Making My Unusable USB Stick Usable Again
Posted by William Diaz on June 11, 2012
I had a USB flash device that just stopped working suddenly. When I plugged it in, the following message popped up in Windows: “You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it.”
That was odd because earlier it was formatted with FAT32 and seemed to be working normally (copied files to it). Luckily, I didn’t have anything important stored on it, clicked Format disk and was the presented with the format options and selected Start.
To my surprise, the USB flash stick would not format, returning the error “Windows was unable to complete the format.” This was followed by: “Windows can’t format E. Check to see that the disk and drive are connected properly, make sure the disk is not read only….”
I doubted stick had become physically defective from one short moment to the next. What likely happened was that I “hosed” it while running a utility that was supposed to make it bootable. To see if I could fix it, I went into diskpart. You start diskpart from the the command line. I started by looking at all the volumes on the system:
You can see the USB stick (Volume 2, Drive E) has a status of Unusable. Likely the partition was removed. To switch to the desired volume, use the Select Volume # command. Afterwards, I confirmed with the list partition command:
Well, we can’t format until a partition exist and there is no GUI for that. Diskpart to the rescue, just run create partition primary:
Now we can format the USB stick with with a file system from the GUI or with diskpart using the format command.