[Solved] Can’t Format USB Disk in Ubuntu because of Error Formatting Volume

So I was trying to format a USB disk in Ubuntu. I used the normal way of formatting the USB. I right click on the mounted USB and clicked on format disk. It gave me the usual warning about the data loss and the next thing I saw was this error message:

Error Formatting Volume
This partition cannot be modified because it contains a partition table; >please reinitialize layout of the whole device. (udisks-error-quark, 11)

This partition cannot be modified because it contains a partition table; please reinitialize layout of the whole device. (udisks-error-quark, 11)

The USB disk I was trying to format was previously used as a live USB for Solus Linux. Clearly, Ubuntu wasn’t very happy about it (pun intended).

I tried using GParted. But strangely, GParted could not fix this issue despite the fact that it had fixed Error Formatting Volume in the past.

In this quick tip, I am going to show you how to fix this Error Formatting Volume issue in Ubuntu and perhaps other Ubuntu based Linux distributions such as Linux Mint.

Fix “Error Formatting Volume” in Ubuntu

You may watch this video to see how to fix this error in action:

We’ll be using Disks utility provided by Ubuntu here. Just look for Disks utility. If you are using Unity or GNOME, just search for Disks:

Use Disks to fix USB disk formatting issue

I am using Pop OS theme and icon so my screenshots may look different. But you can still find your way out, I know.

In the Disks application, select your USB disk. Be very sure that you have selected the USB disk you wish to format. From the top right menu, select Format Disk option.

Formatting USB Disk partition error

Since it is a USB stick, select MBR partitioning like the one in the picture below:

You’ll get the usual warning about losing your data on the USB disk. Click on Format:

Can't format Ubuntu installation stick

Once formatted, you’ll see your disk with entirely free storage:

Format USb disk correctly in Ubuntu

At this point, you should also create a partition of the entire free space size here. I have used another USB disk in the below screenshots.

Make partition on USB

Format it to FAT file system.

Format USB partition

Once you have created the partition, you’ll see that the USB is mounted immediately.

That’s it. I hope this quick post helped you to fix the “This partition cannot be modified because it contains a partition table” error while formatting the USB stick in Ubuntu Linux.

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  • Hi Abhishek, thanks for the tip, but it didnĀ“t work for me. I have a 2TB external storage, when I try to “clean” the disk with the empty type, it goes back again in the same table structure that the drive had previously. When I click on disks and execute the process that you described above, it seems the external storage is empty, but a couple seconds later, the original partition table is recovered. Do you have an idea what to do?