If you try to format an external hard drive having a capacity of more than 32GB in Windows 10, then you will encounter many problems. First of all, Microsoft has removed the FAT32 file system option in the format utility available through the Windows File Explorer in Windows 10. If you try for format through the command prompt, you will be notified that it cannot proceed because hard drive is too large.
In order to format an external hard drive of capacity more than 32GB in Windows 10, you will have to use a third party format utility like Bootice. Here is how:
Note: Before formatting your hard drive, you should backup all the data stored on it.
- Attach your external hard drive to your Windows PC through a USB cable. Wait for it to appear in the File Explorer and carefully note the drive letter assigned to it. For example, in my case it is F: drive letter.
- Download Bootice from https://sites.google.com/site/gbrtools/home/software/bootice-portable/bootice-downloads. Extract it to a folder and launch Booticex86.exe or Booticex64.exe depending on whether you are running 32-bit version of Windows or 64-bit version of Windows.
- In the Bootice interface, select Destination disk to be external hard drive you want to work with. You can identify it with the drive letter you noted in step 1.
- Click on the Parts Manage button.
- Select the partition from the list and click on the Format this part button.
- In the window that opens up, select FAT32 as the file system and then click on the Start button.
Even though you can format a large hard drive with FAT32 file system, you must understand the limitations of this aging file system. The files stored on FAT2 file system cannot be larger than 4GB in size which means you won’t be able to download or copy Windows ISO image files on FAT32 formatted hard drives.