How to Force Format a USB Flash Drive in Windows XP/Vista/7

If you cannot format successfully your USB flash drive using Windows format feature, you can try the tip given below.

Get Started

1. Open the Start menu, type cmd in search box, right click on cmd.exe and select Run as adminstrator.

2. Run now this command:

format H: /FS:FAT32 /x 

Replace H: with your own USB flash drive letter (E:, F:, G:, etc.).  You can also replace FAT32 with another file system such as NTFS, FAT, etc.

That's it!

20 Responses to “How to Force Format a USB Flash Drive in Windows XP/Vista/7”

Pavle said...
June 9, 2011 at 6:20 PM


Branigan Sabado said...
June 21, 2011 at 2:18 AM

stuck at "0 percent completed" within the cmd window

LT said...
June 21, 2011 at 5:33 AM

@Branigan Sabado

Maybe your flash drive is write-protected.

Marcy said...
July 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I'm having the same problem with a thumb drive. It's not write-protected and is FAT32, 4G.

LT said...
July 13, 2011 at 10:34 AM

If you can't force format it, then it is damaged.

PieEatingZombie said...
September 19, 2011 at 5:58 PM

I got to 50% and then it said "The media being formatted has been removed or has become invalid. Format aborted"

LT said...
September 20, 2011 at 2:42 AM


I think your USB media needs to be replaced!

yogini said...
October 5, 2011 at 5:25 AM

and what does a person do if the comand prompt is not ready to wait for me type more than a alphabet
and then it vanishes poof!!!

Bob said...
October 6, 2011 at 4:37 PM

yogini, it sounds like you are typing the info in the run command - that's why it opens then closes instantly - you need to click start then click run then type cmd and hit ok - this will open a black, dos box - THEN you can continue with "format H: /FS:FAT32 /x"

deanner said...
October 12, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I can't get this to work. I type the command, using the correct drive letter, and then hit enter, and it just brings up another c: line prompt. I also typed :f to go to an f: line prompt, and can't get it to work. Gah. What am I doing wrong? The flash drive is one that I picked up at a trade show with preinstalled software and PDFS. Is a cool flash drive so I want to reformat so I can reuse. Thanks for your help!

socrazyJR said...
November 18, 2011 at 5:37 PM

i tried to type your command and it said that "Access Denied as you do not have sufficient priveleges. You have to invoke this utility running in elevated mode"

LT said...
November 19, 2011 at 2:40 AM

you have to start the command line as administrator.

hanzel said...
December 19, 2011 at 10:41 PM

what will i do if it is write-protected?

alilaghari said...
March 29, 2012 at 3:03 AM

i got this message (Cannot open volume for direct access, now what i do

Sythe Org said...
June 25, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Thanks a lot man, it worked. thumbs uP!

Macharia Mwai said...
September 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM

how do you format a write protected usb 4gb flash disk. or even better, how do you remove the write protection????Heeeelllllllllllp>!

Patrick Does said...
October 5, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Cannot format , volume is write protected , and i tried dam everything to get permissions for it , and when i scanned it there is no bad sectors

John Smith said...
November 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM

It says
Insert new disk for drive H
and press ENTER when ready

when I press enter it says
Error in IOCTL call.

andy hayman said...
December 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM


Lee Marilyn said...
January 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Is there another way? :/ Same response, im stuck at 0 percent completed. and when i try to access it, it says "F:/ is not accessible. Access is denied."

What do i do?

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