Windows Unable to Format SD Card – Try Top 3 Ways to Fix It

Seeing a Windows was unable to complete the format error on your SD card or USB flash drive, but don’t know how to deal with it? From this page, you can grab 3 easy ways to fix it effortlessly.


By Clytze Updated on February 1, 2023

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User case


Windows 10 unable to format SD card

Hi experts, my Micro SD Card just stopped working. So I tried to format it but it says I/O device error. I tried many alternate ways but was unsuccessful. Kindly help me out with your advice's and let me know what can be done.

- Question from Microsoft Community

Windows Unable to Format SD Card

Some users have reported that when they try to format the SD card, they are prompted with a format failure, such as the common error message "Windows was unable to complete the format". Many users feel that if they encounter this error message, it means that the SD card is completely unusable and can only be replaced with a new one. In fact, in some cases, this error can be fixed. Now I’ll walk you through the following content to see how to enable that.

Why unable to format SD card on Windows 10?

Before we switch to the solutions, you may wonder what has caused this error to happen. Here I’ve listed some possible reasons that may fail the format process.

  • The SD card is write protected.
  • The SD card is infected by unknown virus.
  • The SD card is damaged or corrupted.
  • The SD card had some bad sectors.
  • The SD card is affected by physical failure.

The listed reasons have their corresponding solutions, just continue reading to get more details.

3 solutions to Windows unable to format SD card

If you encounter Windows unable to format SD card error message, you can try the provided 3 solutions to reformat it.

NOTE: All of the above operations will damage the data in the SD card to varying degrees, so if the data in the SD card is very important, you must backup the data in the SD card first and then perform the above operations.

Solution 1. Formatting in Disk Management

If you find that SD card cannot format or delete, you can use Disk Management to recreate the partition for the SD card and then format it. Here is how to do it.

1. Right click Start menu and select Disk Management.

2. Right-click on the drive you want to format, then select Format from the context menu.

3. Pick a Volume label and the desired File System, and set the Allocation unit size as Default.

4. To check for any drive issues, uncheck the Perform a quick format option. Note that this will make the process significantly slower.

Volume Label

Solution 2. Remove Write Protection on the SD card

Write protection (also called read-only) is the ability of a data storage device to prevent new data from being written or old information from being modified. Therefore, when an SD card is write-protected, you will not be able to format it successfully. To format the SD card, you must remove its write-protected attributes. Follow the steps to enable that.

1. Input cmd in the Windows 10 search box and click the best match Command Prompt.

2. Then input the following commands and press Enter.


list disk

select disk #: replace # with your actual situation.

attributes disk clear readonly: to remove its write protection properties.

Now that there's no write protection, try formatting your disk again. To format it, just execute the commands listed as below.


create partition primary

format fs=ntfs quick

After the formatting process is finished, you can type exit to close the window.

Remove Write Protection

Solution 3. Check and repair SD card bad sectors

Bad sectors can also cause the SD card fail to format. You can repair bad sectors by using the drive error checking feature. You can follow the easy steps to finish this task.

1. Connect your SD card with your PC using a card reader. Now press the Windows + E key to open Windows Explorer.

2. Now right-click the SD card that has bad sectors. Then open Properties.

3. Click on the Tools and then proceed with clicking on Check. This will begin the process of error checking.

Error Checking

Once the task is finished, you can format the SD card again to see if the error is fixed.

More secure way to wipe SD card with best disk wipe tool

If the above fixes did not work for you, or if you are looking for a safer way to erase data from your SD card, then I highly recommend you use AOMEI Backupper Professional. It is a professional disk eraser designed for all Windows PCs including Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, and provides you with many practical features, including:

✦ You can choose to wipe an entire SD card, a selected partition, wipe free space on Windows 11, or unallocated space using this software to meet your various needs.
✦ It allows you to erase not only SD card, but also USB drives, hard disks (HDD/SSD). With no brand restriction, all brands of disks are supported, including Crucial, WD, Samsung and Seagate, etc.
✦ It offers 4 wiping methods including Fill sectors with Zero, Fill sectors with random data, DoD 52220.22-M, and Gutmann to meet your different needs.

Now, here is the stepwise guide for you to wipe SD card with AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Step 1. Download AOMEI Backupper Professional, install, and launch it. Then click Tools > Disk Wipe.

Download DemoWin11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Tools Disk Wipe

Step 2. Select Wipe disk to delete all partitions and erase all sectors on the SD card and click Next.

Choose Wipe Disk

Step 3. Select the SD card you want to wipe and click Next to continue.

Wipe Data Select Disk

Step 4. On the Wiping Method page, choose Fill sectors with Zero. Then click Start to begin the zero filling process.

Wipe Method

Step 5. You will then be taken to the erase process page. If you want to stop the process, you can click Cancel in the right corner. When the operation is complete, click Finish.


Helpful tips:
👉 This function does not support wiping dynamic disks.
👉 If you want to completely wipe a hard drive including OS, the software will reboot to WinPE to perform the operation. You will not be able to enter the system after completion.
👉 If you want to continue using the SD card after erasing, you can create a new volume using Disk Management with ease.

Final words

Now you know how to fix Windows unable to format SD card error with the presented solutions in the above part. If you want a more secure way to clean the SD card data, you can try the best disk wipe tool AOMEI Backupper to completely wipe the SD card.

Moreover, this tool integrates other powerful features such as clone, which can help you securely finish the task of Samsung SSD clone C drive, and make it boot up successfully. Why not try it now?

Clytze · Editor
Clytze, an editor at AOMEI Technology, is passionate about safeguarding your digital world. She dedicates her expertise to empower users like you in data security and recovery. She firmly believes that everyone should have the tools and knowledge to protect their digital assets through computer backup, seamless disk cloning, and efficient file synchronization. Clytze is your trusted guide on the journey to data safety.