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I have a USB disk that has gotten bollixed up and for the life of me, I can not reformat it and get back to square one.

I attempted to create an Acronis Survival Kit using a WD Elements 2TB USB disk. Acronis was reformatting the disk to make it bootable, but threw an error message and failed. It left the USB drive unusable; it did not show in Windows Explorer when unplugged and then plugged back in.

I attempted to use Disk Management to reformat it but had no success. I created a simple volume but the format failed:

"The volume was created successfully but it was not formatted. Retry the format using the format task."

Doing this also failed:

"Windows cannot format the volume because the volume is offline. Please try to online the volume by assigning a drive letter or path to the volume first."

I was able to assign a drive letter, but this got me nowhere; the format still failed because the volume was offline. This did get the disk to show in Windows Explorer, but it was not accessible.

These attempts took me to the limits of my expertise; I started using DOS back in the mid-80s but I've never dealt with this sort of issue before. I did also try to use DISKPART from the command line to see if I could make some progress (including attempting to online the disk), but without much experience with that tool, I had no success.

I'm hoping that this USB disk is salvageable and can be reformatted and brought back with a few simple steps that someone more knowledgeable can help me with.

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    I may be late for the party. But instead of downloading 3rd party software, check the following. Steps 1) Open Windows CMD or Powershell as Admin 2) Run 'DISKPART' 3) Then run 'select disk [disk_number]' 4) Be careful with the following as it will completely clean the disk meaning you would end up with data loss, Run 'clean' 5) Restart Disk Management. Now you can set it up as a new volume and format it.
    – MrSrv7
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 21:21

1 Answer 1

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You might try a third-party tool such as the free DiskGenius or MiniTool Partition Wizard to completely delete all partitions. Then create a single NTFS partition.

In DiskGenius,

  • Right click on the drive for each of the following.
  • Change Device State to ensure it is online, not read-only.
  • Delete All Partitions.
  • Quick Partition, probably choosing 1 partition, NTFS, of the full disk.

Optionally, you could try,

  • Verify Or Repair Bad Sectors, if there is any issue above.
  • Convert Boot Mode, to make it bootable.

DiskGenius context menu

Let me know if this resolves the issue.

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    Thanks so much! I've spent several hours on this before asking for help here; DiskGenius and your guidance had the USB disk fixed in about 30 seconds!
    – Darryl
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 1:25
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    DiskGenius works perfectly, it will be my go-to tool for fixes! Commented May 26, 2020 at 16:27
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    In my case this did not work. I previously used the disk imaging software Rufus to write the image of Parted Magic to a USB stick. Later I wanted to re-image the USB stick but could not remove the partition in Win Disk Management. I used Disk Genius and followed your instructions. This time in diskmgmt.msc I could right-click and format and it would bring up the format dialog (unlike before). Also I verified the disk. However when I clicked next, "the system can not find the path specified". I then was able to delete the volume and recreate. But again when attempting to format, the same error.
    – hazymat
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 12:19
  • @hazymat, even "perfect" flash flash RAM has a finite write cycle endurance (see ni.com/en-us/support/documentation/supplemental/12/…). Further, certain operations can damage flash RAM, and some unscrupulous manufacturers make bad RAM (see majorgeeks.com/files/details/fakeflashtest.html). Regrettably, it appears your USB device is no longer usable. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 19:30
  • DiskGenius saved me! Thanks
    – desmond13
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 9:22

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