How to format USB to FAT32 Windows 10 and 11?


Having a USB device comes very handy for storing and transferring data. A desirable feature of a USB drive is its compatibility with various devices and operating systems. Among the three file systems in Windows, namely NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT, the second one is known for its amazing compatibility.

This is why formatting USB to FAT32 with Windows 10 and 11 is preferred over others. Let us see how this formatting can be done successfully.

Formatting USB to FAT32 with File Explorer

Even though File Explorer cannot execute disk-level operations, it can do disc management operations like formatting a USB drive to FAT32.

format USB to FAT32
  • Click the File Explorer icon on the taskbar and then click This PC. Here all the connected disks and partitions will be listed.
  • Right-click and select the Format option from the context menu. At this step, it is important to backup all the data so that it can be restored later.
  • From the file system drop-down in the format box, select FAT32 and press the Start button. Once this is done, the format is completed.

Formatting USB to FAT32 with CMD

You can use Command Prompt in Windows 10 to format USB to FAT32. In Windows 11, you can choose to use the Windows Terminal in the Power Menu to do the format.

  • Press WIN + X to enter the Power menu and select Command Prompt.
  • Type in format/FS: FAT32 in the Command Prompt and press Enter
  • You will see the result of the above operation in the Command Prompt, and the format is successfully completed.

Formatting USB to FAT32 by Disk Management

The disk management program is necessary to format the USB drive to FAT32.

  • From the Disk Management menu, select Create and format hard drive partitions. This opens a window with hard discs and partitions listed.
  • Right-click and select Format from the context menu. Remember that this operation should not be done on an EFI or primary partition.
  • The format choice has to be selected as Volume Label, Format 32. Now you can use it in File Explorer.

Formatting USB to FAT32 with PowerShell

  • Open the Start menu and search for PowerShell.
  • The drive letter must be replaced with the drive letter in the PowerShell window. Run the command Format/FS: FAT32
  • The formatting can be time-consuming because the command does not do a fast format.
  • Give a new name to the drive once the formatting process is complete
  • ‘Format Complete’ will appear on the screen when you press the Enter key.

The above four methods of formatting a USB drive to FAT32 give you easy options to complete the procedure successfully. Formatting the drive to any file system is possible if the drive is detected on the computer. Many tools are available that make the process simpler than when Windows tools are used.

Why can’t I format my USB drive to FAT32?

The reason for this is that by default, Windows File Explorer, Diskpart, and Disk Management format USB flash drives smaller than 32GB as FAT32 and USB flash drives larger than 32GB as exFAT or NTFS. Windows does not support FAT32 formatting for USB flash drives larger than 32GB.

How to Format USB Drive Larger Than 32GB to FAT32?

Can a 1TB drive be formatted to FAT32?

If the drive is greater than 2 TB, FAT32 formatting is not possible. If compatibility with as many operating systems as possible is your objective, utilize the exFAT file system instead.

Is exFAT the same as FAT32 format?

FAT32 is an older file system that isn’t as efficient as NTFS and doesn’t have as many features, but it works better with other operating systems. exFAT is a modern alternative to FAT32. It’s supported by more devices and operating systems than NTFS, but it’s not used as much as FAT32.

Is FAT32 or NTFS better for flash drives?

Internal drives should use NTFS, while flash drives and external drives should use exFAT. FAT32 is much more compatible than NTFS, but it can only handle files that are up to 4GB in size and partitions that are up to 2TB.

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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