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FAT32 Format Not Opening [Fixed]

Updated by Roxanne on Sep 22, 2022

fat32 not opening

"Hi, I cannot open my USB drive on a Windows 10 computer. However, this drive opens well with my Windows Vista PC, and I can access all my files. The USB drive is formatted in FAT32. How comes it cannot open on Windows 10? Please help".

If you've encountered a similar problem of "FAT32 format not opening," you're at the right place. This article will guide you on why your Windows 10 computer isn't opening your FAT32 USB drive and the possible solutions to this problem. We'll also recommend a third-party tool (EaseUS Partition Master) that you can use to format FAT32.

About FAT32

File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32) is a file storage system used on devices that store up to 32GB of data. This file system got introduced in 1977 and currently supports all operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also supports mobile devices.

Due to its compatibility across various devices, FAT32 is considered the more reliable in sharing files between computers. Therefore, all SD cards and USB drives use the FAT32 format. A major setback with FAT32 is that it isn't compatible with storage drives with larger storage space. It also can't store individual files larger than 4GB.

However, the file system is still compatible with additional devices, including:

  • Windows 98
  • CCTV cameras
  • Gaming consoles
  • Smartphones
  • Digital cameras

Built-in compression functions aren't available in FAT32. The file system can work with partitions with a total storage size of at most 16TB. It's also important to note that a Windows 10 computer can't format drives using the FAT32 file system. In addition to FAT32, other standard file systems include NTFS and exFAT.

NTFS is suitable for the latest operating systems, while exFAT is best for devices with low memory and power requirements. The chart below compares the three file systems.

FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS Comparison Chat 

FAT32 exFAT NTFS
-Works on man devices including Windows, Mac, and Linux -Works well on Windows 10/8/7 computers -Works well on Windows 10/8/7 computers
-Was first used on Windows 95 devices    -Was first used on Windows XP and Vista -Was first used on Windows NT devices
-Doesn't need extra configuration to work on Mac  -You'll need additional configuration to use it on Mac OS X and Linux -Accessed as a read-only on Mac and Linux (some versions)
-Supports a maximum partition size of 8TB and file size of 4GB  -No limits on partition size and file size  -No limits on partition size and file size
-Is considered an older file system type and lacks the efficiency of NTFS -Is considered a replacement for FAT32 and works on most devices -Is a modern file system used on the latest Windows devices

If you are interested in the FAT32 converter, you can read the following article:

related articles

Best FAT32 Converter Free Download [Tried and Free]

Do you need to convert the existing partition to FAT32?  Then here is an easy guide on some of the FAT32 Converters, which you can download and quickly convert.  It is possible to convert a RAW format, NTFS, or any other format into FAT32.

partition manager

FAT32 Format Not Opening? Why?

The first reason you may fail to open a FAT32 format is when the partition you need to use is larger than 32GB. This is because Microsoft has limited the maximum file size of FAT32 drives to 32GB. If you try opening a file larger than that, you'll encounter the error "can't open".

Moreover, if you try using File Explorer to format the partition, you'll not see an option for FAT32. On the other hand, formatting a hard drive using Diskpart will display the error: "The volume size is too big." Second, you may fail to open FAT32 on your Windows 10 computer because it's not the first primary partition on your removable drive.

Since Windows 10 doesn't recognize any primary partition apart from the first, it won't allow you to partition it. Lastly, you may fail to open FAT32 on Windows because the removable drive is write-protected. This means the drive is read-only and can't allow you to make changes to it through writing or formatting. 

How to Fix "FAT32 Option Not Available"?

Although it's impossible to open FAT32 format under normal circumstances, options exist to format the disk on your computer. Below are the best options to format FAT32:

  1. Method 1. Using EaseUS Partition Master 
  2. Method 2. By running CMD
  3. Method 3. Using Disk Management

Let's discuss each method in detail.

Method 1. Format FAT32 with EaseUS Partition Master

One of the best ways to format FAT32 is using third-party software. EaseUS Partition Master is one such software that we highly recommend. This tool is easy to use and supports drive partitioning on Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista. The free version of the software grants you access to many advanced features compared to other third-party tools.

EaseUS Partition Master allows you to format small and large storage drives to FAT32. These could include USB drives, SD cards, external drives, and HDDs/SDDs. The software allows you to convert partitions on Windows from NTFS to FAT32 and vice versa.

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Features of EaseUS Partition Master

In addition to formatting FAT32, this software also allows you to:

  • Extend system partition
  • Create or delete a partition
  • Merge partitions
  • Resize/move partitions
  • Convert MBR to GPT and vice versa
  • Clone system partitions

Two Ways You Can Format FAT32 Using EaseUS Partition Master

You can format FAT32 in the following ways:

1. Format the FAT32 Directly

EaseUS Partition Master has a direct-format feature that allows you to format your drive to FAT32 easily. Apart from formatting to FAT32, this method also allows you to convert drives to NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, and ReFS. This entails a simple and secure process with no chance of data loss.

You'll just need to download and install a free version of EaseUS Partition Master on your computer to get started. If you have any problems, you can follow the steps below:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition you intend to format and choose "Format".

Step 2. In the new window, enter the Partition label, choose the FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4 file system, and set the cluster size according to your needs, then click "OK".

Step 3. Then you will see a warning window, click "Yes" in it to continue.

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting the partition to FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4.

2. Extend the FAT32 Partition

With its "Allocate Space" feature, EaseUS Partition Master will allow you to extend your system drive seamlessly. If you have a system drive running on FAT32, you can extend its partition to cover unallocated or unused space on another drive. The system will then format the space to FAT32. We will provide you with the steps for this method which are also easy to follow.

Step 1. Run EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the hard drive partition you intend to format and choose "Format".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2. In the new window, set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and Cluster size for the partition to be formatted, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3. Then you will see a warning window, click "Yes" in it to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting the partition on your hard drive.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

Method 2. Format FAT32 by Running CMD

You can format your FAT32 drive using CMD in the following steps:

Step 1. Plug the USB drive into your PC.

Step 2. Press the Windows logo key and type "cmd" on the search bar to open Command Prompt.

Step 3. Click "Run as Administrator" on the search results.

run as administrator

Step 4. Once the Command Prompt opens, type "diskpart" on the command window and hit the Enter key. This step opens Disk Utility.

diskpart

Step 5. Next, type "list disk" and press Enter. You'll then confirm the listed name for your USB drive.

list disk

Step 6. Type "select disk [disk name]" to pick the USB drive you want to format. Next, press Enter.

select disk

Step 7. Type "clean" and hit the Enter key. Wait for a few seconds as Command Prompts formats the drive. Once finished, you'll see: "DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk".

clean

Step 8. Next, type "create partition primary." Press the Enter key.

create partition primary

Step 9. To format the USB drive to NTFS, type "format fs=ntfs." Press Enter.

format drive

Step 10. Once your drive is successfully formatted, type "exit" and hit the Enter key to close the process, your USB drive can now open on Windows 10.

type exit

Method 3. Format FAT32 via Disk Management

If you encounter problems with formatting your USB drive using Command Prompt, there's an option to use Disk Management. The only requirement is that the USB drive must have a size of less than 32GB. Apply the following steps to use Disk Management:

Step 1. Open File Explorer on your computer.

Step 2. Right-click on "This PC" and select "Manage".

this pc manage

Step 3. On the next window, click on "Disk Management" under Storage.

disk management

Step 4. Locate your USB drive and right-click on it. Select "Format".

format

Step 5. Change the USB file system to FAT32.

change file system

Step 6. Mark the box for "Perform a quick format" and click "OK". Your drive will now be formatted to FAT32 and opened on your computer.  

Conclusion

FAT32 is a common file system due to its compatibility with modern and old devices. For most Windows 10 users, it's common to encounter problems with opening a FAT32 format drive. The main reason is that Microsoft has limited the maximum file size for FAT32 drives to 32GB.

If you have anything more than that, your drive won't open. You can solve the issue by formatting your drive using:

  • A third-party tool (EaseUS Partition Master)
  • Command Prompt
  • Disk Management

However, we highly recommend EaseUS Partition Master due to its efficiency in formatting FAT32 drives. This software is easy to use and allows you to perform various actions on your disk partitions without losing data. To get started with EaseUS Partition Master today, ensure you download a free trial version of the software.   

Free Download 

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FAQs about FAT32 Format Not Opening

Here are some questions you may be interested in:

1. How to open FAT32 format?

In common situations, it is impossible to open FAT32 format, options exist to format the disk on your computer. There are three ways to open FAT32 format in all. First, we can use the third-party tool, EaseUS Partition Master. With this tool, you can format the FAT32 directly or extend the FAT32 partition. Secondly, you can format FAT32 by running CMD. Thirdly, you can format FAT32 via disk management. The only requirement is that the USB drive must have a size of less than 32GB.

2. How do I fix the FAT32 error?

When you encounter some FAT32 error, follow the below-mentioned methods to repair the FAT32 drive using CHKDSK and recover data as well. First, you need to make sure the drive with the FAT32 file system is connected to your computer. Secondly, you can open the command prompt by typing cmd in the search bar and hitting Enter. Thirdly, you can right-click on cmd.exe and select the Run as Administrator option.

3. Is FAT32 available in Windows 10?

In this tutorial, you will learn how to format a USB device when the FAT32 option is not available. Windows 10 automatically does not allow you to format an external USB drive larger than 32GB as a FAT32 file system. The Formatting Utility dialog only provides NTFS and ExFAT file systems for USB drives larger than 32GB.

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About the Author

Updated by Roxanne

Roxanne is one of the main contributors to EaseUS and has created multiple posts on digital devices like PCs, Mobile phones, tablets, Mac, etc. She loves to share ideas with people of the same interest.

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