June 30, 2022

How to format a flash drive with FAT32 in Windows 11

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Formatting a storage device with FAT32 file system in Windows 11 is a task that cannot be done with the standard function that can be found in File Explorer by right-clicking on a player connected. But there are other equally simple ways that we will remember you

Start by saying that Windows supports multiple file systems to manage data and they are essential for allocating file space, managing free space, and accessing saved data. NTFS and exFAT are natively supported by Microsoft and are the main ones under Windows, but not the only ones usable. Here is FAT32, a file system that came to improve FAT16 and the previous FAT created for MS-DOS, which is less advanced than the named ones, but very useful in some scenarios.

Despite its limitations (it is not able to store files larger than 4 GB, it does not allow creating partitions larger than 8 TB) FAT 32 a advantages in terms of simplicity, versatility and compatibility with other operating systems (Linux, macOS, Android or others such as FreeBSD), which makes it particularly suitable for external/removable storage units such as USB sticks or microSD memory cards. Its uses are diverse and there are old devices that are the only file system they support.

FAT32 in Windows 11

FAT32 in Windows 11

When we connect an external storage unit in Windows, such as a USB key, the unit appears in the file explorer and from its context menu, the unit can be formatted in a very simple way with a click of mouse. However, in Windows 11 (or Windows 10), you will find that you can only use NTFS or exFAT this way.

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There are several methods to be able to format with FAT32 in Windows 11 using internal tools or through third-party software. Let’s go with them.

With Windows Console

Although Microsoft no longer supports FAT32 natively on its systems, it allows you to create drives with this file system using the console. Simply access the Windows Powershell advanced console and use the command “format /FS:FAT32 X:” where “X” is the letter of the drive we want to format:

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With third-party apps

FAT32 Format is one of the best application which you can use to format drives with FAT32 in Windows 11. It is an application free and portable which does not require installation and facilitates the task of formatting disks with this type of file.

Just download the software, run, select drive, enable format (quick format option) and get started. This application is a faster method than using the Windows console.

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Is FAT 32 for everything?

Clearly not and here we must recommend the use of exFAT whenever possible. Introduced in Windows XP, it is an evolution of FAT which tries to eliminate the limitations of FAT32, but without introducing all the improvements present in NTFS which is generally used in Windows for external storage units.

The main advantage of exFAT over its predecessor is that remove storage limitationsto be able to create larger partitions and to give the possibility of storing files larger than 4 GB, without losing one of the exceptional characteristics of FAT, the speed of reading and writing.

Like FAT32, exFAT It is ideal for use on USB sticks and external drives in general., with a special mention for devices over 16 GB in capacity. The great advantage of FAT32 is that it offers greater and better compatibility with a wider range of devices (especially older ones) and also other platforms, since these disks work on Linux, macOS, Android or other alternative systems such as FreeBSD.

Summary: FAT32 should only be used for compatibility reasons where exFAT will not work. Even so, it is still very useful in certain scenarios.


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