Released in 1977 by Microsoft, FAT32 is the most common version of the FAT file system and has great compatibility. It is widely supported by many portable and embedded devices. Some people may have old devices (such as PSP, XBOX360, some TVs and some XP machines without exFAT patch) that only support FAT32 file system.
Do you want to format a drive to FAT32? In some cases, the Windows may not offer FAT32 format option and you can’t format to FAT32. Why does the “FAT32 not an option” issue occur and how to solve this issue?
What Is FAT32?
FAT stands for File Allocation Table, and it is a file system commonly used in USB flash drives. FAT was introduced way back in 1977 and is compatible with virtually all operating systems. This means that Macs, PCs, Linux machines, and even phones can read FAT files.
Because of FAT’s near universal compatibility, it is the ideal format for file sharing between devices. It is for this reason that most USB drives and SD cards are formatted in FAT32 straight from the manufacturer, as it’s going to work right out of the box with no additional formatting required.
Why FAT32 option not available?
Sometimes you may need to format drive to FAT32, for example, many devices only recognize FAT32 and do not recognize exFAT/NTFS (such as PSP, XBOX360, some TVs and some XP machines without exFAT patch). Thus, many users would like to format drive to FAT32. Generally speaking, you can format it to FAT32 file system easily and successfully in Windows File Explorer.
However, sometimes you might find there is no FAT32 file system in the format option. Why this problem appeared? It is usually due to that your partition is larger than 32GB. Because the default Windows format option only allows the FAT32 partition on drives that are 32GB or less. In other words, Windows built in formatting methods like Disk Management, File Explorer or DiskPart won’t allow you to format 64GB SD card to FAT32. And this is why FAT32 option is not available in Windows 10/8/7.
FAT32 vs exFAT vs NTFS: What’s the Difference?
Nowadays, they want to extend the storage but they find that the system can’t format the drive to FAT32. If they format the drive in Windows, the system will not display the FAT32 option. Actually, the reason why you can’t format to FAT32 is that the FAT32 file system has size limit (32 GB), which is set by Microsoft manually.
On a hard drive with 512-byte sectors, the real size limit of FAT32 is 2TB. On a hard drive with 2 KB sectors and 32 KB clusters, the real size limit is 8 TB.
FAT32 is one of the oldest of the three file systems available to Windows. It is introduced this system in Windows 95 to replace the FAT16 file system used with older OS systems like DOS and Windows 3.
Individual files on a FAT32 drive cannot excessed 4 GB in size, which is maximum.
A FAT32 partition should be less than 8 TeraByte (TB). The FAT32 contains four bytes per cluster inside the file allocation table.
The exFAT file system was introduced in 2006 and was added to older versions of Windows with updates to Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems.
It is known as the most updated file system from Microsoft for Windows OS. This system is compatible with flash drives, thumb drives, or memory cards. The full form of exFAT is an extended file allocation table. It has large limits on file and partition sizes. It optimizes exFAT for flash drives.
NTFS File System
NTFS is a modern-day file system that is used by default used by Windows. When you install Windows 10 into your PC or laptop, it formats your system drive with the NTFS file system. This file system has the file size and partition size limits, which are so huge that you are not likely to run up with disk space.
NTFS file system made it’s first debut with Windows XP. It supports file permissions for security, a change in a journal that allows you to recover when your computer crashes, reach disk quota limits, shadow copies of your backup, etc.
How to Fix the FAT32 Not an Option Issue
Sometimes, you have to format a drive larger than 32 GB to FAT32. However, if you format the drive in File Explorer or Windows Disk Management, the “FAT32 not an option” issue will occur. If you format the drive with Command Prompt, it will tell you it can’t format to FAT32 because the volume size is too big.
Then, what to do if it can’t format to FAT32? You can use the following 2 ways to work around this issue.
1. Format the Drive to FAT32 With AOMEI Partition Assistant
Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, you will see the main interface. Right click the partition and select “Format Partition”.
Step 2. In the pop-up window, choose “FAT32” from drop-down menu. And you also can specify “Cluster Size”if you need to. Then, click “OK” to continue.
Step 3.After that, it will go back to the main interface. Preview the virtual result and click “Apply” > “Proceed” after your confirmation.
2. Format the Drive to FAT32 with MiniTool Partition Wizard
MiniTool Partition Wizard is a professional disk management tool. It allows you to format a drive larger than 32 GB to FAT32 for free. Here is the guide:
Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard and go to its main interface. Right-click the partition you want to format to FAT32 and choose Format from the menu.
Step 2: In the Format Partition window, expand the drop-down menu next to File System and choose FAT32. Then, click OK button.
Step 3: Click the Apply button to execute the pending operations.
Tip: If the file system of the drive is NTFS and there are important files in the partition, you can use the Covert NTFS to FAT feature to format the drive to FAT32 without data loss. But please note that this feature is not free.
Convert NTFS to FAT32 without losing data
Well, there are quite a few third-party utilities out there to help you convert NTFS drives to FAT32 without losing data, but they are not free!
While there are some free utilities available, they support small USB drives only. Partition Wizard, Partition Master and AOMEI NTFS to FAT32 Converter all enable you to convert NTFS drives to FAT32 without causing data loss, but none of them are free!
There is a convert utility in Windows, but it can convert FAT32 to NTFS only and not vice versa! So, if you need to convert NTFS drives to FAT32 without losing data, it would be wise to back up data to another location and manually format the USB drive to FAT32 rather than buying a third-party program for the one-time job.
Do let us know if there is a genuine free program (without any limitations) to convert NTFS to FAT32 without causing data loss.
Way 1. Format FAT32 to exFAT in File Explorer
In general, you are able to format flash drive from FAT32 to exFAT effortlessly and effectively in Windows File Explorer. The detailed steps are listed below (Take formatting USB flash drive to exFAT in Windows 10 as an example):
Step 1. Double click “This PC” to open File Explorer.
Step 2. Located your USB flash drive in the listed drives, right-click it, and choose “Format”.
Step 3. Here you can choose exFAT from the file system list. Then click on “Start” button.
Way 2. Format FAT32 drive to exFAT via CMD
If you are familiar with Diskpart command lines, you can choose to format external hard drive or flash drive via Diskpart tool. The instruction is presented as follows:
Step 1. Press “Windows + R”, type “diskpart” and click “OK” to run Diskpart as administrator.
Step 2. Type commands below in order and hit “Enter” after every command.
“list disk”>“select disk n”>“list partition”>“select partition m”>“format fs=exfat”
Best SSD 2021: Top 3
For reliability, build, and speed, go for the best SSDs. Although a case can still be made for traditional hard drives, which are typically more cost-effective, SSDs are simply a more efficient storage solution if you’re handling large files or need to access them quickly. That’s because they have no moving parts, which also means they’re less likely to fail or get damaged.
Quick Shopping Tips
When choosing an SSD, consider the following:
- Pick a compatible interface (M.2 PCIe, SATA, Add-in Card): Look at your user manual or a database like the Crucial Memory Finder to determine what types of SSD your computer supports.
- 512GB to 1TB: Don’t bother getting an SSD smaller than 256GB. 512GB provides a good balance between price and capacity if you’re on a tight budget. But 1TB drives are getting significantly cheaper and 2TB drives are now more affordable than ever.
- SATA is slowest: SATA isn’t as fast as M.2 PCIe or a PCIe add-in card, but the majority of desktops and many laptops can take 2.5-inch SATA drives and many doing typical mainstream tasks users won’t notice the difference between a good recent SATA drive and a faster PCIe model anyway.
1. Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Samsung did something incredible with the 970 EVO Plus, offering performance that matches (even supersedes) the 970 PRO but without the insane price tag. The 970 EVO Plus is based on Samsung’s latest 96-layer V NAND memory, and with the series starting at an affordable price for the 256GB storage capacity, this is an extremely enticing SSD.
Read and write speeds are 3,500MB/s and 3,300MB/s, respectively. It’s fast, but not quite as fast as PCIe 4.0 SSDs. We could have put Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus here and called it a day, but Samsung offers rapid, yet affordable SSD performance with its 970 EVO Plus and it’s more than enough for most PC builds to this day.
Numerous 970 EVO Plus features match other Samsung NVMe SSDs, including the five-year warranty and overall endurance of the drive. Where this little black stick differs is in its performance, if you’re chasing the fastest write speeds possible, this is the one for you.
- Amazing performance
- Good value
- Solid endurance
- Five-year warranty
- Requires an M.2 slot
2. WD Black SN850
The Western Digital Black SN850 makes a fashionably late entrance to the PCIe 4.0 party. It’s capable of hitting 7,000MB/s reads and 5,300MB/s writes in sequential transfers, which is well beyond most drives’ capabilities. That’s because it uses the latest PCIe 4.0 interface, which has double the theoretical bandwidth limit of other PCIe 3.0 drives.
Performance ultimately defines any SSD; the WD SN850 really stands out from the crowd. The synthetic benchmarks, spearheaded by ATTO and AS SSD, show that this is very much a second-generation PCIe 4.0 drive, with peak sequential read speeds knocking on 6,750MB/s and 5,920MB/s, respectively. Writes are lower than the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, but still healthy, at either side of 5GB/s. The 4K write performance in AS SSD manages to flip this over, and the WD SN850 outpaces the Sabrent drive.
Out of the new PCIe 4.0 drives on the market, the SN850 is hands down the most impressive out of the gate with its impressive real-world performance though it does run a little hot. If you want the fastest next-gen drive, this is it.
- Blistering PCIe 4.0 throughput
- Excellent real-world performance
- Solid 5 year warranty
- Runs hot
- No AES 256-bit encryption
3. Crucial MX500
It seems strange that the Crucial MX500 is the only SATA drive left on our list of the best SSDs for gaming, but when the price delta between PCIe and SATA is so small, it’s difficult to make an argument for the far slower technology. But, as there is a hard limit on the number of M.2 slots on your motherboard, there is still a place for SATA SSDs as secondary storage.
And the Crucial MX500 is one of the best. With SATA’s maximum theoretical bandwidth limit of 600MB/s, it’s nearly as quick as you’ll get, and Crucial’s drives have long been among the best-value options available too. This is the most affordable 1TB SATA drive you can pick up and make a great second home for your Steam and Epic libraries.
It will happily function as a boot drive on systems with no M.2 sockets, or at least no bootable M.2 sockets anyway. You will still be missing out on the zippy response of your operating system running on the SSD-specific NVMe protocol, but if that’s not an option anyway, this drive will see you right.
- One of the fastest SATA drives
- Competitive price per GB
- Low endurance rating for heavy data writes
- Slow compared to any NMVe SSD
FAT32 Not an Option FAQ
How do I format my USB to FAT32 without the option?
Actually, if the Windows doesn’t display the FAT32 option, it means that the USB is larger than 32 GB. In this case, you can’t format the USB to FAT32 via any Windows built-in utility (like File Explorer, Disk Management, and DiskPart). Instead, you need to use third-party software.
Can I use exFAT instead of FAT32?
In general, exFAT is regarded as an alternative file system to replace FAT32. But this file system supports files larger than 4 GB and volumes larger than 32 GB. At the same time, it has greater compatibility than NTFS on more devices and operating systems. But if you really want to use exFAT to replace, please first check whether the device or system supports it.
Why I can’t format my external hard drive to FAT32?
If you can’t format an external drive to FAT32, possible reasons are as follows:
The partition that you need to format is larger than 32GB. It will show “The volume size is too big” error.
The partition need formatting to FAT32 is not the first primary partition on removable disk. It will show “An unexpected error has occurred” error.
It will show “The disk is write protected” error.
These operations are simple and fast, follow these simple steps, you can successfully solve the problem that “FAT32 option not available” and format a large hard drive to FAT32 easily and effectively. You can use the function of Format Partition to format USB drive from FAT32 to exFAT as well.