- The USB drive we are using is writer-protected
- The USB drive has some kind of virus or malware issue
- The USB drive or flash drive is physically damaged
- There is an error in the USB port of the computer
- The drive is not properly connected to the USB port and it disconnects
- There is a specific error in Windows
Considering that these are usually the most frequent problems, We can take a series of measures to solve the error on the computer and not go any further. Frequent solutions that you should take into account whenever the message appears and before you become alarmed. It has a solution, it is simple and it is not usually serious.
How to solve
There are a series of steps tips that we can follow to solve the message “Windows could not complete the format”. We can check that the USB drive is not damaged, we can check that it is correctly connected to the computer, we can check the drivers or updates or we can format it dghe manually to solve any possible errors that the device is having.
Check the USB connector
The first thing we should do is check the USB connector of our computer. We must first check that the pendrive or device is well connected and that it does not disconnect continuously causing this error to appear. We can also try another USB port on the computer to see if it is failing. Or we can try on another computer if we have a laptop, for example, or any other type of device that we have at home and that is compatible.
Try on another computer to find out where the error is. It may not be a problem with your computer but the drive is protected or has a virus. There may be malware or it may be physically damaged so we will not be able to access the content.
Update Windows or check for updates
Another of the main solutions that we must take into account is to update Windows. Check for a recent operating system update. It is likely that if our equipment is outdated we may experience problems…
In that case, the steps we must follow are simple because we will only have to go to the Windows Update section to check if there is something pending… We simply go to the configuration of our Windows computer and here we look for the “Update and security” section and we will see that At the top of the screen there is a button that indicates “Search for updates”. We must tap on this button to see what are the pending updates and we must update if one is available, for example. You will see a button or text that says “download and install” and you must follow the configuration steps to complete the process, which we will normally confirm by restarting the computer.
In addition, we can also see the “update history” that allows us to see all the times that the equipment has undergone changes: what version, on what date and what is new. This will allow us to see where the error started, for example.
Format the USB
If none of the above works, we can format the USB. We can format to eliminate any problem that there is in it. For example, that there are viruses or malware or simply that the format is not compatible. In this case, we must take into account the format that we are going to choose and then format the disk to check if this solves any compatibility problems or errors.
What to consider: Formats
Before formatting the USB we must take into account that there are different file formats among which we can choose when formatting. NFTS, FAT32 and exFAT. Each one has a series of characteristics and it is convenient to know how to differentiate between them. NFTS is the largest and has no file limits, but is mostly supported by Windows. It is one of the most advanced, it is fast and allows us to encrypt the content, but it does not work on many devices such as phones, televisions or consoles and it can cause writing problems on systems such as macOS or Linux.
|FAT32||Less than 4GB||all kinds of devices|
|exFAT||Unlimited||all kinds of devices|
|Ext2, Ext3||Less than 16GB||GNU/Linux|
Also among the most popular are FAT32 and exFAT, both compatible with all types of devices and the second being an evolution of the first with fewer limitations and great compatibility between devices. It has great speed, allows you to store documents of several gigabytes and generally we have no problem if it is a USB that we are going to use in different operating systems or devices.
Format the USB
Once it has become clear to us what formats there are, we must know how to format a flash drive or format a USB but it will only take a few minutes and we can do it from any computer. In Windows, in macOS… What we will do is delete all content in it and give it a new file system which can fix the aforementioned “Windows was unable to complete the format” error.
In Windows the steps we must follow are:
- Insert the USB flash drive into your computer
- Go to “This team”
- Find the USB drive you want to format
- Right click on it
- Click on “Format”
In macOS we can also do it in a few minutes:
- Open the Applications directory on the Mac computer
- Go to the “Utilities” section
- Choose “Disk Utility” option and open it
- You will see a window where is the unit that we want to format
- Select the disk that interests us
- Check the button “Erase”
- Choose the type of format among those available
Keep in mind that there are formats that are only compatible with Mac computers, so it is not advisable if we are going to use USB in other devices.