FAT32 vs. NTFS: Which is better for USB Stick?
FAT32 and NTFS are different partition file systems that are widely used in Windows operating systems. One can change the file system without formatting between FAT32 and NTFS. USB flash drive is organized in clusters and the allocation unit size describes the size of a single cluster like other hard drives.
Old as it is, FAT32 is still a better file system for the USB drive. Two main factors account for this:
Since it was created early, FAT32 is compatible with virtually all operating systems. As a removable device, being moved around between different operating systems, XBOX, PS3/PS4, Android, etc. is a common computing behavior. So compatibility is quite an important property for the USB drive.
FAT32 takes up less space on a USB drive and has less disk writing operations, which provides faster speed and less memory usage.
Although FAT32 is the better file system used on a USB key, there are several limits to using this file system. FAT32 fails to read single files larger than 4GB and single partitions greater than 2TB. Just pay attention to these limitations when dealing with them.
Format USB to FAT32 Using Diskpart
Windows actually provides snap-in partition format tools, Disk Management and Command Prompt. Disk Management has a graphical user interface which makes it easy to use for most users. Go to Computer/This PC > Manage to open this utility. Right-click the partition you want to format and select “Format…” and done. During this process, you have the choice to choose a file system.
Diskpart.exe is frequently used for advanced users because it offers unattended service as well. It is also a good program to format, for example, SONY Bravia USB or a pen drive, to FAT32 or NTFS. USB made by manufacturers like HP, Kingston, Samsung, etc. can also be formatted in this manner. Following are detailed steps on formatting USB to FAT32 using CMD. Plugin the drive via a USB port first.
1. Press+key combo to start Run. Then type “diskpart” in the box and press to open Command Prompt.
2. Input the following commands in order and each command is followed by
• list volume
• select volume X (X is the partition on the USB drive)
• format fs=fat32 quick
Note: Formatting the USB storage device will delete all contents on the device. Make a backup image for important files on the USB, if any. One can also use this method to format a bootable USB flash drive that was used as a boot device before FAT32.
Common problems of formatting USB drive to FAT32
So fast and simple, but it still has some issues with formatting different USB flash drives. Below are three main common troubles one may encounter.
◤ 1. Format USB flash drive larger than 32GB to FAT32
As is known to all, Windows format tools have a drawback in formatting large partitions to FAT32. FAT32 takes a 32-bit file allocation table, which strengthens the managing capability to disk and breaks out the limitation that the volume of every partition is 2GB. To be specific, Windows does not allow users to format removable partition that is bigger than 32GB to the FAT32 file system, so you can't format 64GB USB to FAT32.
One of its defeats is allowing to be the creation of up to 32GB volume. Therefore, Windows just won’t recognize partitions bigger than 32GB formatted with FAT32.
In Disk Management, if you format the partition, you’ll find there is no “FAT32” option available when choosing file system, only NTFS or ExFAT show up. If formatting with Diskpart, chances are that, you’ll get a “The volume size is too big” error. As a result, to format the partition in large sizes like 64GB or128GB to FAT32, one needs to ask third-party software for help.
◤ 2. Format a write-protected USB drive to FAT32
There is one more important point that may be frequently discussed during USB drive formatting, i.e. USB write-protected warning. In general, there are several factors that may result in the issue, the USB is infected by a virus, the write protection switch is turned on, incorrect value in the Windows registry key, or the USB is filled up. Kingston USB stick, like other USB drives, is likely to encounter USB write protection, and so does to Intenso USB drive.
There are many tools you can use to remove the write protection while formatting to FAT32, Diskpart, RegEdit, write-protection removal software, and a USB repair tool. All of them are basically useful for every user. For specific steps, please refer to 4 Ways to Remove Intenso 64GB USB Stick Write Protected.
◤ 3. Format USB drive FAT32 allocation unit size
Allocation unit size is a key point that will influence the partition read and write speed and memory use. A larger cluster leads to more waste or slack space, while a smaller cluster means smaller pieces of a file that need longer time to access the file and the USB drive becomes slower.
Therefore, if you want to store large files on your USB drive, a large cluster size will make it run faster. But if you want to store small files or run programs off your USB drive, a smaller cluster size will preserve space. After knowing this, you will make a better choice in choosing partition cluster size later.
FAT32 USB formatter -- AOMEI Partition Assistant
AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional is reliable and all-around USB FAT32 format software designed for Windows 11/10, 8/8.1/7/XP/Vista. It allows users to format large partitions, for instance, 64GB in size, to FAT32. In the meantime, write protection and cluster size problems can be taken care of by the software.
Except for the USB drive, AOMEI Partition Assistant is able to format 64GB SD card to FAT32, USB hard drive, USB HDD, USB Pen Drive, portable external hard drive, and the like. It has a user-friendly interface and easy-to-follow wizards.
Now we'll show you how to format a 64GB flash drive to FAT32. In the first place, insert the 64GB USB stick into the computer via a USB port. Make sure it is detected by Windows.
1. Download AOMEI Partition Assistant, install, and launch it. Right-click the USB drive and select “Format Partition”.
2. In the pop-up window, select FAT32 as a partition file system (you can format EXT2/3 as well). There is a default cluster size, and surely you can change it to any other options as you wish. Edit the partition label if you want to.
3. Here is a virtual outcome. Click “Apply” > “Proceed” to make it real.
Simple and fast, the formatting process needs only three steps with the help of a professional FAT32 USB format tool. As a matter of fact, AOMEI Partition Assistant is capable of solving many other troubles. For example, you can create a bootable device (CD/DVD or USB) and then format the hard drive without Windows OS.
Normally, we are tending to format the USB partition to FAT32 using the FAT32 USB format tool or similar if it is new. However, in some cases, the USB has been used before, formatted with NTFS, and contains important files. If we don’t want to move these files to other locations, it is a wise move to convert USB from NTFS to FAT32 without formatting. And this powerful tool can also convert MBR to GPT disk to help users to upgrade to Windows 11.