CMD, it is recommended to try a free partition manager -- AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Compared with Windows built-in formatting tools, it has fewer limitations and the following advantages:

★ Format large hard drive (over 32GB) to the FAT32 file system;
★ Format hard drive to Ext4/Ext3/Ext2 under Windows environment;
★ Format internal hard drive to exFAT with ease;
★ Force format RAW, write-protected, encrypted, or corrupted hard drive successfully.

Therefore, when the external hard drive won’t format to FAT32 or external hard drive won’t format to NTFS, you can free download the AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, and force format the external hard drive within 3 steps.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant on your Windows 11/10/8/7 PC. You will see all disks on your computer in the main interface. You can see the unable to format external hard drive raw marked as "Unformatted" here. Right-click it and select "Format Partition". 

Format Raw Partition

Step 2. Then, it will pop up the Format partition window where you can set up the details. Choose a file system you need in the list, and click "OK".

Format Raw To NTFS

Step 3. Finally, click "Apply"-> "Proceed" to execute the whole progress.


Generally, the three steps will format your external hard drive. If it still failed, you can try to use the Wipe Hard Drive of AOMEI Partition Assistant to help you solve your problem.

To sum up

AOMEI Partition Assistant is such a great format tool that can solve the "external hard drive won’t format" problem easily. It also can help you check bad sectors, test disks, and so on.

You can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to get more advanced features like cloning MBR disk to GPT without data loss, recovering lost files, allocating free space from C to D drive, converting disk between MBR and GPT without deleting volumes, etc for better disk management.

Cherry · Staff Editor
Cherry is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore, hard disk & partitions management, cloud files transfer, website & database backup and so on for AOMEI. She enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, cooking, reading and so on. She takes most of time with her family when she is not working.