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How to format an external hard drive in FAT32

An external hard drive is exactly the same HDD as the one that is installed on your computer, with one rather significant exception: an external hard drive is a handheld device that is usually connected using a USB cable, which differs significantly from a regular USB flash drive higher disk space available for storing any files.

Previously, articles on choosing a hard drive, its connection, and options for setting a password on it were already devoted to our site. Below we will examine in more detail the question of how the formatting of an external hard drive is performed.

Method 1: standard Windows tools

The easiest and most effective way to format an external hard drive, which does not require you to install any additional tools. All that is required of you is to connect an external HDD to the computer, and then perform the following simple steps.

1. Open Windows Explorer in the "This Computer" section. The screen will display all drives connected to the computer. Find your external HDD among them, right-click on it and in the context menu that appears, select "Format".

2. A formatting settings window will appear on the screen, in which, as a rule, settings should not be changed, but you should pay attention to "File system". Make sure that you have an item next to it "NTFS", since this file system is best suited for working with external hard drives.

3. To format the disk more thoroughly, you can uncheck the “Fast” item, but keep in mind that in this case the formatting process can take quite a while. To start formatting, click on the button "To begin".

4. The system will notify that the formatting procedure will erase all files on the disk. Therefore, if you have not yet transferred important documents or other files, be sure to click on the button "Cancel". To continue formatting, click "OK".

5. The system will start the formatting procedure, the duration of which will depend on the size of the hard disk, but, as a rule, you do not have to wait long. In case of successful completion of the process, a corresponding notification will be displayed on the screen.

Method 2: format using the HDD Low Level Format Tool

As a rule, users turn to third-party tools for formatting an external HDD when standard tools are powerless to complete the process.

HDD Low Level Format Tool is a popular shareware utility that provides low-level formatting of hard drives and USB drives of almost any manufacturer. The utility is noteworthy in that it allows you to completely destroy the previous information contained on the disk, and, unlike the standard method, data recovery cannot be performed.

To use this utility, download it from the link at the end of the article, and then perform a simple installation on your computer. At the first start, you will need to select a disk with which further work will be carried out, and then click on the button "Continue".

Go to the tab "Low-Level Format"and then click on the button “Format This Device”.

Again, the utility will warn that formatting will permanently delete all files previously written to disk. Accept the offer to continue the procedure.

Formatting using this utility will take much longer than the standard method described above. However, such a utility can reduce the likelihood of errors during the formatting process, as well as the ability to restore files previously contained on the disk (which is especially important when selling an external hard drive) is close to zero.

Actually, one of the two proposed methods will help you easily format an external hard drive. In favor of a decision to give a choice - it's up to you.

Formatting an external drive in FAT32 using fat32format

One of the easiest ways to format a large disk in FAT32 is to download the free fat32format program, you can do this from the official website of the developer here: (Download starts when click on the screenshot of the program).

This program does not require installation. Just plug in your external hard drive, run the program, select the drive letter and click the Start button. After that, you just have to wait until the formatting process is over and exit the program. That's all, an external hard drive, whether it is 500 GB or terabytes, is formatted in FAT32. Let me remind you again, this will limit the maximum file size on it - no more than 4 gigabytes.

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09/14/2014 at 00:12

Thanks, helped, just for the xbox 360 needed to prepare

01/27/2015 at 14:51

Thank you very much for the recommendations, I quickly formatted an external FAT32 hard drive

02/01/2015 at 01:10

Many modern devices manufactured in 2012 - for example, TVs (LG and some others) normally read USB NTFS external hard drives. My TV normally plays video from a Samsung 300 GB external drive under NTFS. This system is more resistant to crashes and has no restrictions on the maximum file size (4GB), therefore it is preferable, other things being equal.

02/01/2015 at 06:36

Many, but, unfortunately, not all, even from modern ones. But it’s really worth checking out. In addition, it is more convenient for a Windows user to work with NTFS.

09/04/2015 at 20:29

NTFS is undoubtedly more convenient, but for PS3 and Xbox 360 (to run games from external media) you need FAT32.

09/05/2015 at 07:06

Doesn't xbox see NTFS? Is there a Windows-based system like? (Not the console owner himself, just a question arose).

06/30/2015 at 21:40

Well, the program seems to be nothing, let's see how it will trample with the telecom

08/18/2015 at 14:52

Anything, just not what you need!

02/04/2018 at 09:26

And what was necessary?)

12/13/2015 at 04:33

10.26.2016 at 16:10

Dmitry, the fat32format program refused to format 4-terabytes in FAT32, writes that it only supports 2TB max. Do not tell me, maybe there are any other ways?

10/27/2016 at 10:53

Hello. For 4 TB there is no such possibility.

10/27/2016 at 13:01

Dmitry, hello, thanks for the prompt reply. But what about your information in the article that FAT32 supports partitions up to 8 TB? How are they created? Can you tell me a way?

10/28/2016 at 10:47

The article should be corrected (I’ll do it now), sorry.
2 TB limitation. (about FAT32)

10/28/2016 at 13:43

Dmitry, then the last. I have an external Seagate GoFlex 3TB hard drive, so it was FAT32 out of the box. So somehow everything is ambiguous ... There is some unknown witchcraft that can format disks that exceed 2TB in FAT32. By the way, I read from your link that the 2TB limit is for the 512 byte sector, and for the 4096 byte sector the limit is 16TB. I’m completely confused ...

10/29/2016 at 08:58

There is confusion here for me too, I'm not a super expert on file system restrictions: I haven’t seen FAT32 partitions under Windows for more than 2 TB, and this restriction is usually indicated. There is different information about theoretical maximums everywhere - 8 Tb (as it was in the article), you specified 16 Tb.

But I just found it in Google: Used guiformat to format partition as FAT32 using 65,536 Allocation unit size, this person writes about how he formatted 4 TB in FAT32 to put on Playstation and it seems to work.

10/29/2016 at 09:08

Thanks, Dmitry, I will try!

11/25/2016 at 15:15

no. alas, these are the disadvantages of fat32, namely the limitation of 2TB. and if there are crutches, then it’s not a fact that it will work stably

11/17/2016 at 14:39

Thank you very much helped out!

12/27/2016 at 15:29

01/03/2017 at 12:59

Fat32format refused to format a 64 gig flash drive. I gave an error without even starting.
The command line took up formatting, 1% in 40 seconds ... as a result, an hour later, an error "the volume is too large for fat32"
I solved the problem using the program Aomei Partition Assistant. She formatted everything without unnecessary questions and troubles. In two clicks.
And thank God for having killed half a day on this formatting.

02/13/2017 at 03:37

Tell me what the end of the formatting process looks like. Maybe this is a stupid question, but I don’t see the message “formatting completed successfully”.

04/01/2017 at 11:19

Damn, I suffered for so long with other programs, downloaded this one, and not a minute passed before it was done. Really works thanks

04/29/2017 at 22:29

I have this question. I accidentally formatted a 2TB drive into Fat 32 (fast formatting) with the usb flash boot to dos program. the process ran in a few seconds, the disk became logical inactive in fat 32, but the information about its fullness did not change in the properties and in the programs for working with disks. only 180 GB of 2 terabytes is free. I did not understand what the program did. Formatted or not, and if not, then why is the drive full in the properties? I mixed up the disks for formatting, and I would like to somehow get everything back.

04/30/2017 at 08:42

And how does it appear in Windows Disk Management? As a single section or otherwise?

10.20.2017 at 23:57

Good afternoon, there was a problem. I wanted to make a Windows 10 system image on my WD My passport Iltra 500 Gb hard drive. I did not know that formatting would happen in FAT 32. is it possible to fix and return the volume?

10.21.2017 at 09:23

Hello, i.e. Did you make a “bootable USB flash drive” on this disk? Well, in general, yes, you can format it in NTFS manually (ideally, use "disk management" - Win + R, enter diskmgmt.msc, delete the partitions on the disk, create a new partition on the entire disk, format it in NTFS).

10.21.2017 at 23:29

Thank you Dmitry! Everything worked out

11.28.2017 at 12:26

Thank you very much. The article is useful, it helped a lot. The author is well done!

11.29.2017 at 16:27

Thank you It was possible to format the 64GB flash drive only through the fat32format program.

02/03/2018 at 13:28

Hello! Tell me, please, if there are already files on the disk and I need to format the disk in fat32, will nothing happen to them? They will not suffer?

02/04/2018 at 08:16

Hello. Will suffer. When formatting, they are erased. Search the Internet for how to convert a disk to FAT32 without losing data.

02/04/2018 at 09:34

And who can answer the question ... I used a flash drive to transfer games to the Xbox. Naturally needed the Fat32 file system. The standard win7 tools did not allow formatting in this file system and I used the AOMEI Partition Assistant. After about a year of using a flash drive to transfer games to xbox, I again resort to using AOMEI for formatting, but the flash drive is no longer displayed in this program. From manipulations for a year - I used this flash drive a couple of times to create a boot disk with Windows 7. Then formatting happened. Theoretically, nothing particularly messy should have happened, but the fact is that after creating the boot disk, the flash drive was no longer seen by the AOMEI program.

02/05/2018 at 10:27

It’s strange. Maybe a coincidence? You can try to check whether it is visible in diskpart approximately as described here:

05/17/2018 at 03:02

I would like to ask. who did not have fat32 on the hard one got fat32

06/16/2018 at 12:19

Thank! He formatted a 64GB flash drive, was in exFat format and Windows only offered it or NTFS. The program was updated with a bang.

08/09/2018 at 10:44

Hello, I formatted a 500 GB disk from your prompt in fat32, but there was an NTFS system but the TV still doesn’t see it. Tell me why? 2017 TV but not expensive. what's the reason on tv? 32 GB flash drive. He sees.

08/09/2018 at 10:58

Hello. In theory, the reason may be a lack of power for the hard drive from the TV or, which is also possible, the presence of several partitions on it - i.e. the main part and some kind of hidden (look at the "disk management" in Windows).

08/12/2018 at 18:55

Dmitry is the main section, once again I deleted the section and created it in Fat32 in the SwissKnife program and still the TV does not see the hard one. I even began to see a car TV disc even though it’s already revolutionary, but can’t see a home one. But thanks anyway for the answer.

01/13/2019 at 22:28

Good evening. The program does not see the ssd drive I want to format. Three hard drives are visible on the hdd (C, D, E) drive: and the SSD (K) 256 G is not visible. When I connect a USB flash drive - it sees.

01/14/2019 at 11:51

Hello. And if you simply format it through the command line in Diskpart? There must see.

03/10/2019 at 20:30

Thank you, I formatted a FAT32 drive to 640GB right away, but it became 90GB, right?

03/11/2019 at 08:34

No, this should not be. It’s strange.
If you suddenly need to return gigabytes, use "Windows Disk Management", delete all partitions, create one new one for the entire disk space.

03/12/2019 at 12:10

Dmitry, I'm sorry, I misled myself and you, when formatting for the first time, I set the cluster size to 4096 like a flash drive, and now I left the size as suggested by your program 32768 and my 640 GB returned to FAT32, thanks again, everything is fine .

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