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Format USB Flash Drive/External Hard Drive to FAT32 in Windows 10

Updated on Dec 04, 2018 by Daisy to Partition Master

Summary:
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 the methods on this page. It will help you effectively resolve this issue by using CMD command line or the professional Windows 10 FAT 32 format tool.

Cannot format USB or external hard drive to FAT32 in Windows 10

Mostly, people would like to format a USB flash drive or external hard drive to NTFS. But sometimes, you may want to format a USB flash drive or external hard drive to FAT32 in Windows 10 for some reasons, like making the USB or external hard drive faster when writing mostly large files to it or ensuring the compatibility with non-Windows operating systems.

But the problem is that the max partition size of FAT32 is 32GB, which means you can only format devices smaller than 32GB into this file system. From the chart below, you'll have a better understanding of why you can't format USB or external hard drive (more than 32GB) to FAT32:

Comparison of FAT and NTFS

Windows 10 Disk Management tool also can't do this on a USB drive or hard drive which is bigger than 32GB. Fortunately, this page will show you how to do it by using CMD command line and professional Windows 10 FAT 32 format tool

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.

Format to FAT32 using CMD command line (Free)

A simple and free way to format your flash drive or external hard drive to FAT32 in Windows 10 is using CMD command line. It's a built-in tool in Windows, enabling you to format, create, delete, extend, and shrink partitions without rebooting the system.

Please be careful while using CMD for FAT32 formatting with the following steps: 

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". 

Open Command Prompt to format device .

Step 3: Type the command format /FS: FAT32 H at the prompt and hit "Enter". (H is the drive letter of your USB or external hard drive in Windows 10. If it's not for your case, replace the drive letter H with your drive letter.)

Format USB/external hard drive to FAT32 with CMD.

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

Step 4: Type exit when the process has completed.

Use EaseUS Windows 10 FAT32 formatting tool (Easier & Safer)

If you prefer a safer and easier way to format your USB flash drive or external hard drive to FAT32, you can try a professional third-party Windows 10 FAT32 formatting tool. We recommend you try EaseUS partition manager with its Format partition feature. Now, download and install this tool on your computer, then follow the steps to get things done.

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 Windows 10 is supported

 

Step 1: Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2: Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3: In the Warning window, click "OK" to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 4: Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

Smaller cluster size makes less wasting of disk space. The smaller the cluster size is, the bigger file allocation table (FAT) will be. The bigger the FAT is, the slower the operating system works with the disk.

Final Word

This page tells how to format a USB or external hard drive into FAT32, which is especially helpful in formatting devices bigger than 32GB into FAT32 without data loss. If you want to convert devices into NTFS without formatting, please refer to How to Convert FAT to NTFS for help.