FAT32 is the standard file system for external drives, particularly removable USB flash drives, and SD memory cards. It is the most compatible file system, with support for major devices and operating systems such as Windows and macOS. As a result, many users prefer to format USB to FAT32 with Windows 10/11. However, when you try to format a USB drive larger than 32GB in Windows Explorer, no "FAT32" option appears. So, in this article, we'll look at the methods to format a USB drive to FAT32 on Windows 10/11.
See the scenarios with solutions in the table below for an overview of the problem.
The USB Flash Drive Is 32GB or Less
● Format USB to FAT32 With Windows 7/8/10/11 File Explorer
The USB Flash Drive Is 64GB or Larger
● Format 64GB or Larger USB to FAT32 Using CMD
Note: When you format a USB flash drive, all the device's data is erased. Before formatting a drive, backup the data of all of your essential files on the drive you want to save.
In this article
How to Format a 32GB or Less USB Flash Drive to FAT32?
Here are the two simple methods for formatting a 32GB or less USB flash drive to FAT32.
Method 1: Format USB to FAT32 With Windows 7/8/10/11 File Explorer
Connect your USB drive to a Windows PC or laptop and allow Windows to recognize and assign a drive letter to it. Explore it in Windows Explorer and then comply with the instructions to format the drive to FAT32 as preferred.
Step 1. Open File Explorer by pressing Windows + E.
Step 2. Right-click the USB drive you want to format and select Format.
Step 3. Select FAT32 as the target file system, check the Quick Format box and click Start.
Step 4. After that, your USB drive should be formatted with the FAT32 file system.
To double-check, launch File Explorer, right-click your USB drive, and select Properties. A window will appear, and you should notice that the file system has been changed to FAT32.
Method 2: Format USB to FAT32 With Windows 7/8/10/11 Disk Management
Disk-management is a free built-in Windows utility that assists users with standard disk partition-related functions. It is prepared to assist you whenever you need to format a 32GB or less USB flash drive to FAT32.
Step 1. In Windows 10, right-click This PC/My Computer and select Manage.
Step 2. Select Disk Management from the Storage menu.
Step 3. Right-click the USB drive you want to format and select Format.
Step 4. Select FAT32 from the File system drop-down menu and click OK.
How to Format a 64GB or Larger USB Flash Drive to FAT32?
Here are the three simple methods for formatting a 64GB or larger USB flash drive to FAT32.
Method 1: Format 64GB or Larger USB to FAT32 Using CMD
With a single-line command in the Command Prompt, you can format 64GB or a larger USB flash drive to FAT32.
When using the Command Prompt, it is required to know the USB drive's drive letter before formatting it. It is essential to target the drive. You can format the drive in FAT32 once you have the drive letter.
Step 1. Plug in the USB drive first, then launch File Explorer.
Identify your USB drive in File Explorer and write down the drive letter. It will be required in the following step.
Step 2. Once you've assessed the drive letter, launch Command Prompt from the Start menu.
You can also use the run command cmd instead.
Step 3. Execute the following command in the Command Prompt window.
Remember to replace Drive Letter with the correct drive letter.
Format /FS:FAT32 Drive_Letter:
The formatting process can take some time depending on the size of the drive.
Step 4. When the FAT32 formatting is finished, you will be prompted to enter a drive name.
So, enter a name and hit Enter. After formatting successfully, you will see the message "Format complete."
Step 5. You've successfully formatted the drive with the FAT32 file system.
Method 2: Format 64GB or Larger USB to FAT32 Using PowerShell
Following the steps below, you can use PowerShell to format a drive in FAT32.
Step 1. Open PowerShell by browsing for it in the start menu.
Step 2. In the PowerShell window, run the following command, replacing Drive Letter with the actual drive letter of the USB drive.
Format /FS:FAT32 Drive_Letter:
Formatting the drive can take some time, depending on its size. Once the formatting is complete, you will be prompted to enter a new drive name. Enter a new drive name.
Step 3. Press Enter and see the message "Format Complete."
Method 3: Format 64GB or Larger USB to FAT32 Using Third-party Formatter Tool
Here are the 2 third-party tools you can use to format larger USB to FAT32. FAT32 Format and Rufus are both free with GUI Interface.
Format 64GB or Larger USB to FAT32 Using FAT32 format
If you are unsure about using the command prompt or PowerShell, you can use FAT32 format, free and portable software.
Launch FAT32 Format software from the official website and run the downloaded .exe file. There is no need to install it because it is portable software.
Step 1. Select the drive you want to format on the main screen in FAT32.
You can change the drive name if you wish by entering a new name in the Volume Label field. Once that is completed, click Start.
Step 2. A warning message will appear informing you that you will lose all data on the drive you are about to format. To proceed, click OK.
That's all. The software will format your drive in FAT32 format quickly.
Format 64GB or Larger USB to FAT32 Using Rufus
If your USB drive is larger than 32 GB, you'll need to format it with a third-party program like Rufus.
Numerous programs can format USB drives, but Rufus is tiny and portable. This means you can put Rufus on a USB drive, plug it into any Windows computer, and format other drives while you're on the go.
Step 1. Download Rufus and double-click the.exe file to launch the application.
Check that your USB drive is selected. Then, from the Boot selection dropdown, choose Non bootable.
Step 2. Next, select FAT32 from the File system dropdown.
Also, under the Volume label, you can change the name of your USB drive. Then, to format your drive, click the Start button. You can format it to FAT32 in a few seconds.
How To Recover Lost Data After Formatting USB to FAT32?
With the methods described above, formatting a USB drive to FAT32 is now relatively simple. However, after formatting the flash drive, you may lose important data. Wondershare Recoverit is a powerful USB data recovery tool that can recover any lost, deleted, or formatted files.
Recover over 1000 types of data types, like photos, videos, emails, files, audios, etc.
Recover data from numerous scenarios. Be it due to files being overwritten, a system crash, accidental formatting or virus attack, Recoverit is able to make a total recovery.
Recover from any storage device, such as Hard Drive, Desktop, USB Drive, SSD, SD card, recycle bin, etc.
Ensure 100% data safe and easy operations.
How To Use Recoverit to Recover Lost Data from FAT32 USB Drives
In this section, we'll use the Windows version of Recoverit Hard Drive Data Recovery software to recover FAT32 data on Windows. The Mac version operates similarly. Now, download and install the undelete recovery software, and then perform the following simple operations to recover your deleted or formatted items from the FAT32 drive.
Step 1. Choose the drive/file location.
To begin recovering deleted or formatted items from an exFAT drive, select External Devices Recovery data recovery mode. Check that your exFAT drive is connected to the computer and that it can be recognized. To proceed, please select your exFAT drive from the list and click Start.
Step 2. Scan.
Recoverit will launch a quick scan to look for deleted or formatted files. If it is unable to locate your data, you can scan again using the "All-around Recovery" data recovery mode. It will thoroughly search the FAT32 drive for additional files.
Step 3. Preview and Recover.
The found files on your exFAT drive will be listed in the "File Type" or "Path" category after the scan. You can preview the files on the FAT32 USB drive to see if your lost data can be recovered. Then, simply select the files you want to recover from the FAT32 drive and click Recover to save them to your computer's partition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Why can't I format the USB to FAT32?
A1: Here are the possible reasons why your USB drive can't format to the FAT32 file system:
- Your USB drive may contain more than 32 GB of data.
- You formatted your USB drive with a different file system, such as NTFS.
- Your USB drive's file system may be corrupted or damaged.
Q2. How do I format a 128GB flash drive to FAT32?
A2: AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is strongly recommended for formatting a 128GB USB flash drive to a FAT32 file system in Windows. It has valuable features, such as creating and managing a second partition on a USB flash drive and adding non-contiguous unallocated space to the partition you want to extend.
Q3. How do I format a 64GB USB to FAT32 free?
A3: First, download the AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to format 64GB USB to FAT32. Then, follow the steps:
Step 1. Locate the 64GB USB, right-click and select Format Partition.
Step 2. A small window will appear. Choose FAT32, then click OK..
Step 3. You'll return to the main console. Confirm your operation by clicking Apply and Proceed..
Q4. What is the largest drive size for FAT32?
A4: For Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, FAT32 file systems support a maximum partition size of 32 GB. This limit is an artificial limit that you can resolve. There are several ways to format the FAT32 file system to a large hard drive or to create a 32+GB partition.
Q5. Does Windows 11 support FAT32?
A5: Windows 11 does not support FAT32. However, it is mainly used today that many users prefer to format USB flash drives to FAT32 with Windows 11/10 due to its superior compatibility with various devices and operating systems. You can follow the abovementioned methods with step-by-step instructions to do this.