So you have got an external hard drive that of course has a larger capacity than 32GB. You want to format it in the FAT32 file system so you can use it with your PS3 or any other application that require something else than NTFS format. The only option you see is NTFS or exFAT file systems? The truth is that with Windows 10, 8, 7 and XP you can only format your drive in FAT32 if it features a capacity that is less than 32GB. That means you can’t format any modern external hard drive in FAT32. Or can you?
In Windows, you can format an external hard drive that has a bigger capacity than 32GB in FAT32, but you have to do it through DOS or Command Prompt. However, if your drive is 1TB or more you may get an error message saying that the volume is too big for FAT32. If it is so, the only solution is using third-party manufacturer software. We have created a guide how to format your drive in FAT32 using different methods.
Maybe you don’t need FAT32 but can manage with exFAT?
When you try to format your external hard drive, you will most likely see two choices – NTFS and exFAT. If you are here, then it’s clear that NTFS won’t work for you, but how about exFAT?
While exFAT is mainly optimized for USB flash drives, it’s still a very lightweight system like FAT32 that doesn’t have as many features but overcomes many FAT32 limitations. Similar to NTFS, exFAT also has very large limits on partition size and file size. In the result, you can store files that are much larger than 4GB which is a maximum limit that FAT32 can store.
exFAT doesn’t offer so wide range of compatibility as FAT32 does, but it’s still more widely-compatible than the standard NTFS file system. For example, with exFAT, you can read and write files on Mac while you can’t do the same with NTFS. Compatibility wise you can use exFAT for PS4, but can’t use it for PS3. Can use it for Xbox One, but can’t use it for Xbox 360. And if you want to use it with Linux, you will have to get an additional software. The main pros of exFAT are its unlimited file-size and partition size.
Formatting external hard drive in exFAT
- Attach your external hard drive to USB port (doesn’t matter whether it’s USB 3.0 or USB 2.0)
2. Open “File Explorer” as shown below:
3. In the “File Explorer” go under “This PC” and find your external hard drive. Right-click on it and select “Format..‘
4. Now in Format window, go under “File system” and choose exFAT, click “Start“
That’s it. Now your external hard drive is formatted into exFAT. If the appliance you want to use your external hard drive with isn’t too old, exFAT should work just fine. If it’s not the case, keep on reading to see other methods.
Formatting external hard drive in FAT32 using Command Prompt
We will explain this using Windows 10. However, everything should be the same using other operating systems. There is no real difference. The user interface is the only thing that can look bit different.
- Go to search (magnifier icon) and type cmd, press enter. The Command Prompt should open.
- Now type the command “format /FS:FAT32 X:” and replace “X” with the letter of your external hard drive. When done, hit enter. It will ask if you want to proceed with the format. You can press y or n. Press “y” and hit enter. Now Windows should format your external hard drive. However, in some cases this can take a lot of time and if it takes longer than 1hour just cancel it and try again. If it doesn’t work, try methods mentioned below.
Format in FAT32 using third-party software
If none of the previous methods worked, the only way to format your external hard drive in FAT32 is through special software. Seagate and Western Digital have created their own software for formatting in FAT32: Seagate DiscWizard and Western Digital FAT32 Formatting Tool.
If you own a different brand external HDD, you will have to format your drive with one of the programs mentioned below:
“Format FAT32” is a free tool that you can download to format your drive. All you have to do is choose your external hard drive. Choose all other variables like allocation unit size, volume a label and then click Start. This software will do the rest. Make sure you keep “Quick Format” box checked as this will save your time. We have tested this software, and it works great.
FAT32Formatter is another great choice to format your external had drive in FAT32. The main feature of this drive is that you can see and format different partitions on your drive. Meaning that you can format only one or two partitions in FAT32 and leave the rest on NTFS. However, we don’t recommend getting a mix of file systems on your drive. But if you want, you can do so.
If you have to format an external hard drive in FAT32, first you should decide wether you need an FAT32 or exFAT can also manage your application. Formatting in exFAT is very easy and doesn’t require any software. If you do need exactly FAT32, try formatting your drive through Command Prompt, it’s really easy just copy and paste command, and that’s it! And at the end, if nothing seems to work and your sick of trying, just download any of free formatting software above, and you will have a drive with the FAT32 file system in no time.