The FAT32 (File Allocation Table) format is the oldest out of the three system formats on Windows. Although it is old, it has one advantage over all the other formats, and that is the compatibility factor.
Unlike the NTFS, all operating systems can read a FAT32 format. It is also one of the reasons most new drives are pre-formatted into FAT32. However, the FAT32 system does not support volumes of size greater than 2TB or files bigger than 4GB. You will have to use the NTFS or exFAT formats for that.
Follow this article to the end with us to learn how to format your USB or any other drive into FAT32.
How to Format to FAT32 System?
The FAT32 is an upgrade to the original FAT16 format with an even smaller volume Limit. You can also consider the exFAT system, which has better compatibility than NTFS. Nevertheless, here are some FAT32 formatting methods.
Using Windows Interface
You can directly format your drive from Windows explorer. Follow these steps to format your drive into FAT32 format.
- Open File Explorer.
- Right-click on the drive you want to format and click on Format.
- Choose FAT32 from the File system drop-down menu. Rename the volume label to change the name of the volume after formatting.
- Click on Start to start the formatting disk drive.
You can also use a command line in Powershell to format your drive into the FAT32 system. Here’s how you do it:
- Press Windows Key + X and click on Windows Powershell(admin).
format /FS:FAT32 DRIVE_LETTERand press Enter
Just remember to replace the DRIVE_LETTER with the letter of the drive you want to format.
The command prompt can also be helpful while formatting the drive. You will have to use the disk part command to check and select the drive you want to format.
Here’re the steps:
- Open the command prompt by searching for
cmdin the search bar.
diskpartand press Enter.
list diskand press enter. It will list out all the available disks currently connected to your computer.
- Type and execute
Select disk <disk_number>. Replace the disk number with the number under ‘Disk ###’
format /FS:FAT32 quickto format the selected disk.
The disk management app allows the user to check all the details about the disks in the computer system. Here’s how you format from the program.
- Press Windows Key + X and click on Disk management.
- Right-click on the disk you want to format
- Click on Format.
- Pick FAT32 from the dropdown menu under File system and click OK.
Using Linux system
Windows OS cannot format your device if many sectors in the drive are corrupt. But unlike Windows, Linux systems can format a corrupt drive as well. Linux will set aside any corrupt sectors and make a usable drive from the remaining untainted memory sectors.
- Open terminal.
- Run these commands one by one in the terminal to format your drive:
Replace the ‘XX’ with the assigned drive letter.
How to Format to FAT32 in macOS?
The macOS includes the Disk Utility app to manage all the disk drives connected to your computer. You can format your USB into a FAT32 format from this app. Follow these steps to learn how:
- Open the Spotlight by pressing Command + Space.
- Launch the Disk Utility app.
- Choose the drive you want to format and click on Erase.
- Choose MS-DOS (FAT) and input the drive name.
- Press Erase to format that drive into FAT32 system.
You can also use the terminal to format a drive into the FAT32 system.
- Open the Terminal.
This will list out all the disks and volumes on your computer.
- Locate your USB driver from the list and note down its ‘IDENTIFIER’
- Type and execute
sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 MBRFormat /dev/IDENTIFIER. Replace ‘IDENTIFIER’ with the previously noted disk identifier.
Why Can’t I Format My Drive Into FAT32 Format?
There are two possible causes if you’re unable to format your drive. One of them is the disk drive being corrupted, and the other is the storage device’s size greater than 32GB.
If you suspect that your drive is corrupt, the formatting may fail completely.
As we’ve mentioned before, you may use a Linux OS to format a corrupt drive. However, if your drive is greater than 32 GBs, Windows will not be able to format it into the FAT32 system. You can either use NTFS or exFAT, which supports greater capacities.
Although the command prompt and disk management program can force a high-capacity drive into a FAT32 format, it will take a very long time to complete. It might be a good idea to format to exFAT as it is considered a middle ground format with higher storage support and features.