FAT32 is one of the most popular and versatile file formats for a drive. Follow these steps to format a drive in FAT32 in Windows 10.
In recent versions of Windows 10, you will no longer see FAT32 as the format option for drives that are larger than 32GB. This is because the file format is pretty old and has some severe limitations. For example, FAT32 formatted drives cannot hold individual files that are larger than 4GB. That's one of the reasons why you need to format a USB drive with NTFS while creating Windows 10 bootable drive.
That being said, you can still format large drives in FAT32 format. You just have to take a different route than the "right-click -> format" option we all know. Let me show you how.
Important: Before formatting backup any data in the drive. Formatting will erase all data permanently.
Jump to the method:
Command to Format Drive in FAT32
With a single line command, you can format large drives in FAT32 format. Since we are using the command prompt, you need to know its drive letter before formatting the drive. This is because we need the drive letter to target the drive.
1. First, plug in the USB drive and open the File Explorer. In the File Explorer, identify your USB drive and note down the drive letter. We are going to need it in the next step.
2. Once you have the drive letter, open the Command Prompt by searching for it in the start menu. Alternatively, you can also use the run command
3. In the command prompt window, execute the below command. Don't forget to replace "Drive_Letter" with the actual drive letter. In my case, the drive letter is
Format /FS:FAT32 Drive_Letter:
4. Depending on how big the drive is, the formatting process can take some time.
5. Once the FAT32 formatting is complete, you will be asked to enter a drive name. So, type a name and press Enter.
6. After the successful formatting, you will receive a "Format complete" message.
With that, you have successfully formatted the drive in FAT32 format.
Just like with the command prompt, you can also use the PowerShell to format a drive in FAT32 format.
1. Open PowerShell by searching for it in the start menu.
2. In the PowerShell window, execute the below command while replacing Drive_Letter with the actual drive letter.
Format /FS:FAT32 Drive_Letter:
3. Depending on the drive size, it can take some time to format the drive. This is because the above command doesn't do a quick format.
4. Once the formatting is complete, you will be asked to enter a new drive name. Type a new drive name and press Enter.
5. As soon as you press the Enter button, you will receive a "Format Complete" message.
That is it.
Use a Free Third-Party Application
If you are not comfortable using the command prompt or PowerShell, you can use a free and portable software called FAT32 format.
1. First, download FAT32 Format software from the official website and execute the downloaded exe file. Being portable software, there is no need to install it.
2. On the main screen, select the drive you want to format in FAT32. In my case, I want to format a USB drive in FAT32 format. So, I selected that drive.
3. If you want to, you can change the drive name by entering a new name in the Volume Lable field. Once that is done, click on the "Start" button.
4. You will receive a warning message telling that you will lose all data in the drive that you are about to format. Click on the "Yes" button to continue.
That is it. The software will instantly format your drive in FAT32 format.