No matter you are using a pendrive, SD card, USB flash drive, SSD or other external hard drives to store your data, you will need to format it to FAT32 in the following situations.
①If you plan to use the disk on PS3, Xbox or some other games consoles that only supports FAT32 file system, then you will need to format the disk to FAT32.
②If you want your device to be compatible with more operating systems, like Mac, Linux and some other older versions of Windows including Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, etc, the FAT32 is the best choice.
③If you need to connect your hard drive to a NAS device, but the NTFS won't allow the NAS device to access the drive, then you need to format or convert NTFS to FAT32.
Full guide: Diskpart format to FAT32 in Windows 11/10/8/7
Usually, you can format a disk to FAT32 in File Explorer and Disk Management. However, if you fail to format hard drive to FAT32 successfully via these two built-in tools and receive formatting errors like "Windows was unable to complete the format" or "The format did not complete successfully", you can turn to DiskPart.exe tool. Below are steps about how to format USB to FAT32 with Command Prompt. You will need local administrator access on the computer to follow these steps.
Warning: The formatting process means data loss, so back up everything important before proceeding. You can back up to cloud or local drive.
Step 1. On your keyboard, press the "Windows + R" at the same time to open "Run" Window, then type "Diskpart" and click "OK" (click Yes if prompted by the User Access Control).
Step 2. DISKPART will open in a command prompt window. And type the following commands in sequence:
list disk: see all disks connected to your computer, and you need to identify which drive needs to be formatted by size.
select disk 1: select the disk which contains the target drive.
list partition: list all partitions on the disk.
select partition X: X refers the partition number that you need to format.
format fs=fat32 or format fs=fat32 quick
If the disk is set to be write-protected, you need to run extra different commands to format it to FAT32 via DiskPart.
"list disk >select disk 1 >attributes disk clear readonly >clean >create partition primary >format fs=fat32"
Diskpart format FAT32 error -"volume size is too big"
Although DiskPart is a great choice when Windows Disk Management and File Explorer fail to format hard drive to FAT32, it also shares a common limitation with the other two tools: they cannot format a large drive (over 32GB) to FAT32. When you try to perform such formatting task in Diskpart, you will receive an error message saying "The volume size is too big for FAT32"(as shown in the below screenshot).
Free DiskPart alternative: format large drive to FAT32 easily
When you meet the above-described error message or you are not an expert at running such complicated commands, you can search for a DiskPart alternative to easily format hard drive to FAT32. We highly recommend a free partition manager named AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. It is easy to use no matter you are either a computer expert or a newbie. It can help format a large hard drive (over 32GB) to FAT32 in below three steps.
Step 1. Download free software. Install and launch it. Right-click the disk partition you want to format as FAT32 and choose "Format Partition". Here we choose a 120GB drive.
Step 2. Select "FAT32" as the file system and click "OK".
Step 3. Back to the main interface, click "Apply" to actually begin formatting the disk.
Note: if the large hard drive happens to be with the NTFS file system, you can try AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard's Convert to NTFS/FAT32 , which allows you to convert file systems between FAT32 and NTFS without formatting or losing data.
So, when Diskpart format FAT32 disappoints you, AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard can be a great alternative. Besides, it can format write-protected disk directly. If you upgrade to Professional version, more advanced functions will be available, including converting boot disk between MBR and GPT without losing data, recovering lost partitions, cloning MBR disk to GPT and vice versa.
Moreover, you can try AOMEI Partition Assistant Server if you are mainly running Windows Server operating system. That supports both Windows PC and Server computers.