By Emily / Last Updated October 28, 2019

Cannot format USB flash drive

“Hi, guys. I am unable to format 1GB Simple tech USB Flash drive. The formatting process starts as usual, towards the end “Windows cannot format USB flash drive " and everything stops.Open Disk Management, click Format, but same result. What else can I do? Any help will be greatly appreciated.”

Usually, you can format USB drives in Disk Management and File Explorer easily. However, as the user above, sometimes you cannot finish the formatting operations as usual. That might be caused by USB drive read only, virus attack, USB corrupted, bad sectors, or other unknown factors.

How to format USB drive in Command Prompt?

When you fail to format USB drive in Windows Disk Management or File Explorer, you can try to format USB drive in Command Prompt.

Attention: Formatting will delete all data stored on the USB drive, so ensure you have backed up any required files in advance.

Step 1. Launch and run Command Prompt as Administrator: Click the “Start” button and enter “cmd” in the search box; then right-click “Command Prompt” and select “Run as Administrator”.

Step 2. Then type “Diskpart” and press “Enter” to launch Diskpart to format USB drive.

Step 3. In the subsequent window, type the following commands one by one, and press “Enter” after each one.

  • list disk: all disks on your computer will be listed along with a number.

  • select disk #: # is the number of the USB drive

  • clean: all data on the selected disk will be cleaned.

  • create partition primary

  • select partition 1

  • format fs=ntfs quick: you can replace ntfs with fat32 or exfat when necessary.

  • assign letter f: give the formatted partition with a specific drive letter. Then you can access it from Windows File Explorer.

Format USB Drive

If the USB is write-protected, you need to add command “attributes disk clear readonly” to remove read only properties between “select disk #” and “clean” commands.

Format USB drive using professional disk formatting tool

After looking through the steps on how to format USB drive in Command Prompt, you might worry that important data might get lost if you input a wrong disk or partition number during the process, or you might have received an error message saying “The volume is too big for FAT32” when trying to format an over 32GB drive to FAT32.

In those situations, you can switch to AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.This is a free yet powerful disk formatting utility, working well on all versions from Windows XP to Windows 10. With a clear and user-friendly interface, you can easily choose the right drive to format. Besides, it can format large hard drive to FAT32 with ease. Most importantly, it allows you to format partition to Ext4/3/2 for Linux operating system.

Step 1. Free download AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, install and run it on Windows computer. Right click the USB drive and choose “Format Partition”.

Format Partition

Step 2. In the pop-out mini window, you can choose a proper file system for your needs. Then click “OK” to proceed.


Step 3. Back to the main interface, click “Apply" to commit the pending operation.


Final Verdict

With this detailed guide, you are sure to know how to format USB drive in Command Prompt. If you want to format USB drive more easily and flexibly, AOMEI Partition Assistant is a better choice. If you upgrade to Professional, you can unlock more advanced functions. For example, you can migrate OS to SSD, allocate free space from one partition to another, recover deleted partitions and more.