Solved: How do I fix “Windows was unable to complete the format” for SD card?

Problem Symptom: Many users reported the problem related to can’t format the SD card or Micro SD card using Windows or Android for unknown reasons. Windows was unable to complete the format SD card or not visible in File Explorer. This SD card format error was found to be more happen to SanDisk SD cards especially SanDisk 64GB Micro SD cards.

  • Windows cannot format the SD card completely. How do I format the SD card?
  • What is wrong with SD card when PC can’t format it?
  • How can you fix a micro SD card which is unable to format or delete files?
  • Why can’t I format SD card on computer, camera, or phone?
  • SD card wont format and apparently it has no free space or used space and I’m just so stressed as it was an expensive sd and it has data on it.
  • SD card suddenly popped out a message said I need to format my device before I can use it. And the SD card became raw and show 0 byte. How can I repair the raw SD card and recover data from it?

Solved: How do I fix "Windows was unable to complete the format" for SD card?

Follow the below solution steps to resolve the “Windows was unable to complete the format” problem. All the methods can be used for all brands of SD cards such as SanDisk, Kingston, Sony, and Transcend, etc; works on all formats of SD cards such as Micro SD, SD, SDHC, and SDXC.

Content Summary

Potential Causes
Pre-check
Solution 1: Remove write protection using diskpart command
Solution 2: Format SD card using command prompt
Solution 3: Format SD card using disk management console
Solution 4: Change drive letter and paths of the SD card
Solution 5: Check and repair bad sectors
Solution 6: Reinstall the drivers
Solution 7: Recreate volume for SD card
Solution 8: Force format SD card with Rufus
Solution 9: Replace a new SD card

Potential Causes

The reasons are various and most user reported can’t format SD card due to the following SD card issues.

  • SD card is write-protected.
  • Bad sectors on the SD card.
  • System file errors or corruption on the SD card.
  • Virus or malware infection.
  • SD card is severely damaged.
  • Unsupported file system.
  • SD card is physically damage.
  • The file and folder inside SD card is still open and is in use.
  • SD card and SD card slot or adapter are in poor condition or connection is not proper.

Pre-check

  • Make sure you have close the file and folder.
  • Check and adjust the SD card and SD card slot/adaptor to keep them in good contact.
  • Disable write protection or unlock by changing the direction of slider at the corner of SD card.

Disable write protection or lock by changing the direction of slider at the corner of SD card.

Solution 1: Remove write protection using diskpart command

Step 1: Type cmd in the search box next to the Start button.

Step 2: Right-click on Command Prompt to choose Run as administrator. A UAC or User Account Control Box will show up, click Yes.

Step 3: Type diskpart in the command prompt to open the DISKPART utility.

Step 4: Type list disk in the command prompt.

Step 5: Type select disk n in the command prompt, replace n with the disk number which is having the write-protection partition.

Step 6: Type attributes disk clear read-only in the command prompt.

Step 7: Type exit to close the command prompt windows after message Diskpart attributes cleared successfully shown.

Step 8: Try to format the SD card again.

Remove write protection using diskpart command

Solution 2: Format SD card using command prompt

Step 1: Type cmd in the search box next to the Start button.

Step 2: Right-click on Command Prompt to choose Run as administrator. A UAC or User Account Control Box will show up, click Yes.

Step 3: Type diskpart in the command prompt to open the DISKPART utility.

Step 4: Type list disk in the command prompt.

Step 5: Type select disk n in the command prompt, replace n with the exact drive number of your SD card.

Step 6: Type list partition in the command prompt.

Step 7: Type select partition n in the command prompt, replace n with the partition number.

Step 8: Type clean to run the clean utility to wipe all data on the SD card so make sure you saved a copy or backup of the card data.

Step 9: Type create partition primary to create a new partition on the SD card.

Step 10: Type active to make the SD card partition activate.

Step 11: Type format fs=ntfs quick or format fs=fat32 quick in the command prompt.

Note: It is not advisable to format the raw SD card using the FAT32 format command as there are chances that it fails. You are not allowed to format a partition over 32GB to the FAT32 file system as well.

Step 12:Type assign letter = F

Step 13: Type exit to close the command prompt windows after message 100 percent completed shown.

Format SD card using command prompt

Solution 3: Format SD card using disk management console

Step 1: Press the Windows logo key + R at the same time to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2: Type diskmgmt.msc in the box and click OK to open the Disk Management console.

Step 3: Locate the partition on the SD that you wish to format. After choosing, right-click on it and select the Format option from the context menu.

Locate the partition on the SD that you wish to format. After choosing, right-click on it and select the Format option from the context menu.

Step 4: Select the NTFS option from the File system drop-down box and check the Quick Format option. Optionally, you can select the Default allocation size option from the Allocation unit size drop-down box. Click on the OK button.

Select the NTFS option from the File system drop-down box and check the Quick Format option. Optionally, you can select the Default allocation size option from the Allocation unit size drop-down box. Click on the OK button.

Step 5: Click on the OK button again to continue.

Click on the OK button again to continue.

Solution 4: Change drive letter and paths of the SD card

Step 1: Press the Windows logo key + R at the same time to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2: Type diskmgmt.msc in the box and click OK to open the Disk Management console.

Step 3: Locate the partition on the SD that you wish to format. After choosing, right-click on it and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths option from the context menu.

Locate the partition on the SD that you wish to format. After choosing, right-click on it and select the Change Drive Letter and Paths option from the context menu.

Step 4: Select a new drive letter for your SD card and click the OK button to confirm.

Select a new drive letter for your SD card and click the OK button to confirm.

Solution 5: Check and repair bad sectors

Step 1: Type cmd in the search box next to the Start button.

Step 2: Right-click on Command Prompt to choose Run as administrator. A UAC or User Account Control Box will show up, click Yes.

Step 3: Type chkdsk E: /f /r /x in the command prompt, replace E with your SD card’s drive letter.

Step 4: Wait for the process to complete, process time might vary based on the size of the SD card. It is not recommended to interrupt the CHKDSK process because the disk integrity after the interruption is not guaranteed.

Step 5: Type exit to close the command prompt windows.

Solution 6: Reinstall the drivers

Step 1: Go to Device Manager with following method. Click Start menu button, type in Device Manager and select this tool from the list of results at the top. Or press Windows Key + R buttons to bring up the Run dialog box, type in devmgmt.msc in the Run dialog box and click OK.

Step 2: Expand Disk Drives section in Device Manager, right click on the name of the memory card and select Uninstall Device option from the context menu.

Expand Disk Drives section in Device Manager, right click on the name of the memory card and select Uninstall Device option from the context menu.

Step 3: Restart your computer.

Step 4: Windows will start to download and install the latest version of generic drivers automatically.

Step 5: Restart again once the generic driver installation completed.

Solution 7: Recreate volume for SD card

Step 1: Press the Windows logo key + R at the same time to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2: Type diskmgmt.msc in the box and click OK to open the Disk Management console.

Step 3: Locate the partition on the SD that you wish to format. After choosing, right-click on it and select the Delete Volume option from the context menu.

Locate the partition on the SD that you wish to format. After choosing, right-click on it and select the Delete Volume option from the context menu.

Step 4: Right-click on it and select the New Simple Volume option from the context menu.

Right-click on it and select the New Simple Volume option from the context menu.

Solution 8: Force format SD card with Rufus

Feedback from many users about this tool worked when the SD card cannot be formatted.

Step 1: Visit Rufus official site to download the Rufus installer or portable version.

Step 2: Start the Rufus program.

Step 3: Select your SD card from the Device list, set Non bootable option for Boot selection, click on the START button to start the format process.

Force format SD card with Rufus

Solution 9: Replace a new SD card

If the SD card is unfixable and still under warranty time, then you can contact the brand and claim to exchange the memory card.