Formatting the drive to FAT32 in Windows 10

FAT32 is a versatile file system that has been around for decades. Unfortunately, Windows 10 does not allow users to format USB drives or hard drives larger than 32 GB to FAT32. Fortunately, there are ways to do this.

What is FAT32?

FAT stands for File Allocation Table and is a file system commonly used on USB drives. FAT was introduced in 1977 and is compatible with almost all operating systems. This means that Macs, computers, Linux machines and even phones can read FAT files.

Due to its near-universal compatibility, FAT is an ideal format for sharing files between devices. For this reason, most USB drives and SD cards have been formatted by the manufacturer in FAT32 format, as they work right out of the box without additional formatting.

Why is FAT32 disabled in Windows 10?

Despite the fact that FAT32 is so versatile, Windows 10 does not allow disks to be formatted in FAT32 format. It may sound like a strange choice; however, there is a reason for this.

Because the FAT32 file system is so old, there are two important limitations. The first is that the FAT32 file architecture cannot be used on disks larger than 16 TB. However, another disadvantage of FAT32 can be a larger headache: FAT32 cannot handle individual files larger than 4 GB.

FAT32 has been replaced by the more modern exFAT (Extended File Allocation) file system. The file size of exFAT is larger than FAT32. The only downside to exFAT is that it was developed by Microsoft and therefore has all the patents. This means that the ability to manipulate the structure of an exFAT file, such as read, write, and repair operations, must be licensed. Unfortunately, this means that there may be compatibility issues when using exFAT. This makes FAT32 a little easier to use despite the file size limitations.

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Powershell (command line)

If you want to format the drive in NTFS or exFAT format, you can do so with the standard Windows 10 formatting tool. However, you cannot use the Format tool to use the FAT32 file system.

Fortunately, there is a way to do this with Powershell.

Before you begin, connect the formattable storage device to your computer in FAT32. When you connect a drive, write down the letter assigned to it.


A: Before proceeding, make sure your data is backed up. Formatting erases all data stored on the drive.

To start the Powershell command prompt, right-click the Start button and select “Run” from the menu. This opens the Run command window. Alternatively, you can press Win + R launches the Run command box. Type powershell and click OK or press Enter.

With the Powershell window open, type the following command and replace “F” with the letter of the drive that you want to format in FAT32:

Finally, press the Enter key. You will be prompted to warn that all drive data will be deleted. press Yeah confirm the design. Let the computer do its job, and before you know it, the drive will be formatted in FAT32 format.

Third Party Software

If you’re not happy with the command line and want something with a graphical user interface, you can opt for third-party software. There are several options available, including (but not limited to) those listed below:

1. Mini Trainer Help FAT32

Mini-Assistant Trainer FAT32 is a nice and easy solution if you want to format the drive in FAT32 format. The interface is clean and provides you with all the information about your hard drives and partitions. You can also use Mini Aide to create a new partition and delete or rename an existing partition. This tool provides all the necessary functions but also very little RAM.

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2. Free EaseUS Partition Master

Free EaseUS Partition Master is without a doubt one of the most used and most popular tools for all your sheet music related solutions. You can expand the hard disk partition, manage disk space, delete a partition, rename it, etc. The best part is that unlike other partition management programs, it does not have ads even in the free version of the tool. In addition, you can convert disks and partitions in several formats, including FAT32. This tool has a user-friendly interface, and you can interact with existing partitions and disks at the bottom of the interface.

3. Rufus

Rufus is a very small, lightweight, easy to use and powerful format conversion tool. This is a standalone tool that allows you to convert and create a bootable USB drive in a variety of formats. Because the app is a little over 1MB, it works pretty fast and allows you to create an ISO stick for a USB stick.

Are you using the FAT32 file system with USB drives, SD cards, and hard drives? We can also show how to format a USB flash drive in Windows using other file systems.

Image credit: Drive

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