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How to format a hard drive in FAT32

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Why might you need to format an external USB drive to the FAT32 file system? Not so long ago, I wrote about various file systems, their limitations and compatibility. Among other things, it was noted that FAT32 is compatible with almost all devices, namely: DVD players and car radios that support USB connection and many others. In most cases, if the user needs to format the external drive in FAT32, then the task is precisely to make the DVD player, TV or other household device “see” films, music and photos on this drive.

If you try to perform formatting using standard Windows tools, as described here, for example, the system will report that the volume is too large for FAT32, which is actually not the case. See also: How to fix Windows error cannot complete disk formatting

The FAT32 file system supports volumes up to 2 terabytes and a single file size up to 4 GB (take into account the last moment, it can be critical when saving movies to such a disk). And now we’ll look at how to format a device of this size.

What is FAT32?

You probably know about the existence of several file systems, each of which has its own characteristics and limitations. In particular, at the moment we will focus on the FAT32 file system.

FAT32 is a derivative of the FAT file system, being its more advanced version, allowing much more efficient use of disk space.

FAT32 is a fairly popular file system, but it is also obsolete, significantly inferior to the NTFS file system. The fact is that the file size written to the disk with the FAT32 file system should be no more than 4 GB, while for NTFS this restriction does not exist. That is why the NTFS file system is recommended for hard drives with a large amount of disk space, and FAT32, respectively, for small disks, such as flash drives (in fact, as a rule, various small removable drives are sold with this file system).

In defense of FAT32, it should be noted that to this day it is considered the most stable and simple file system, and in addition, this file system is supported by a much larger number of existing operating systems.

Formatting an external drive in FAT32 using fat32format

One of the easiest ways to format a large disk in FAT32 is to download the free fat32format program, you can do this from the official website of the developer here: http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/index.htm?guiformat.htm (Download starts when click on the screenshot of the program).

This program does not require installation. Just plug in your external hard drive, run the program, select the drive letter and click the Start button. After that, you just have to wait until the formatting process is over and exit the program. That's all, an external hard drive, whether it is 500 GB or terabytes, is formatted in FAT32. Let me remind you again, this will limit the maximum file size on it - no more than 4 gigabytes.

And suddenly it will be interesting:

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09/14/2014 at 00:12

Thanks, helped, just for the xbox 360 needed to prepare

01/27/2015 at 14:51

Thank you very much for the recommendations, I quickly formatted an external FAT32 hard drive

02/01/2015 at 01:10

Many modern devices manufactured in 2012 - for example, TVs (LG and some others) normally read USB NTFS external hard drives. My TV normally plays video from a Samsung 300 GB external drive under NTFS. This system is more resistant to crashes and has no restrictions on the maximum file size (4GB), therefore it is preferable, other things being equal.

02/01/2015 at 06:36

Many, but, unfortunately, not all, even from modern ones. But it’s really worth checking out. In addition, it is more convenient for a Windows user to work with NTFS.

09/04/2015 at 20:29

NTFS is undoubtedly more convenient, but for PS3 and Xbox 360 (to run games from external media) you need FAT32.

09/05/2015 at 07:06

Doesn't xbox see NTFS? Is there a Windows-based system like? (Not the console owner himself, just a question arose).

06/30/2015 at 21:40

Well, the program seems to be nothing, let's see how it will trample with the telecom

08/18/2015 at 14:52

Anything, just not what you need!

02/04/2018 at 09:26

And what was necessary?)

12/13/2015 at 04:33

10.26.2016 at 16:10

Dmitry, the fat32format program refused to format 4-terabytes in FAT32, writes that it only supports 2TB max. Do not tell me, maybe there are any other ways?

10/27/2016 at 10:53

Hello. For 4 TB there is no such possibility.

10/27/2016 at 13:01

Dmitry, hello, thanks for the prompt reply. But what about your information in the article that FAT32 supports partitions up to 8 TB? How are they created? Can you tell me a way?

10/28/2016 at 10:47

The article should be corrected (I’ll do it now), sorry.
2 TB limitation. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table (about FAT32)

10/28/2016 at 13:43

Dmitry, then the last. I have an external Seagate GoFlex 3TB hard drive, so it was FAT32 out of the box. So somehow everything is ambiguous ... There is some unknown witchcraft that can format disks that exceed 2TB in FAT32. By the way, I read from your link that the 2TB limit is for the 512 byte sector, and for the 4096 byte sector the limit is 16TB. I’m completely confused ...

10/29/2016 at 08:58

There is confusion here for me too, I'm not a super expert on file system restrictions: I haven’t seen FAT32 partitions under Windows for more than 2 TB, and this restriction is usually indicated. There is different information about theoretical maximums everywhere - 8 Tb (as it was in the article), you specified 16 Tb.

But I just found it in Google: Used guiformat to format partition as FAT32 using 65,536 Allocation unit size, this person writes about how he formatted 4 TB in FAT32 to put on Playstation and it seems to work.

10/29/2016 at 09:08

Thanks, Dmitry, I will try!

11/25/2016 at 15:15

no. alas, these are the disadvantages of fat32, namely the limitation of 2TB. and if there are crutches, then it’s not a fact that it will work stably

11/17/2016 at 14:39

Thank you very much helped out!

12/27/2016 at 15:29

01/03/2017 at 12:59

Fat32format refused to format a 64 gig flash drive. I gave an error without even starting.
The command line took up formatting, 1% in 40 seconds ... as a result, an hour later, an error "the volume is too large for fat32"
I solved the problem using the program Aomei Partition Assistant. She formatted everything without unnecessary questions and troubles. In two clicks.
And thank God for having killed half a day on this formatting.

02/13/2017 at 03:37

Tell me what the end of the formatting process looks like. Maybe this is a stupid question, but I don’t see the message “formatting completed successfully”.

04/01/2017 at 11:19

Damn, I suffered for so long with other programs, downloaded this one, and not a minute passed before it was done. Really works thanks

04/29/2017 at 22:29

I have this question. I accidentally formatted a 2TB drive into Fat 32 (fast formatting) with the usb flash boot to dos program. the process ran in a few seconds, the disk became logical inactive in fat 32, but the information about its fullness did not change in the properties and in the programs for working with disks. only 180 GB of 2 terabytes is free. I did not understand what the program did. Formatted or not, and if not, then why is the drive full in the properties? I mixed up the disks for formatting, and I would like to somehow get everything back.

04/30/2017 at 08:42

And how does it appear in Windows Disk Management? As a single section or otherwise?

10.20.2017 at 23:57

Good afternoon, there was a problem. I wanted to make a Windows 10 system image on my WD My passport Iltra 500 Gb hard drive. I did not know that formatting would happen in FAT 32. is it possible to fix and return the volume?

10.21.2017 at 09:23

Hello, i.e. Did you make a “bootable USB flash drive” on this disk? Well, in general, yes, you can format it in NTFS manually (ideally, use "disk management" - Win + R, enter diskmgmt.msc, delete the partitions on the disk, create a new partition on the entire disk, format it in NTFS).

10.21.2017 at 23:29

Thank you Dmitry! Everything worked out

11.28.2017 at 12:26

Thank you so much. The article is useful, it helped a lot. The author is well done!

11.29.2017 at 16:27

Thank you It was possible to format the 64GB flash drive only through the fat32format program.

02/03/2018 at 13:28

Hello! Tell me, please, if there are already files on the disk and I need to format the disk in fat32, will nothing happen to them? They will not suffer?

02/04/2018 at 08:16

Hello. Will suffer. When formatting, they are erased. Search the Internet for how to convert a disk to FAT32 without losing data.

02/04/2018 at 09:34

And who can answer the question ... I used a flash drive to transfer games to the Xbox. Naturally needed the Fat32 file system. The standard win7 tools did not allow formatting in this file system and I used the AOMEI Partition Assistant. After about a year of using a flash drive to transfer games to xbox, I again resort to using AOMEI for formatting, but the flash drive is no longer displayed in this program. From manipulations for a year - I used this flash drive a couple of times to create a boot disk with Windows 7. Then formatting happened. Theoretically, nothing particularly messy should have happened, but the fact is that after creating the boot disk, the flash drive was no longer seen by the AOMEI program.

02/05/2018 at 10:27

It’s strange. Maybe a coincidence? You can try to check whether it is visible in diskpart approximately as described here: https://remontka.pro/delete-partitions-usb/

05/17/2018 at 03:02

I would like to ask. who did not have fat32 on the hard one got fat32

06/16/2018 at 12:19

Thank! He formatted a 64GB flash drive, was in exFat format and Windows only offered it or NTFS. The program was updated with a bang.

08/09/2018 at 10:44

Hello, I formatted a 500 GB disk from your prompt in fat32, but there was an NTFS system but the TV still doesn’t see it. Tell me why? 2017 TV but not expensive. what's the reason on tv? 32 GB flash drive. He sees.

08/09/2018 at 10:58

Hello. In theory, the reason may be a lack of power for the hard drive from the TV or, which is also possible, the presence of several partitions on it - i.e. the main part and some kind of hidden (look at the "disk management" in Windows).

08/12/2018 at 18:55

Dmitry is the main section, once again I deleted the section and created it in Fat32 in the SwissKnife program and still the TV does not see the hard one. I even began to see a car TV disc even though it’s already revolutionary, but can’t see a home one. But thanks anyway for the answer.

01/13/2019 at 22:28

Good evening. The program does not see the ssd drive I want to format. Three hard drives are visible on the hdd (C, D, E) drive: and the SSD (K) 256 G is not visible. When I connect a USB flash drive - it sees.

01/14/2019 at 11:51

Hello. And if you simply format it through the command line in Diskpart? There must see.

03/10/2019 at 20:30

Thank you, I formatted a FAT32 drive to 640GB right away, but it became 90GB, right?

03/11/2019 at 08:34

No, this should not be. It’s strange.
If you suddenly need to return gigabytes, use "Windows Disk Management", delete all partitions, create one new one for the entire disk space.

03/12/2019 at 12:10

Dmitry, I'm sorry, I misled myself and you, when formatting for the first time, I set the cluster size to 4096 like a flash drive, and now I left the size as suggested by your program 32768 and my 640 GB returned to FAT32, thanks again, everything is fine .

Note: After sending a comment, it does not appear on the page immediately. Everything is in order - your message has been received. Responses to comments and their publication are carried out daily in the afternoon, sometimes more often. Come back.

How to format a hard drive in FAT32?

So, we went directly to the very issue of formatting the hard drive in FAT32. As you would expect, a hard disk can be formatted in two ways: standard Windows tools and third-party programs. The first method will not require you to use additional software, the second one can help out in those situations when the system cannot format the disk using the standard method.

Method 1: formatting the hard drive with standard Windows tools

1. Open Windows Explorer in the "This Computer" section, where all disks connected to the computer will be displayed. Click on the disk with which further work will be carried out with the right mouse button and select the item in the displayed context menu "Format".

2. A window will appear on the screen to configure disk formatting options. In block "File system" you will need to note "FAT32". If necessary, name the volume label, and then start formatting by clicking the button "To begin".

3. The system will warn that during the formatting process all information will be erased from the disk. If the information contained on the disk is important to you, be sure to back it up before starting formatting.

The duration of the formatting will depend on the size of the hard disk. As soon as the procedure is completed, on your screen you will see a window with the following contents:

Method 2: format the hard disk using FAT32 Format

Now let's move on to the formatting process if you need to use third-party software to complete this procedure.

In this case, we recommend that you use the program Fat32 format, which has a simple interface, is not overloaded with various functions, and is also distributed free of charge. You can download this program by the link at the end of this article, which will redirect you to the official website of the developer (to download the program, just click on the image of the utility).

What is noteworthy, the program does not require installation on a computer, so immediately after its launch you will need to first select the current disk, which will be formatted in FAT32. If necessary, change the volume label to an arbitrary name near the item "Volume label".

In the event that you use the utility after unsuccessful formatting of the disk with standard Windows tools, we recommend that you uncheck the box "Quick Format", but it should be borne in mind that in this case, the formatting duration can be delayed in order. To start formatting, all you have to do is click on the button "Start".

Confirm the formatting is started (after this, it will not be possible to cancel the procedure, which means that all information contained on the disk will be erased).

As soon as “Done” appears in the program status, it means that your hard disk has been formatted, and you can safely close the utility.

How to format an external hard drive in FAT32

In this manual, I want to talk about several ways to format an external hard drive in FAT32 on Windows 10. The whole point is that the developers from Microsoft simply removed this file system from the list of available in the standard formatting procedure, which can be run from the explorer, counting completely outdated in every way. Meanwhile, it is FAT32 that is most convenient if you connect your external drive to a smartphone, tablet or other gadget to copy photos, videos, or make a backup copy of important information.


I will show you all three ways that will help you quickly and easily format a removable disk in FAT32 on Windows 10. Let's go.

Windows Disk Management

To work with disks connected to the system in the Windows 10 operating system, there is a special disk manager that can do almost everything a user needs! To open it, press the key combination Win + R, in the window that appears, enter the command diskmgmt.msc and click OK.

After that, the "Disk Management" window should appear. It will list all the physical and logical media that Windows sees. We find there a connected external hard drive. In my case, this is drive J.

Be careful! Make no mistake when choosing a drive! It is necessary to check it by letter and by volume! Otherwise, if you make a mistake, delete the data from another medium!

Next, you need to right-click on the selected drive and select the "Format" item in the menu that opens. This window should appear:

Here it is necessary to select the FAT32 item in the “File System” list to format the external drive in such a file system. Click on the “OK” button, wait for the completion of the process.

Formatting via the command line

In any version of the Windows operating system, you can always format the external hard drive in FAT32 via the command line. To do this, first run the command prompt. To do this, press the key combination Win + R, enter the command cmd and click on the "OK" button. In response, a black console window should appear. The command to format the disk looks like this:

Here you also need to correctly specify the letter of the desired drive. After entering the command, press the Enter button. In my case, it looks like this:

It remains only to wait for the completion of the process. Its duration depends on the volume of the external drive - the larger it is, the longer the process!

+ Hard disk formatting program

The third way to format removable media in FAT32 is to use a third-party disk formatting program, which can be found on the Internet in large numbers. I can recommend a simple free utility FAT32Format. Download it here. It is easy, intuitive and free. After starting, you will see this window:

In the “Drive” list, select the drive letter and click on the “Start” button. That's all! При включенном быстром форматировании (галочка «Quick Format») форматирование внешнего жесткого диска займёт немного времени.

Коментарии(6)

Саша: при попытке отформатировать флешку из exFAT в FAT32 у меня ошибка выдаётся, что занято другим процессом. What to do?

То же самое было. Форматнула обычным способом в NFTS, потом без проблем прога форматнула в FAT32

Если выдало ошибку при смене exFAТ нужно просто повторить попытку

1. Попробуйте запустить программу от имени администратора.

2. На сколько я понял у вас Windows XP (поправьте меня если это не так), на самом деле если используется старая версия операционной системы, то причин может быть много, например не соответствие программы и ОС, то есть утилита выпущена под новые версии Винды, также виновником могут быть старые драйвера и т.д.

3. Выполните обследование диска на ошибки, процедура описана в статье, имеющей название "Проверка и исправление ошибок жёсткого диска средствами Windows" – вот ссылка – https://pcompstart.com/windows/259-proverka-jestkogo-diska.

4. Я давно всем рекомендую переходить на десятую версию операционной системы во избежание именно таких неисправностей.

Hello! There are problems! Fat32format does not see the disk! Although the regular "formatter" Windows XP finds it without problems.

1. Simply restart your computer.
2. If it doesn’t help, then read these articles, they described similar problems.
https://pcompstart.com/tips/260-nizkourovnevoe-formatirovanie-fleshki
https://pcompstart.com/tips/270-kak-otformatirovat-fleshku
3. You can kill the process manually in the task manager, this publication tells how to do it https://pcompstart.com/tips/214-kak-udalit-virus-vruchnuyu.

But here I have a bad luck: when I try to format a flash drive from exFAT to FAT32, I get an error, which is taken by another process. What to do?

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