Q

Cannot format flash drive in Windows

An administrator wonders why he is unable to format a flash drive in Windows.

My computer keeps telling me that I have to format my flash drive in order to access it. But when I try to format it using disk management, Windows is unable to complete the format. This happens on every computer. What might be causing this?
If it's doing this consistently on every computer you've tried it on, there's a very good chance the flash drive is bad in some way. But before writing off the drive as no good, try to format it with different file systems. For instance, if you're using FAT32, try formatting it as FAT16 and see if that makes a difference.

Also, if you're trying the "quick format" option with no luck, deselect that and see if that changes anything, since this will force the drive to be formatted completely instead of just erasing the file allocation tables.

This was first published in March 2006

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