Can I Use exFAT Instead Of FAT32? How to Make the Transition?

If you do not know “Can I use exFAT instead of FAT32?”, this passage will share you answer, and guide you to effectively format to exFAT instead of FAT32.


By Irene / Updated on August 28, 2023

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What is exFAT and FAT32 in File System

File System

A file system is like a framework for organizing files on your computer or external storage. It decides how data is stored and what names, permissions, and other details files can have. Microsoft made formats like NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT for Windows. They also work on Apple devices, but some only let you view files, not save them.

file system comparison


FAT32 is a traditional file system from the File Allocation Table family. It was created for floppy disks and came with Windows 95. It's still used today, especially in memory cards and flash drives.

FAT32 is compatible with old and new devices but less efficient than newer systems. While it's a default for many devices due to its history, it has partition size limits, files over 4GB can't be saved, and partitions can't exceed 8TB. Newer Windows versions may not work well with FAT32 for internal drives.

For large files or uncompressed media, FAT32 might not be the best fit. However, it's a good choice for running Windows from a USB drive.


Introduced in 2006, the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) system became part of Windows XP and Vista updates. It's a mix between old FAT32 and modern NTFS formats, designed to work well with Windows.

exFAT is made for flash drives and is more flexible than FAT32. It's not as loaded as NTFS but more versatile than both. The standout benefit of exFAT is that it doesn't limit file sizes or partitions. On the downside, it's not as universally compatible as FAT32.

It's used in modern game consoles like PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Older consoles may still rely on FAT32.

Can I use exFAT instead of FAT32

For consideration like software compatibility, file size or security, you may want to know “Can I use exFAT instead of FAT32?” The answer is yes – you can indeed replace FAT32 with exFAT on many storage devices for tasks like data transfer.

However, if you want to optimize the performance of your storage devices, it's important to select the appropriate file system based on the size of the device:

If you're using an external storage device that is 32GB or smaller, please choose FAT32. It can't create partitions larger than 32GB or save files bigger than 4GB. This might be a concern when dealing with large videos, hefty software, or files that go beyond these limits.
For devices 64GB or more, go with exFAT. It suits various uses, especially when different devices need to work together or you're dealing with large files. It's great for storage, flash drives, modern devices, and easy file sharing across platforms.

How to format to exFAT instead of FAT32?

We have known the difference between exFAT and FAT32. If you want to convert exFAT to FAT32, here are 3 methods available.

Method 1. Use File Explorer to format FAT32 to exFAT

In most cases, you can smoothly and effectively reformat a flash drive from FAT32 to exFAT using Windows File Explorer. Here's a step-by-step guide for your reference (we'll use the process of formatting a USB flash drive to exFAT in Windows 10 as an example).

Step 1. Click on "This PC" to open File Explorer.

Step 2. Find your USB flash drive in the list of drives. Right-click on it and select "Format."

Step 3. In the format window, choose "exFAT" from the list of file systems. Then, click the "Start" button.

format to exfat file explorer

Note: If you can't see your external drive not showing in File Explorer, use Disk Management to manage it.

Method 2. Format to exFAT via CMD

If you're good in Diskpart command lines, you can format an external hard drive or flash drive using the Diskpart tool. Here's how:

Step 1. Press "Win + R," type "diskpart," and click "OK" to open Diskpart as an administrator.

Step 2. Enter the following commands in order and press "Enter" after each command:

"list disk"
"select disk n" (replace "n" with the number of the external drive)
"list partition"
"select partition m" (replace "m" with the number of the external drive partition)
"format fs=exfat"

The formatting process will be completed in a short time. To exit Diskpart, type "exit" and press "Enter."

format to exfat cmd

Method 3. Rely on a free FAT32 to exFAT converter

When it comes to formatting an external drive to exFAT, you can usually rely on Windows File Explorer or the Diskpart tool. But sometimes, these methods might not work due to issues like write protection or file system problems.

At this time, you can consider trying out the helpful FAT32 to exFAT converter - AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. This free tool is dependable and lets you transit from FAT32 to exFAT with ease. To safely and smoothly make this change, just download the tool and follow the steps below (we'll use the example of converting a FAT32-formatted SD card to exFAT).

Note: Formatting will cause data loss. Kindly please back up your important data in advance.

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Right click the targeted drive and choose “Format Partition”. 

Format Fat32 To Exfat 30gb

Step 2. Choose exFAT from the File System drop-down menu. If you need to, you can add Partition Label and specify Cluster Size.

File System Fat32 To Exfat 30gb

Step 3. Click “Apply” to perform the operation.

To sum up

With provided methods, you can get a clear answer about “Can I use exFAT instead of FAT32?” To avoid situations like write protection or file system problems, you can trust AOMEI Partition Assistant.

With this tool, you can also upgrade to the Professional Edition to use it to convert FAT32 to NTFS without data loss, convert system disk between MBR/GPT, or do partition management with ease. And, Windows Server Users can choose the Server Edition.

Irene · Staff Editor
Irene is an Editor of AOMEI Technology. She devotes herself in giving insightful thoughts on common computer problems with simple and clear guidance. Irene loves to help people solve problems and explore more solutions on relevant issues. She loves reading, singing and travelling.