How to format any removable media using Command Prompt on Windows 8 or 10

Are you facing problems in formatting your removable device using the common Right-Click Formatting method? Here is the solution of your problem. Read this article to know how to format any removable media using Command Prompt. This article will take you through a very effective method to format the pen drives, SD cards and other removable devices using command prompt.

Formatting a pen drive or any other removable media is generally a very easy task to do on a PC. But sometimes the things do not go the way you want them. Sometimes formatting removable media proves very annoying due to regular errors which we are generally unable to sort out. In such circumstances, the Right-Click Formatting is not going to work for you because of the following problems with your removable disk:

1) You might have not formatted the disk for a very long time.
2) The disk might have been under the long effect of a memory Trojan.
3) The particular removable disk might have remained unattended for long with a lot of data in it.

So, these things make your removable media resistant to formatting and having any of these conditions for even bit longer time might cause permanent damage to your removable disk. In this article, I am going to discuss how to format any removable media using the command prompt to overcome the problems you face while formatting that drive using general right-click formatting method.

Step by step guide to format any removable media using the command prompt

Step 1: Search for the command prompt in the search bar on the right panel of your laptop screen (for windows 8 users) as shown in the image.

How to format any removable media using Command Prompt

Those who are using the older versions like Windows 7 can search for the command prompt from the search bar located in the start menu.

Step 2: Click on the Command Prompt and wait for the displaying dialogue. A black colored dialogue will open as shown in the image.

command prompt

Sometimes the displaying dialogue opens and closes automatically. In such cases, you need to refresh the date and time of your laptop or PC and restart it to get the command prompt opened normally.

Step 3: Type "cd.." and press enter key. Do this step twice i.e. first type "cd.." and press enter key and then again type "cd.." and press enter key. By this, you reach to the directory where you are supposed to be. You should get the same visuals as shown in the image below. After making sure you have correctly entered the commands, proceed to next step.

command prompt cd..

Step 4: This step involves giving the correct disk name i.e. the disk you want to format. For example in the image below, I have typed the command "format I:" which involves the disk name i.e. 'I'. This disk name is automatically given to the removable media and you insert it in the laptop. The below image will help you find the name of your disk. In the image, you can see that I have not typed the name 'Mehdi' rather I have used the suffix i.e. 'I' as this is the command name which will be used to format that disk via command prompt.

format command in cp

Step 5: Once you type the above command (format {disk name}) correctly, press the enter key. A confirmation message will appear saying Insert new disk for drive I and press enter when ready. Make sure the disk is inserted properly and press the enter key to start the formatting process.

press enter when ready command prompt

Step 6: This step includes nothing other than waiting for the process to complete and the screen will show the percentage of completion of the formatting process as shown in the image below.

Note: Do not remove the device until the format is completed up to 100%. Be careful that the device is not disconnected while the process is running.

percentage completion of formatting process in command prompt

Why to use command prompt for formatting a device

It is obvious that one will think why to waste time for such a hectic process but one has no other option if he is under the circumstances mentioned in the very first paragraph of this article.

Secondly, using command prompt for formatting erases the data fully without leaving chance of future infections to this device i.e. it is homologous to resetting a device to its factory settings.

Using command prompt for device formatting make your device reset its values to the default i.e. if some of the memory of your device is permanently locked by some external factory, it will also free up those spaces and hence increases the storage capacity of that particular removable disk.

Cons of using command prompt for formatting a device

One of the major draw backs of this process is that it is very much time consuming as one cannot opt for quick format. It takes about 15 minutes to format a 16 GB pen drive using command prompt. So, make sure you have enough time to opt for this method.

Another con of this process is that the device should not be removed during the formatting as it permanently damages the storage capability of that device if done so. So, be cautious and make sure that the device is properly connected throughout the process.


This was all about how to format any removable media using Command Prompt. Please keep in consideration the alerts and cautions indicated in some of the steps as they are very crucial for your data and the device which you are going to format using this method. If you need any kind of help regarding this process, feel free to ask your queries in the response box below. I will be happy to help you any way.

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Author: Timmappa Kamat01 Feb 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

That was a great article indeed. I think is helpful a lot for me because I have a 8 GB MicroSD card that I am not able to format using normal methods and I am going to try it on my card tomorrow.

Author: Timmappa Kamat02 Feb 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

It did not work on my card. It shows formatted. But once I mount the card again, all the data is back!

Author: Mehdi02 Feb 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

According to my knowledge, it happens when your device damaged or corrupted. Please try formatting your SD card via any smartphone. If the formatting is not successful, then I am sure that the card has been corrupted and there is no way to format it. I has now just turned into a read only CD/DVD.

Author: Timmappa Kamat03 Feb 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

That should be the biggest possibility. I had earlier tried to format it on another smartphone. The card seems to have got corrupted. I guess I won't even be able to write anything goes on it.

Guest Author: Akshay09 Dec 2017

It shows ' format' is not recognised as internal or external command...

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