Windows cannot format this drive. Quit any disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive

Most of the issues with Windows have one good resolution – formatting the system drive and reinstalling Windows. Or then at times, we may want to simply erase all the files & folders on our Data Drives, eg. D drive, E drive, etc. For doing this, we simply right-click on the Drive in Windows File Explorer’s PC folder and select Format from the available context menu options. Or we could open Disk Management Utility and do it.

Windows cannot format this drive

However, formatting a hard disk might not always be the smoothest of processes. Many users have reported an acknowledged receiving an error message when trying to format the hard drive:

Windows cannot format this drive. Quit any disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive, and make sure that no window is displaying the contents of the drive. Then try formatting again.

Let us consider the two scenarios:

  1. You wish to format the System Drive C: It’s obvious that it won’t happen. The system drive has to be formatted using external media or internal options but not when logged on to Windows.
  2. You wish to format a Data drives like D:, E:, etc.: If you get this error in this scenario, you should close all your open applications and then try to format the drive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always help.

Windows cannot format this drive, Quit any disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive

Let us troubleshoot the issue on a case by case basis:

You wish to format the system drive C & erase all data from your system

To do this, it is best you use the Windows installation media during Setup and select the Format option when you are asked. You will usually want to do this when you plan to clean install an operating system.

You wish to format the Data drives D:, E:, etc.

The ideal procedure to format any of these drives would be to right-click on the drive, click on Format and then start the formatting procedure. But since it is not working, we will try the following steps:

1] Force Format using Disk Management

Press Win + R to open the run window. Type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter. This opens the Disk Management Tool.Disk Management

Right-click on the drive you wish to format and click on the option Format. The drive won’t format straight away but will give the following error message:

The volume (name of the drive) logical drive currently in use. To force the format of this volume click Yes.

It will format the drive forcefully and this could be verified by checking the space on the drive.

2] Use Diskpart

If this does not work for you, you may need to make use od the Diskpart command-line tool which ships with your Windows 10/8/7 OS.

To run this tool, open an elevated command prompt and run the following command one after the other:

diskpart
list disk
list volume
select volume <no>
format

Here you have to replace <no> with the number of the volume that you wish to format.

This will format the drive.

The optional switches you can use with the format command are:

  • FS=<FS> – Specifies the type of file system. If no file system is given, the default file system is used.
  • REVISION = <X.XX> – Specifies the file system revision (if applicable).
  • RECOMMENDED – If specified, use the recommended file system and revision instead of the default if a recommendation exists.
  • LABEL=<“label”> – Specifies the volume label.
  • UNIT=<N> – Overrides the default allocation unit size. Default settings are strongly recommended for general use.
  • QUICK – Performs a quick format.
  • COMPRESS – NTFS only: Files created on the new volume will be compressed by default.
  • OVERRIDE – Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary. All opened handles to the volume would no longer be valid.
  • NOWAIT – Forces the command to return immediately while the format process is still in progress.
  • NOERR – For scripting only. When an error is encountered, DiskPart continues to process commands as if the error did not occur.

Examples:

  • FORMAT FS=NTFS LABEL=”New Volume” QUICK COMPRESS
  • FORMAT RECOMMENDED OVERRIDE

Hope this helps.

See this post if you receive Windows cannot be installed to this disk, The selected disk is of the GPT partition style error message.

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Karan Khanna is a passionate Windows 10 user who loves troubleshooting Windows problems in specific and writing about Microsoft technologies in general.