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, you will no longer see FAT32 as a format option for drives larger than 32GB. For example, if you plug in a 64GB thumb drive, Windows will not show the FAT32 option while trying to format.
This is because the file format is old and has severe limitations. For instance, FAT32 formatted drives cannot hold individual files larger than 4GB. As you can guess, that is a severe limitation because most video files can be larger than 4GB, depending on their length and video quality.
File size limit is one of the reasons why you need to format a USB drive in NTFS file system format while creating a Windows bootable drive.
That said, if you understand all the limitations and yet like to format a drive in FAT32, you can do it. You must take a different route than the “right-click -> format” option we all know. Let me show you how.
Important: Before formatting, backup data in the drive. Formatting will erase all data permanently.
Table of contents:
Command to format a drive in FAT32
You can format large drives in FAT32 format with a single-line command in the Command Prompt.
Since we are using the Command Prompt, you need to know the drive letter of the USB drive before formatting it. This is because we need the drive letter to target the drive. Once you have the drive letter, we can use it to format the drive in FAT32.
1. First, plug in the USB drive—next, open File Explorer. In 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 Command Prompt from 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 the drive’s size, 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
6. After successfully formatting, you will receive a “Format complete” message.
You have successfully formatted the drive in FAT32 file system format.
Use PowerShell to format a drive in FAT32
Like the Command Prompt, you can also use 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 of the USB drive.
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 uncomfortable 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. Select the drive you want to format in FAT32 on the main screen. In my case, I want to format a USB drive in FAT32 format. So, I selected that drive.
3. If you want, 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 you 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.
As you can see, it is pretty simple to format drives in FAT32.
I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.
If you are stuck or need some help, send an email, and I will try to help as much as possible.