Easily Solved: Can’t Format to FAT32 for USB Drive in Windows 10 or 11

If you found you can’t format to FAT32 for USB flash drive via Windows native tools, you come to the right place. Read this post to know the reasons and get a professional disk formatter called AOMEI Partition Assistant.


By Bryce / Updated on April 17, 2024

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Why can't format to FAT32 for USB drive

You may choose to format your USB drive like USB flash drive or SD card to FAT32 file system, as FAT32 has great compatibility – it can be supported by different operating systems including Windows OS and Mac OS and various electronic devices. But you’ll find that you can‘t format to FAT32 for USB drive for different reasons. 

☞ The partition that you need to format is larger than 32GB. Windows will not allow you to format partition beyond 32GB to FAT32. If you format the partition in File Explorer, you’ll find that there is no FAT32 option in the Format window. If you format it via Diskpart, you’ll get the “The volume size is too big” error.

☞ The partition needs formatting to FAT32 is not the first primary partition on a removable disk. Windows recognizes only the first primary partition on removable devices like USB flash drive, thus you can’t format the partition except for the first one on USB flash drive or SD card.

Unexpected error

☞ The USB drive is write-protected. When USB drive is in read-only mode, you’ll not allowed to make any write operation to it. Thus, you are unable to format write-protected USB drive.

write protected

3 Workable solutions for can’t format to FAT32

For specific situations, different solutions will be presented in detail to assist you in solving format to FAT32 failure for USB drive.

► Turn to third-party professional USB format software

If you need to format large partition, such 64GB or 128GB partition to FAT32 or format the second partition on SD card/USB flash drive, you can turn to AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, a comprehensive and all-round USB FAT32 format tool for Windows operating system. It can help you to complete these operations quickly and simply. Free download it and have a look at how it works (Take formatting large partitions to FAT32 as an example).

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1. Install and run it. Right-click the partition that needs to be formatted to FAT32 and choose “Format Partition”.

Format Partitoin

Step 2. It will pop up a small window, choose FAT32 among displayed file systems and click “OK”. You are allowed to change cluster size of this partition and add a partition label to it as well.

Fat32 128gb Usb

Step 3. Return to the main console and you can review the operation. Please click “Apply” > “Proceed” after confirmation.


✐ Notes:
✔ If the partition going to be formatted is NTFS file system, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to convert it to FAT32 without data loss.
✔ For enjoying more functions like recovering lost partition on external hard drive, SD card, USB flash drive, migrating Windows 10 or 11 from HDD to SSD, and so on, it is recommended to upgrade to a Professional version.

► Remove write protection from USB drive

As mentioned above, you can’t format read-only USB drive to FAT32 file system. If you need to do so, you can remove write protection from it. Here offers you some solutions.

Way 1. Clear readonly attributes using Diskpart

1. Open Run dialogue by pressing Windows+R simultaneously.

2. Input “diskpart” and hit the Enter key.

3. Type the following command and hit Enter after each command.

▪ list disk
▪ select disk n
▪ attributes disk clear readonly

Attributes Disk Clear Readonly

Way 2. Disable write protection in Registry Editor

1. In Run box, type “regedit” and press “Enter” key.

2. Go to the path given below:


3. Right click the WriteProtect and change the value from 1 to 0. Then, click “OK” to disable read only for your USB drive.

Way 3. Adjust Windows local group policy

1. In the Run dialogue, input “gpedit.msc” and hit “Enter” key.

2. In the Windows local group policy editor window, navigate to:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Template>System > Removable Storage Access.

3. Disable “Removable Disks: Deny execute access”, “Removable Disks: Deny read access” and “Removable Disks: Deny write access”.

After removing write protection, you will be able to format USB drive to FAT32 or other file system.

► Format USB drives to FAT32 using PowerShell

Formatting USB drives to FAT32 can be challenging on Windows 10, as it lacks a native method to perform this task. However, you can utilize PowerShell to accomplish it. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1. Begin by launching PowerShell with administrator privileges. To do this, locate PowerShell in the start menu, right-click on it, and choose "Run as administrator."

Step 2. Execute the following command in PowerShell: "Format- /FS:FAT32 + drive letter" (e.g., format /FS:FAT32 D:). Remember to substitute "D:" with the actual drive letter assigned to your USB drive. Once you execute this command, the formatting process will commence, and your USB drive will be formatted to FAT32.

By following these steps, you can format your USB drive to FAT32 using PowerShell, ensuring compatibility with various devices.


1. How do I force FAT32 to format?

1. First, ensure that the USB drive's physical switch is moved to the off position to unlock it.

2. Next, execute the chkdsk command to examine and repair any file system errors present on the desired drive.

3. Then, access Disk Management and right-click on the intended drive for formatting. Choose the "Format" option from the context menu.

4. Proceed by resetting the drive label and selecting FAT32 as the desired file system format. Make sure to enable the "Perform a quick format" option.

5. Finally, click "OK" to initiate the formatting process.

2. Why can't I format USB to FAT32?

Why is my USB not formatting to FAT32? Several factors can hinder the success rate. These include:

1. USB drive being locked or write-protected, preventing any changes to its file system.

2. The USB drive is in a RAW state, making it challenging for Windows to format it effectively.

3. The USB drive has an unsupported file system that your computer cannot recognize.

4. The presence of viruses or malware on the USB drive, may interfere with the formatting process.

5. The USB drive's capacity exceeds 32GB, as Windows imposes a maximum volume size limit of 32GB for the FAT32 file system.

When encountering these obstacles, it is important to address each specific issue accordingly in order to successfully format your USB drive to FAT32.

3. How do I format my USB to FAT32 instead of exFAT?

When dealing with a USB drive that has a storage capacity of 32GB or smaller, you can easily format it to FAT32 by connecting it to your computer and using either File Explorer or Disk Management. This straightforward process allows you to format the USB drive without any complications.

However, if the USB drive is 64GB or larger, the native Windows tools may not offer the option to format it to FAT32. In such cases, you can utilize a third-party tool like AOMEI Partition Assistant. This software enables you to format the USB drive to FAT32, ensuring successful formatting instead of opting for the exFAT file system.


If you can't format to FAT32, you should figure out the reason for the issue at first. If the partition is too large or the partition is on an SD card/USB flash drive but not the first partition, turn to AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to format the partition with the FAT32 file system immediately. If the USB drive is write-protected, change its read-only status to normal firstly. Then, you can use Windows built-in tools or AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to format it.

In addition to formatting partitions, AOMEI software also comes with many other useful features such as resizing/moving partition, converting MBR to GPT without data loss, cloning hard drive to another, and so on.

Bryce · Staff Editor
Bryce is an editor of AOMEI Technology, he covers backup & restore, hard disk & partitions management, cloud files transfer, website & database backup and so on for AOMEI. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He would like to spend all time on reaserching computer problems. He is a very cute boy.