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How to Format a USB Drive to FAT32 on Windows 10

Make sure your USB drive is selected. Then, click the “Boot selection” dropdown and select “Non bootable”:

Format to FAT32 for USB or External Hard Drive in Windows 10 [Four Solutions]

Need to format to FAT32? When you fail to format a USB flash drive, external hard drive, pen drive, SD memory card to FAT 32 in Windows 10, you can refer to provided solutions on this page. It will help you effectively format FAT32 in Windows 10 by using CMD/DiskPart/PowerShell command line or professional FAT32 formatter.

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On Windows 10/8.1/8/7, there are typically four ways to format to FAT32, which has the greatest compatibility compared to other file systems. For small capacity flash drives, pen drives, or SD cards that range from 2GB-32GB, any of the four methods are workable. However, for USB flash drives, HDDs, or external hard drives that exceed 32GB, the applicable tools will be restricted to the third-party best USB format tools and the Windows Command Prompt.

For both average and advanced users, the four ways can help you. The first one can save your time as much as possible.

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Can’t format to FAT32 in Windows 10 with all given disk formatting tools? Directly jump to the final part to get additional fixes for “Cannot Format to FAT32” in Windows 10.

About File Systems (FAT32 Format, FAT16, FAT12, NTFS)

In computing, a file system controls how data is stored and retrieved. The common Windows file systems include FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS, etc. Users can convert their USB flash drives or external hard drives between different file systems. In the chart below, we have listed features of four common file systems, giving detailed information from max partition size to the compatibility of these file systems.

Notice: Formatting a USB drive or external hard drive will remove all existing files on the device. Please make sure you have backed up files before formatting to avoid further data loss.

Solution 1. Format to FAT32 Using FAT32 Formatter Windows 10

USB requirements: none

A professional third-party Windows 10 FAT32 formatting tool can make the formatting process simple and secure. We recommend you try EaseUS Partition Master with its Format feature. Besides FAT32, it also supports format USB to NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, and ReFS.

Download this partition magic now, and follow the simple steps to freely format USB to FAT32 in Window 10.

Windows 11/10/8/7 100% Secure EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition is incredibly simple to use.

  • Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose “Format”.
  • Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and Cluster size, then click “OK”.
  • Click “Yes” to continue.
  • Click the “Execute 1 Task(s)” button and click “Apply” to format the hard drive partition.

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With this FAT32 formatted, you can also repartition the volumes on your HDD/SSD, external storage devices. Follow to learn how to partition a hard drive on your own.

Solution 2. Format FAT32 Windows 10 via File Explorer

USB requirements: no more than 32GB. Otherwise, you can only choose to format USB to NTFS.

To format USB under 32GB to FAT32 in Windows 10 Explorer, follow the three steps:

Step 1. Connect USB or external hard drive to Windows 10 PC.

Step 2. Open File Explorer, locate and right-click on the USB drive, select “Format”.

Step 3. Set the FAT32 as the target file system, tick “Quick Format” and click “Start” to start the formatting.

When the process completes, click “OK” to confirm. And now your USB is FAT32.

Solution 3. Format USB/External Drive to FAT32 with Disk Management

USB requirements: Similar to the Explorer, your USB drive has to be under 32GB in order to format to FAT32 within the program

Follow the 3-step guide here to format to FAT32:

Step 1. In Windows 10, go to This PC > Manage > Disk Management.

Step 2. Locate and right-click on your USB flash drive or external hard drive, select “Format”.

Step 3. Set the USB file system to FAT32, tick “Perform a quick format” and click “OK” to confirm.

Solution 4. Format to FAT32 Format Windows 10 Using Command Prompt

USB requirements: none

Some experienced users or administrators prefer to use command lines to execute some operations on Windows PC. It’s also an applicable way to format your flash drive or external hard drive to FAT32 in Windows 10.

Note: Be careful while using command lines on your PC to format USB drive. Any improper operations would cause serious issues.

There are two options for you to use Command Prompt, and if they do work on your issue, share this article to help more users.

Here are the details of how to use CMD, DiskPart, or PowerShell command lines formatting device:

Option 1. Use CMD – Command Prompt/Diskpart Format FAT32

Step 1. Type command prompt in Windows 10 search bar or right-click on “Windows icon” > select “Search”, and type cmd.

Step 2. Right-click on “Command Prompt” and select “Run as Administrator”.

Step 3. Check the USB label and type format /fs:FAT32 o: at the prompt and hit “Enter”. (Replace O: with the drive letter of your USB drive.)

Windows 10 will begin formatting the USB flash drive or external hard drive into FAT32.

Step 4. Type exit when the process has completed.

Option 2. Use DiskPart

Step 1. Type diskpart in Windows search bar and hit Enter.

Step 2. Hit Enter each time when you type the below command lines to quick format hard drive:

  • list disk
  • select disk 2 (Replace 2 with your USB disk number)
  • list volume
  • select volume 10 (Replace 10 with the volume number of the USB drive that you want to format)
  • format fs=fat32 quick

Step 3. Type exit and hit Enter to close the program when DiskPart reports it has successfully formatted the USB.

Option 3. Use PowerShell

Step 1. Right-click on the Windows icon and select “Windows PowerShell Admin”, click “Yes” to open it.

Step 2. Check the USB drive label, type Format /FS:FAT32 o: in PowerShell, and hit Enter.

Step 3.Type exit when the formatting process completes.

Video Guide: 4 Ways to Format to FAT32 in Windows 10

01:30 Method 1. Format the drive in File Explorer
02:13 Method 2. Format the drive in Disk Management
02:46 Method 3. Format the drive using DiskPart
03:49 Method 4. Apply EaseUS Partition Master to Format Drive

Additional Fixes for “Cannot Format to FAT32” in Windows 10

If you met a problem while formatting USB or Windows warns that Windows was unable to complete the format, don’t worry. In this part, you’ll learn why you can’t format to FAT32 in Windows 10 and how to resolve this issue effectively.

Reasons for Why You Can’t Format to FAT32

To find the right solution for your case, it’s important to find out the causes that stop you from formatting devices to FAT32. Here are the main reasons:

  1. 1. File system error, bad sectors exist on USB/external hard drive
  2. 2. The USB drive contains 2 partitions or the partition need for formatting to FAT32 is not the first primary partition
  3. 3. The partition in USB or external hard drive is larger than 32GB
  4. 4. The USB drive or external hard drive is write-protected

So how to resolve these issues, switching your USB drive to FAT32? Follow the quick fixes to troubleshoot the problem of FAT32 format in Windows 10.

Fix 1. Check disk error, fix file system errors or bad sectors

To do so, both the third-party partition manager software – EaseUS Partition Master and Windows Disk Check will work.

Method 1. Use EaseUS Partition Master to check and fix disk error

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Step 1. Open EaseUS Partition Master on your computer. Then, locate the disk, right-click the partition you want to check, and choose “Advanced” > “Check File System”.

Step 2. In the Check File System window, keep the “Try to fix errors if found” option selected and click “Start”.

Step 3. The software will begin checking your partition file system on your disk. When it completes, click “Finish”.

Method 2. Run Disk Check in Windows File Explorer

Step 1. Open File Explorer, locate and right-click the USB or external hard drive, and click “Properties”.

Step 2. Go to “Tools” and click “Check” under Error-checking.

Step 3. Select “Scan and repair drive”.

Or select and check both “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt recovery of back sectors”, then click “Start”.

Fix 2. Delete all partitions and create a new FAT32 partition on USB drive

If your Windows system (version before Windows 8.1) or your USB drive doesn’t support creating two primary partitions, the computer won’t be able to recognize nor format the non-primary partition on the USB drive to FAT32.

The solution to this problem is to delete all existing partitions on USB and create a new FAT32 partition:

Step 1. Connect USB to PC and open Disk Management.

Step 2. Locate and right-click the primary partition on USB and select “Delete Volume”, click “Yes” to confirm.

Step 3. Right-click on the logical partition on the USB drive, select “Delete Volume”.

Step 4. Click “Yes” to confirm.

Step 5. The logical partition will become free space, right-click on it and select “Delete Partition”, click “Yes” to confirm.

Step 6. When the USB becomes unallocated, right-click on the unallocated space and select “New Simple Volume” > “Next”.

Step 7. Follow the on-screen instructions to specify volume size, drive letter, and set file system to FAT32, click “Next” > “Finish” to complete.

After this, you’ve successfully converted your USB or external hard drive to FAT32 and you don’t need to format this drive again.

Fix 3. Select NTFS as the file system or split USB larget partition to smaller FAT32 partitions

As shown in the chart at the beginning, the max size of the FAT32 partition is 32GB, which means you can only format devices smaller than 32GB into this file system.

In other words, when your USB drive partition is larger than 32GB, you can’t format it into FAT32. There are three solutions to this issue:

  • Method 1. Apply EaseUS Partition Master to format USB to FAT32

Unlike Windows built-in tools, EaseUS Partition Master can simply format your USB drive even bigger than 32GB to FAT32 with ease. All you need is to go back to the partition manager to directly format your USB to FAT32 without any limitation.

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  • Method 2. Set NTFS as the file system of your USB drive

NTFS supports saving a single file that is larger than 4GB and supports creating a partition larger than 32GB.

If you only want to keep one partition on the USB drive, make full use of the drive space, the best choice is to set the NTFS as your USB drive.

Method 3. Divide USB partition into small ones (less than 32GB) with FAT32

The other way is to split the USB partition into small ones and format them into FAT32:

Pre-conditions: Windows system (versions after 8.1) and USB drive both support two or more partitions.

Step 1. Use Disk Management to delete the USB partition.

Step 2. Create two or more partitions smaller than 32GB with the FAT32 file system.

Fix 4. Remove USB write protection and format USB to FAT32

When the USB drive is write-protected or locked with a password, you can’t directly format it into FAT32. Here are the detailed steps to resolve this problem:

Step 1. Remove USB write protection and unlock USB

You can refer to this link to remove USB write protection on Windows 10/8/7. Or you can try to use EaseUS M Tool to simply remove the USB lock in 3 steps:

If you don’t consider yourself a pro-computer user and you’re not familiar with command-lines, don’t worry. There are graphical-based solutions to help you remove write-protection from your hard drives, USB drives, and even SD cards.

EaseUS CleanGenius is one of these tools that helps you fix aforementioned issues on your drives without knowing a thing about command-line.

Here’s an easy-to-follow guide on how to use this tool to get your issues sorted:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD and install EaseUS CleanGenius (free) on your computer.

Step 2: Run EaseUS CleanGenius on your PC, select Optimization and choose the Write Protection mode.

Step 3: Select the device that is write-protected and click Disable to remove the protection.

Step 2. Format USB to FAT32

After removing the USB write protection, you can apply any one of the above-provided solutions in Part 1 to format your USB drive to FAT32.

Final Word – Windows 10 Format FAT32

This page tells how to format a USB or external hard drive into FAT32 and resolve the issue of being unable to format USB to FAT32. It also includes helpful solutions in formatting devices bigger than 32GB into FAT32 without data loss.

If you want to convert devices into NTFS without formatting, refer to How to Convert FAT to NTFS for help.

Windows Format FAT32 FAQs

1. How do I format a microSD card to FAT32? –

The built-in tools, Windows Disk Management and File Explorer, are easy to use to format microSD card.

Use Disk Management: Right-click SD card and choose Format from the list. Change volume, file system, and unit size. Check Quick Format and click OK.

File Explorer: Right-click device and select Format. Choose file system label, and unit size. Confirm WARNING message and click OK.

2. How do I format a hard disk? –

To save time and edit fast, we recommend a professional hard disk formatter – EaseUS Partition Master. If you are planning to format hard drive, run this software. Right-click the drive that needs to be formatted. Select format. It’s done!

3. Why can’t I format my USB drive to fat32?

Error happens due to USB error, USB size(larger than 32GB), and write-protected state.

How Can We Help You

About the Author

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 10 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions to resolve Windows & Mac data recovery, data backup, partition management, data transfer, Windows update issues, etc.

Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working in EaseUS for over ten years, starting from a technical writer to a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over 10 years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.

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How to Format a USB Drive to FAT32 on Windows 10

If you need to format a USB flash drive, HDD, SDD, or some other form of storage to FAT32, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article we’ll go over what a file system is, the FAT32 standard, and several ways to format a storage device to FAT32 on Windows 10.

What’s a file system?

A file system is a standardized way of organizing data on a computer storage device like a flash drive or HDD.

A file system divides a storage device into virtual compartments, almost like a wall of post office boxes, and keeps track of all the information that gets stored in each box.

Some of the most common file system formats for portable storage devices are FAT32, NTFS, and ExFAT.

FAT32 compared to other formats

Of those three common formats, FAT32 is the oldest and most widely supported. Every major operating system will allow you to read and write from a USB flash drive that’s formatted to FAT32.

Meanwhile, macOS can only read NTFS drives, and you would need to install third-party software to write back to the drive.

However, though FAT32 is well supported, its maximum drive and file size is severely limited when compared to newer formats like NTFS and ExFAT:

Max drive size Max file size Windows macOS Linux
FAT32 32 GB (Windows), up to 16TB (Other OSs) 4 GB Read/Write Read/Write Read/Write
NTFS 8 PB* 16 EB** Read/Write Read Read/Write
ExFAT 128 PB* 16 EB** Read/Write Read/Write Read/Write

* 1 petabyte is about 1 thousand terabytes
** 1 exabyte is about 1 million terabytes

Note that the maximum drive and file size of NTFS and ExFAT is so large that there’s basically no limit. (But it would be nice to have a 128 PB USB drive, wouldn’t it?)

On the other hand, FAT32’s max file size of 4 GB is almost nothing now that phones can record 4K videos. Also, it’s a little more difficult to format a drive larger than 32 GB to FAT32 on Windows 10.

These days, the only reason why you’d choose to format a drive to FAT32 is for compatibility. For example, if you need to boot up an old computer, maybe with a different operating system, and backup some of its files. But you’d need to be sure that none of those files are greater than 4 GB.

If you’re sure you want to go with FAT32, here’s how to format a storage drive on Windows 10.

Important note: Before you format a drive, make sure that you backup all of your important files. In fact, make two backups, and keep one on a remote service like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Formatting a drive will delete all of the data that’s currently on it.

How to use Windows File Explorer to format a USB drive to FAT32

A quick note about this method: it only works on USB flash drives that are less that 32 GB. If your USB drive is larger than 32 GB, check out one of the later methods.

With that out of the way, plug your USB drive into your computer and open Windows File Explorer.

Next, right-click on the drive on the left hand side of the File Explorer window and click “Format”:

In the window that pops up, ensure that “FAT32” is selected. Also, feel free to rename the USB drive whatever you’d like:

You can leave the rest of the options alone. Just click start to format your drive.

Once it’s done, your USB drive should be formatted to use the FAT32 file system.

To double check this, open File Explorer, right click on your USB drive, and click “Properties”.

A window will pop up and you should see that the file system is now FAT32:

How to use Rufus to format a USB drive to FAT32

If your USB drive is larger than 32 GB, you’ll need to use a third-party program like Rufus to format it.

There are lots of other programs that can format USB drives, but Rufus is really small and portable. This means you can stick Rufus right on a USB drive, plug it into any Windows computer, and format other drives on the go.

After you download Rufus, double click on the .exe file to start the application.

Make sure your USB drive is selected. Then, click the “Boot selection” dropdown and select “Non bootable”:

Next, click the “File system” dropdown and select “FAT32”.

Also, feel free to change the name of your USB drive under “Volume label”:

Then, click the “Start” button to format your drive. After a few seconds it’ll be formatted to FAT32.

How to use PowerShell to format a USB drive to FAT32

While this method works with drives larger than 32 GB, it’s really slow – even formatting a 32 GB drive can take up to an hour depending on your computer.

But, if you aren’t able to use the previous two methods for some reason, this will work in a pinch.

First, click on the Windows Search Bar and type in “powershell”. Then, click “Run as administrator” to launch PowerShell with elevated privileges:

In the PowerShell terminal, enter the following command:


Use the File Explorer to double check your drive letter. My drive letter was D, so I entered format /FS:FAT32 D: .

Press Enter, make sure your USB drive is plugged in, and press the Enter key again to start the process:

Then go run some errands or something – it will take awhile.

Once the format command is finished, your drive should be formatted to FAT32.

In closing

Now you should be able to format a USB drive of any size to FAT32 on Windows 10. And with just a little modification, any of these methods can be used to format your drive to another file system like NTFS or ExFAT.

Now get out there and format all your USB drives. (But only after you backup everything important!)

Was this helpful? Is there a better method that you know of? Tweet at me and let me know how you format things on Windows 10.

How to Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32?

It’s easy to format USB flash drive to FAT32 via Windows built-in tools like Disk Management. But if the USB drive is beyond 32GB or becomes RAW, you can apply a free FAT32 format tool.

By Bryce / Last Updated May 4, 2023

Why format USB flash drive to FAT32?

FAT32, short of File Allocation Table 32, is a traditional file system. It can be supported by various external electronic media like XBOX, PS3, and Android, etc. Besides, it is compatible with many operating systems including Mac, Windows and so on. Obviously, the most important reason to format USB flash drive, SD card or external hard drive to FAT32 is to make the storage device can work under different electronic media or operating systems.

Format USB to FAT32 via Windows built-in tools

When it comes to how to format USB drive to FAT32 in Windows, the first tool that you consider might be File Explorer. But sometimes, the USB flash drive will not be showing up in Windows Explorer as it doesn’t have a drive letter. In such a condition, you can open Disk Management or Diskpart utility to format it to FAT32.

Using Disk Management

1. Access Disk Management.

(Press Windows+ R, input diskmgmt.msc, and press Enter.)

2. Right-click the partition on the USB flash drive and choose Format…among pop-up results.

3. In the next small window, choose FAT32 at the file system menu and click OK.

After a while, the USB flash drive will be formatted with FAT32 in a success.

Using Diskpart utility

1. Enter Diskpart interface.

(Press Windows+ R, input diskpart, and press Enter.)

2. In the Diskpart window, run the commands given below:

▪ list disk
▪ select disk n (“n” refers to the disk number of the USB flash drive that you want to format)
▪ list partition
▪ select partition m (“m” is the USB flash drive partition number)
▪ format fs=fat32 quick

PS.: After formatting your USB flash drive, you can assign a drive letter to it; then you can access it from File Explorer.

Failed to format USB flash drive in Windows

It is rather easy to format USB flash drive to FAT32 within Disk Management. But if you try to format a USB flash drive larger than 32GB, you’ll find that there is no FAT32 option in Disk Management or get an error message “The volume is too big for FAT32”. That is to say, you can’t format 64GB, 128GB,or larger USB with FAT32 file system via Disk Management or Diskpart utility.

A great FAT32 format tool: Format USB flash drive beyond 32GB

If your USB flash drive is beyond 32GB and you want to format it with FAT32, what should you do? The answer is to employ a third-party free FAT32 format tool, such as AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, which allows you to format USB flash drive beyond 64GB to FAT32 easily and effectively and format RAW USB drive to FAT32.

Besides, it permits you to make conversion between NTFS and FAT32 without data loss, migrate OS from MBR to MBR disk and so on. It is compatible with different Windows operating systems, including Windows 10/8.1/8/7, XP and Vista. Then, free download it and see how it works:

Secure Download

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. In the main console, right-click the USB flash drive partition and select Format Partition.

Step 2.Choose FAT32 among listed file systems and click OK icon.

Step 3. Click Apply and Proceed to commit your operation.


If your USB flash drive is smaller than 32GB, you can format it with FAT32 using Disk Management or Diskaprt. But if your USB flash drive is larger than 32GB, it is recommended to apply AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to format USB flash drive to FAT32. To solve other problems, such as recovering lost partition on USB flash drive, converting primary partition into logical, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.

Free Partition Manager

  • Resize and Move Partition
  • System/Disk Clone
  • Convert MBR/GPT Disk
  • Check & Fix Disk Errors

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