Windows Explored

Everyday Windows Desktop Support, Advanced Troubleshooting & Other OS Tidbits

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.”

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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.

 

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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….”

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Now we can format the USB stick with with a file system from the GUI or with diskpart using the format command.

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40 Responses to “Making My Unusable USB Stick Usable Again”

  1. thanx for this 1 q how do i select the usb drive my drive is volume 4 G removeable it doesnt show that its 16gb just 0 any ideas thanx

  2. gtho1 said

    hi i have done as said but how do i select the usb +it comes as volume 4 G REMOVEABLE with 0 on size ,it it a 16gb so any ideas wld greatly used .

  3. udeth said

    Wow!..thanks a lot. i thought i damaged my flash drive..thanks again! ^^

  4. gift said

    Thanx a lot I’m a final year I.T student but this I ddnt knew.

  5. cLaudine said

    Can you help me with my problem? I already followed all the steps,..and in the end can finally see the file system from the GUI of it,..but then I actually got a little excited, coz I thought I have finally fixed it and then I plug off the external hard drive I’m fixing and I forgot to format it before removing it,..so I plug it in again and my problems got worse,..it all comes back to zero so I started trying to do the steps again, but I never saw the file system from the GUI again so I tried to format it using the cmd command prompt but it didn’t work so I tried to use the command CLEAN in the cmd after using CLEAN command it say’s that the hard drive is now UNINITIALIZED,..i tried to do everything i could but it didn’t work. whenever I am plugging in my hard drive in every laptop or computers it didn’t show up or even pop up a notification that it is already installing a new hardware,..i can’t even find my hard drive in “my computer” folder,..the computer is not reading it. why?
    what have i done,..?
    I’m sorry I just got a little confused at some point,..can you help me please,..Thanks!

  6. Alexander said

    hey looked i have a kingston data traveler 111 32 gb and it has somehow lost its partitions but everytime i try following your guide when i get to creating the partition i get an error and that i can look in the log to figure out more,?? it won’t let me create a new partition? can you help?

  7. Vishal said

    Today World Need Experts like you thank for sharing post, it makes my pen drive usable again 🙂

  8. ravinder said

    Excellent..! Great Work.

  9. Vishruth said

    Hi, Nice writeup. I have 1 problem. Hope you can give me some hints.

    When I run “CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY SIZE=1000” i get an error:

    “No usable free extent could be found. It may be that there is insufficient
    free space to create a partition at the specified size and offset. Specify
    different size and offset values or don’t specify either to create the
    maximum sized partition. It may be that the disk is partitioned using the MBR disk
    partitioning format and the disk contains either 4 primary partitions, (no
    more partitions may be created), or 3 primary partitions and one extended
    partition, (only logical drives may be created).”

  10. Punit Sharma said

    Hey Hi,

    While checking the partition as “D: list partition” the list of index is showing of Diskpart eq:- ADD – Add a mirror to a simple volume, ACTIVE – Marks the current basic partition as an active boot partition….etc….

    please suggest some way out…..as in Diskpart volume is showing perfectly but while doing formatting it shows windows is unable to complete formatting…

    please help!

    Regard,
    PUNIT S.

  11. ghade said

    it says “the parameter is incorrect” what do i do?

  12. Guillermo said

    when i try to create the partition this is the error i get: “diskpart has encountered an error: the system cannot find the file specified. See the system event log for more information.”

  13. LifeSaver said

    MAn i dont know who you are but i will find you and i will marry you ……. 🙂

  14. I couldn’t get it to delete the volume or the partition. Once I selected the disk, however, I was able to use the “clean” command and voila! You must be in elevated command prompt before you go into diskpart also.

  15. musa said

    You are really good at it! Thank you so much, my disk is now fully recovered.

  16. DAIMEX said

    Hello to everyone. I want to say, that if you had a problem with your flash drive, saying that it is 0 mb or b, and you can’t format it with windows, device manager or recover it by using programs, or get no result after cleaning the chip, I have the solution. I had this problem today and I manage to solved by using my Xbox 360 console. I put in the Xbox, format it for Xbox and it was fully recovered. That’s how I save my 64 GB flash drive. So if you have any console, try to insert the flash there and format it using the console. Hope this will help you too 🙂

  17. Nick said

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been searching for answers and can’t believe it was this easy.

  18. Matthew said

    Hello,
    I tried to follow your steps in repairing my usb drive, but instead of the status presenting itself as unusable, it is healthy. However, the file system is listed as RAW. When I attempted to create a partition primary, the cmd said that I couldn’t because no free space could be found. Some background regarding the usb, it was originally FAT32 but I formatted it to NTFS so that I could put a 4.15 GB video on it. Everything went smoothly, and I played the video on my television, but then when I turned the tv off and on the usb could not be found. When I plugged it back into my computer, it had changed to a RAW system and displays 0 bytes of room. I’m unable to format or do anything to it. I’ve tried checking it for errors and not had any success. I was wondering if you might be able to help me as you put together this great guide for a similar situation!
    Thanks,
    Mattthew

    DISKPART> list volume

    Volume ### Ltr Label Fs Type Size Status Info
    ———- — ———– —– ———- ——- ——— ——–
    Volume 0 E DVD-ROM 0 B No Media
    Volume 1 C Windows8_OS NTFS Partition 891 GB Healthy Boot
    Volume 2 D LENOVO NTFS Partition 25 GB Healthy
    Volume 3 WINRE_DRV NTFS Partition 1000 MB Healthy Hidden
    Volume 4 SYSTEM_DRV FAT32 Partition 260 MB Healthy System
    Volume 5 PBR_DRV NTFS Partition 12 GB Healthy Hidden
    Volume 7 F RAW Removable 7680 MB Healthy

    DISKPART> select volume 7

    Volume 7 is the selected volume.

    DISKPART> list partition

    Partition ### Type Size Offset
    ————- —————- ——- ——-
    * Partition 1 Primary 7680 MB 0 B

    DISKPART> create partition primary

    No usable free extent could be found. It may be that there is insufficient
    free space to create a partition at the specified size and offset. Specify
    different size and offset values or don’t specify either to create the
    maximum sized partition. It may be that the disk is partitioned using the MBR disk
    partitioning format and the disk contains either 4 primary partitions, (no
    more partitions may be created), or 3 primary partitions and one extended
    partition, (only logical drives may be created).

  19. Phantom said

    dude it says: “DiskPart has encountered an error: Incorrect function”

  20. ksn said

    Thanks a Lot !!!

  21. Dalma said

    Thank you!!!! It was very useful 🙂

  22. Ash said

    can you help me to format my pendrive which has status of unusable

  23. hi there, I just followed all step until “Create partition primary” but when i hit enter i get this error
    “DISKPART> create partition primary

    DiskPart has encountered an error: Incorrect function.
    See the System Event Log for more information.”
    what do i do now?

  24. Hi there, I followed all step as given above but m good till “Select volume 3”
    But when i go for next step “create partition primary” i get this
    “DISKPART> create partition primary

    DiskPart has encountered an error: Incorrect function.
    See the System Event Log for more information.”

  25. mello said

    didnot work for me

  26. mani said

    diskpart has encountered an error : The request could not be performed because of an I/O error

  27. Miki said

    Thank you! I was doing everything right except I didn’t know I needed to make the partition first. I was about to give up on my 128gb stick!

  28. Jane said

    Hi, I did all the steps but when I tried to create a new partition, it shows an error that the media has change. 😦 what will i do

  29. janjan said

    DISKPART> list volume

    Volume ### Ltr Label Fs Type Size Status Info
    ———- — ———– —– ———- ——- ——— ——–
    Volume 0 C Acer NTFS Partition 28 GB Healthy Boot
    Volume 1 ESP FAT32 Partition 100 MB Healthy System
    Volume 2 Recovery NTFS Partition 500 MB Healthy Hidden
    * Volume 3 D Removable 0 B Unusable

    DISKPART> select volume 3

    Volume 3 is the selected volume.

    DISKPART> list partition

    There are no partitions on this disk to show.

    DISKPART> create partition primary

    DiskPart has encountered an error: The parameter is incorrect.
    See the System Event Log for more information.

    I don’t know what to do next?

  30. Edgar Machuca said

    wow i just followed your guide, excellent by the way, but I still cant confirm it worked for me because i used diskpart for formatting also, but wow that way is slow… I guess its writing ceros all over my usb drive..

  31. Michael said

    I’m an idiot that though I destroyed my new 128 GB stick by messing around with it. Thank you for negating my idiocy.

  32. Madhuranga said

    thank you so much.nice work.

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