How to Format USB Drive using Command Prompt in Windows

To format any storage drive in Windows, you just need to right-click on the drive and choose the Format option. It is a straight-forward affair. No deep menus, no nothing. But, there will be times when this method fails to format USB drive and throws bizarre errors like unable to format, unable to assign the drive letter, etc.

In those situations, you can try formatting USB drive from command prompt. Below are the steps needed to format USB drive from command prompt. Follow them one at a time and you’ll have a formatted drive in some seconds.

Warning: before formatting the USB drive, backup any date inside it. Formatting a drive deletes all data inside it irrecoverably.

The below method works in Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Format USB Using CMD

Formatting USB drive via command prompt is far easier than you think. All you need to do is choose the drive and execute a specific format command.

1. First, plug in the USB drive.

2. Look for cmd within the start menu, right-click on Command Prompt and select “Run as Administrator.”

3. To format the USB drive, we need to make use of the Diskpart tool. So, execute diskpart command.

4. You’ll certainly be inside the Diskpart utility. Execute list disk command to list out all the disks in your system.

5. From the above list, identify your USB drive. Stop find out the USB drive using its size. For instance, I’ve plugged in a 4GB pen drive. So my USB drive is represented as “Disk 2” with 3818MB.

6. After identifying the USB drive from the listing of disks, type the below command and press Enter to complete the command. Replace <diskNumber> using the actual disk number.

select disk <diskNumber>

Once you switch the above command using the actual disk number, the command will appear something like this.

select disk 2

7. After choosing the disk, you need to fix it. Execute the below command to clean the USB drive.


8. After washing the drive, it’s time to produce the primary partition. For your, execute the below command

create partition primary

9. Now we are able to format the drive. Execute the below command to format the USB drive with the NTFS file system. Generally, Windows drives are formatted as NTFS. If you want FAT32 file system then replace ntfs with fat32 in the below command. The “quick” part within the command is signaling the system to execute a quick format. You will notice it as being a checkbox when you try to format drives from File Explorer.

format fs=ntfs quick

10. Even after formatting, you won’t begin to see the USB drive in the File Explorer. It is because Windows didn’t assign any drive letter to the newly formatted drive. You need to specifically tell Windows to assign a drive letter. So, execute the below command to assign a drive letter for your USB drive.


11. That’s it, you’re done formatting USB drive from command prompt. Remember, we’re within the Diskpart utility. To get away from it, execute exit command.

12. Next, you can close the command prompt Windows by hitting the “X” button around the title bar or by typing exit again.

13. Should you open the File Explorer, you can observe your drive all formatted and neat.

See, it’s not that hard to format USB drive from command prompt. Comment below sharing your experiences or any problems you face while formatting USB drive from command prompt.

If you want to, you may also partition the USB drive to be able to better manage stored data.