Quick Format Does Not Work – What to Do?

Several users might have experienced an error that states “Windows was unable to complete the format” when they tried to quick format their storage devices like internal hard drive, portable hard disk, USB drive, SD card, pen drive etc. There exist numerous causes that prevent completion of quick format process. Among those, few prime reasons are listed here.

Quick Format

  • If you are trying to format an internal hard drive, which is configured improperly in the BIOS settings or if it is jumpered inappropriately, then your Windows or BIOS incorrectly identifies the drive. Thus, the Quick format cannot be accomplished in a right way.
  • Confliction between Windows built-in programs like format utility caused due to virus/malware codes present in your system can also lead to these sort of problems.
  • Corrupted or damaged partition of the device that you are trying to format makes your Windows OS halt the quick format process or screens different error messages.
  • The presence of outdated and damaged BIOS or hardware drivers, lack of latest Windows Service Packs, etc. factors give rise to issues like Windows inability to detect the device parameters. Hence, quick format process stuck.
  • When your Windows setup fails to meet the format requirements. For example, if you try to format a partition of capacity bigger than 32GB as using FAT32 File System in Windows 2000, 2003 or XP operating systems then, the format process will fail.
  • When there is a confliction between the device that you are formatting and another device then also you may face format errors.
  • If the hard drive, portable disk, USB, SD card, etc. which you are trying to Quick format is severely corrupted or affected with the virus.

Caution: Make sure, you have a complete backup of your drive’s data before starting the format process/troubleshoot for any formatting issue. If you have quick formatted the drive without backing files from it or accidentally formatted it and searching ways to recover quick formatted hard drive, then make use of efficient data recovery software and get back erased data effortlessly.


  1. If you are facing format issue with your internal hard disk then check whether the latest BIOS is installed or not on your computer, PCI controller card or motherboard. If the latest update is not installed, then you can get updates from the respective manufacturer’s site. Set the BIOS to Auto-Detect mode in order to identify the hard drive. If you find Mode option, then set it to LBALarge, or Auto.
  2. Ensure that your system has all adequate latest driver software. If you find any outdated drivers then remove them, get latest one from the corresponding hardware manufacturers site and install it.
  3. Run an effective antivirus tool and make your computer as well the drive that you want to format virus-free before trying to format.
  4. Erase all partitions of the drive, which you wish to quick format, then proceed. Also, try repartitioning and reformatting the drive to resolve the issue.
  5. Check the File System of the drive that you are trying to format and your system OS. As Windows 2000, 2003 and XP Operating Systems cannot format the FAT32 partition that exceeds 32GB, you need to reduce the partition size to 32GB or less and try to format it with NTFS File System.
  6. Replace your data cable and see, it resolves the problem.
  7. Move the hard drive to another (secondary) IDE cable if the issue is popped up due to confliction between the drive with another device on the same IDE cable.
  8. If you are experiencing the problem with a portable drive, then connect it to another USB of your computer’s FireWire port. Also, try connecting the drive to another system and try to accomplish the format action.
  9. Choose Full Format instead of Quick Format.
    When you Quick Format the drive, entire files will be removed from the partition, but Quick Format does not scan your disk to find bad sectors. So, it is suggested to use Quick Format, only if your drive has been previously full formatted and you are sure that the disk is not damaged. But, it is recommended to go for Full Format, if you are trying to format the device for the first time. When you run the Full Format on a storage device, first entire files will be removed from the device, which you are formatting. Next, the disk will be scanned for bad blocks. So, the Full format is preferable than Quick Format.

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