By Emily / Last Updated March 18, 2020

Scenario

“Hello, I have tried to reformat my 64GB flash drive using Windows Server 2012 Disk Management, after reformatting it to FAT32, now it is showing up as only 32GB. I can see there is another unallocated space (around 27GB) in the Disk Management, but I cannot add it to the 32GB FAT32 partition, why it happens? And then how do i retrieve the rest capacity. Thanks!”

What’s the maximum volume size in Windows Server 2012?

In Windows Server 2012, you may find your partition is always less than 32GB no matter how big the disk partition is. Generally, it is always related to the Windows Server 2012 volume size limit, exactly the FAT32 partition size limit. FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32) is the most popular version of the FAT file system, and it has been widely used in many operating systems including Windows Server 2012 due to its great compatibility. But it has volume limit size and its max partition size is 2TB.

Namely, if your hard drive size exceeds the maximum partition size, you will be unable to format it as a single FAT32 partition. To force format 2TB hard drive to FAT32, you will need the help of the third-party partition manager. With the Windows native tools (DiskPart, Disk Management or Windows File Explorer), the largest partition size you can format to FAT32 is 32GB. That’s why some users find theirlarge FAT32 partition only shows 32GB.

Bonus tip:
FAT32 partition also has the max file size-4GB. You cannot save a single file, over 4GB. to a FAT32 partition, or you will receive errors: The File Is Too Large for the Destination File System, The Parameter Is Incorrect, etc.

How to break the Windows Server 2012 volume size limit?

Knowing the FAT32 volume size limit in Server 2012 or other operating systems, how to break it safely? To achieve that, we have to learn another file system: NTFS. It is a newer and more advanced file system. Compared with FAT32,it is able to support a larger partition. There are no realistic partition size limits for NTFS file system. Moreover, it is more secure and robust.

So we can break the Windows Server 2012 (R2) volume size limit by converting the FAT32 to NTFS. There are 2 methods to realize the conversion without damaging the data in Windows Server.

Method 1. Turn to a Server partition manager

Considering the data security, firstly we would like to recommend AOMEI Partition Assistant Server, which comes with a NTFS to FAT32 converter, allowing you to change file systems between FAT32 and NTFS without losing data in Windows Server operating systems including Server 2012 (R2), 2008 (R2), 2016, 2019 and SBS 2003, 2008, 2011.

Now you can free download the Demo version and learn how to overcome Windows Server 2012 partition size limit.

Step 1. Run AOMEI Partition Assistant Server and click “All Tools”> “NTFS to FAT32 Converter”.

Ntfs To Fat32 Converter

Step 2. In the welcome screen, choose “FAT32 to NTFS”and click “Next”.

Fat32 To Ntfs

Step 3. Choose the target FAT32 partition and click “Next”.

Choose Fat32 Partition

Step 4. Click Proceed and then “Yes”to confirm the conversion.

Fat32 To Ntfs Yes

Step 5. Wait for it to be completed.

Finish

Apart from converting FAT32 to NTFS or vice versa without data loss, this freeware also comes with other advantages over Windows Server Disk Management, such as creating a 32GB+ FAT32 partition and resizing FAT32 partition (Disk Management can only extend or shrink NTFS or RAW partition).

Method 2. Use Command Prompt

Command Prompt is a very useful application available in most Windows operating systems. Hence, we can use Command Prompt to break FAT32partitionlimitationin Windows Server 2012.

Step 1. Press “Win+R” to open “Run” box, type "cmd" in the search box and run it.

Step 2. In the command shell type“convert [drive letter:] /fs:ntfs”and press Enter. For example, if you want to convert partition f to NTFS partition, you should type "convert f: /fs:ntfs".

Convert Fat32 Ntfs Cmd

Then the FAT32 partition will be converted into NTFS file system. But you should note this operation is not irreversible. As long as you convert a FAT32 partition to NTFS, you cannot convert it back to FAT32 with the command prompt, unless you reformat it to FAT32, which will erase all data on the partitions.

Further reading: Windows Server 2012 disk size limit

Above we explain how to overcome Windows Server 2012 volume size limit, now we would like to tell something about Server 2012 disk size limit. The partition size limitation is about FAT32 and NTFS file systems, and the disk size limit is about MBR and GPT partition styles.

MBR can support 2TB hard disk at most. In other words, if you initialized your 3TB hard disk to MBR, you can only use 2TB storage space, and the rest space will be shown as unallocated space in Disk Management, which cannot be used to create a new partition or extend another existing partition. In this case, to break the disk size limitation, you need to convert the larger hard disk to GPT, which supports the bigger hard drive.

To complete the MBR to GPT conversion, you can use Disk Management and Diskpart, but both of them require you to delete all partitions on MBR disk before converting. That, of course, will erase all data inside. If you don’t want to delete volumes and lose everything on the disk, AOMEI Partition Assistant Server can also help. It can convert MBR to GPT without losing data/removing volumes.

Convert 3tb To Gpt

Conclusion

Now you know the Windows Server 2012 volume size limit as well as how to overcome it when necessary. By contrast, AOMEI Partition Assistant Server provides a safer way to break the partition or disk size limitation in Windows Server 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019 and Windows PC. In addition to the mentioned functions, it also has other fantastic features: migrate OS to SSD, extend NTFS system drive without reboot, clone partition, clone MBR disk to GPT,etc.