Fat32 Formatter for USB Drives Larger than 32GB

Fat32 Formatter is a tool to help you format USB drives larger than 32GB as Fat32. Some operating systems and disk utilities impose limitations preventing you from formatting partitions larger than 32GB with a Fat32 file system. In Windows, for example, the built in format utility only allows partitions up to 32 GB to be formatted as Fat 32. However, third party tools such as this can still be used to force format those large drives or format an sd card as Fat32Format.

Fat32 Formatter format tool for large USB drives

Fat32 Formatter - a Fat32 format tool for large USB drives

About the Fat32 File System

FAT32, short for File Allocation Table 32, is a file system format used for organizing and managing files on storage devices such as hard drives, USB flash drives, and memory cards. It was introduced by Microsoft in 1996 as an extension to its predecessor, FAT16.

A list of features include:

  1. Large Volume Support: FAT32 supports much larger volumes compared to FAT16, allowing for partition sizes up to 2 terabytes (TB) and file sizes up to 4 gigabytes (GB) minus 1 byte.
  2. Compatibility: It is widely supported across various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and many other platforms. This broad compatibility makes it a popular choice for removable storage devices.
  3. File and Directory Structure: Uses a hierarchical file system structure with directories (folders) and files organized in a tree-like format.
  4. File Allocation Table: The File Allocation Table is a key component of FAT32. It keeps track of the clusters (allocation units) on the storage device and records which clusters are allocated to which files.
  5. Performance: It is worth mentioning that this filesystem is generally less efficient than newer file systems like NTFS (New Technology File System) or exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) in terms of performance and storage utilization, especially for large volumes and files.

How to Format USB to FAT32?

To format a USB to Fat32, you can use the following Fat32 format tool. In my opinion this is the best free fat32 formatter for Windows. It automates the entire process, allowing you to quickly reformat USB drives larger than 32GB with a Fat32 file system. You can force a Fat 32 format on drives of any size up to 2TB, automatically adjusting the partition to fit the space. Yes, even when the volume is larger than the 32GB limit imposed by operating systems like Windows.

By default, Microsoft Windows will not let you format a volume bigger than 32 GB with a Fat32 filesystem (hence where the denomination for 32 came from). Which is exactly where this handy tool comes in! This portable and free formatting utility easily works around this limitation. You can use its intuitive GUI to quickly format your USB flash drives, sd cards, or even large internal or external hard drives. Making it easy to format drives with Fat32 regardless of their capacity.

Note: A key benefit to using Fat32 over the other filesystems, is BIOS USB bootability. Though one important limitation to note when compared to modern exFAT or NTFS formats, is that files larger than 4GB can not be stored on a Fat32 filesystem. However you could work around this limitation by using multiple partitions of differing types by creating a NTFS or exFAT partition for storage, and a Fat32 partition for boot, etc.

Fat32 Format Limitations

It is worth noting that using a Fat32 filesystem on a USB drive isn't always the best approach and that there are some limitations to using Fat32 on drives larger than 32GB. For example, as previously mentioned, the maximum file size is limited to 4GB. If you try to copy files over that exceed 4GB, you will likely encounter an error stating:

File is too large for the destination file system.

The only way to resolve this is to either split the file up using a file splitter or use a different filesystem such as NTFS or exFAT.

The maximum number of files you can store and directories you can create is also limited to 65,536. Each file and subdirectory can take 2 to 13 entries, based on the length of its name. Additionally, some modern operating systems and applications may not work well with Fat32, so it's not always the best choice for every situation.

In general, if you're formatting a large drive and need maximum compatibility and file size support, it's better to use a modern file system such as NTFS or exFAT. However, if you specifically need to use Fat32 for compatibility with legacy systems (for example BIOS booting), third party Fat32 formatter tools like this can be used to automatically format those larger drives for you.

Fat32 Formatter Specifications

In my opinion, this is amongst the best free Fat32 format software one can find. It supports formatting drives all the way up to 2TB in size. So it is at least near future proof for use on most modern flash drives and micro sd cards. This open sourced stand alone utility also utilizes an intuitive GUI making it very easy to use.

Fat32 Formatter - force Fat32 format drives larger than 32GB

  • Extracted File Size: 72 KB
  • Authors Website: Project Page
  • Developer: Created by Tom Thornhill of Ridgecrop Consultants Ltd.
  • License: Open Source - Free Software
  • Supported Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP

Fat32 Format Tool Download

You can get the GUI version of this stand alone free Fat32 format tool directly from the authors by clicking on the image from the project page. Or, alternately you can grab it here:
Fat32 Formatter Download

Alternately, you can download a command line version of Fat32 format to use instead. The command line version also enables you to pass variables to the tool using commands or batch scripts. Since the software is open source, it's even possible to integrate the tool into your own projects.

If you find this particular fat32 format tool useful, you might also want to check out the BOOTICE utility which can also be used to easily format external USB flash drives, pendrives, thumb drives and micro sd cards. While were on the topic of formatting thumb drives, you might want to check out UUI, If you'd like to learn how to boot from USB.