When we want to format a volume that is larger than 32GB, Windows default format option in the File Explorer right-click context won’t list FAT32 in the drop-down menu of the ‘File system’ nor in Disk Management, you’ll only see
exFAT(default), but how can we create a FAT32 volume on a 64GB or larger USB Drive?
Why would we insist on FAT32 partition anyway?
Check the table below：
|NTFS||Yes||Read Only||Read Only||Yes||No||No/Yes|
|exFAT||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (with ExFAT packages)||Yes (with MBR, not GUID)||No/Yes|
FAT32 is supported by every OS and Game console, NTFS is read only on macOS, exFAT is acceptable by modern OS but with conditions as for me, FAT32 is for the USB drive to transfer data between my PC and Mac, and the drive is 64GB, I’ll use the alternative ways of creating a FAT32 volume
We can using the following steps to create a partition with FAT32 file system which is large than 32GB in size:
format /fs:fat32 x:to format (replace X with the the real drive letter you’d like to format)
Yto confirm the warning
(takes 1 min from 0% to 1%)
If you don’t know which drive letter is, use the following commands to check and format in PowerShell:
Then PowerShell will start to format this volume, but this operation is buggie, I closed out the PowerShell window after typing those commands, but when I open Disk Management, it is still formatting, when I right-click on this volume and click Cancel format, guess what? nothing happened, the format process continued, and it does take me 5 minutes to reach 10%, and howtogeek shared his time on this operation: almost one hour on 64GB FAT32 formatting, also many other users had reported that this method is super slow on larger drives, Do we have a faster alternative?
Yes, read on
Side note: Don’t close Disk Management when it’s formatting a volume, or next time it will hang when you re-open it, and after it reaches 100%, the partition will become
So don’t close the PowerShell or CMD tool when formatting, if you do have to cancel it, press Ctrl+C
PowerShell and diskpart performance slow when formatting to FAT32, we don’t have to wait that long to get a large FAT32 partition ready, alternatively, we can use other third party FAT32 format tool to save us a lot of time, the tool I’m about to use is Partition Expert Free Edition (freeware and portable), download this partition manager and we’ll start with the following step:
If the USB drive you connected shows as ‘unallocated space’, you can create a large FAT32 partition directly in Partition Expert, to do so please follow these step:
This alternative method is faster than the built-in tools, it formats to FAT32 partition within seconds
Sometimes the USB Drive is NTFS formatted and we have stored data on it, we can of course copy data to other volume first and format the drive to FAT32, and then restore data back to the drive, that is OK when you don’t have much files on the drive, but the copy out and copy in process will take much time when the drive is fulled with data or almost full
Instead, we can directly convert the NTFS drive to FAT32 without data loss in Partition Expert or our freeware NTFS to FAT32 Converter, click on the link to learn more and download
How to convert NTFS to FAT32 in Partition Expert:
This operation is fast too, it converts the files system in seconds, you see the screenshot above, it take less than a second to reach 95%, that also the time I press the Win+Shift+S shortcut to take the screenshot in Windows 10.
Now let’s run PowerShell again to check if we have the partition created/converted