The Thinking Behind 32GB Windows Format

The Thinking Behind 32GB Windows Format

Truth be told. Despite the advancements made in file systems such as NTFS, ext4, and HFS+, the classic 32GB Windows Format file system still appears to be the best option for high interoperability between major operating systems with read/write capability (and a master file allocation table that doesn’t trash itself as easily as the newer exFAT can).

Unfortunately, due to peculiar licencing arrangements and a phenomenon I call “OS Nationalism,” most file systems tend to be created specifically for the operating system they were meant to run with, and they have either limited or no support on competing platforms.

The Thinking Behind 32GB Windows Format

For instance, if you have a drive formatted for Windows using NTFS, but you’re using Mac OS X, you’ll need third-party drivers in order to be able to write to it.

But if you weren’t sure how secure the third-party tool was, would you trust it with your data? If you’re not comfortable installing extra software, this won’t help you if you take your drive with you and plug it into a public computer where you don’t have administrative access or the necessary drivers installed.

The Thinking Behind 32GB Windows Format

Although FAT32 has limitations in regards to file size, access control lists, and disc quotas, it is adequate for basic sneaker-net type operations between operating systems.

One big obstacle stands in the way of users who wish to prepare drives for such applications: Windows cannot format drives and partitions greater than 32GB under FAT32.

Make a partition of 32GB at first, and then expand it to use up the balance of the free space. However, Windows’ built-in resizing utilities do not work with any file format besides NTFS.

FAT32 Format, developed by Ridgecrop Consultants Ltd., is the only programme I’ve seen that can get around the 32GB constraint.

Figure A shows the graphical user interface for the fat32format tool, which, at first glance, appears to be very similar to the standard Windows format utility.

All you have to do is grab this programme, launch it, select the drive or partition you want to format, and you’re good to go. Not much else can be said about it.


Modifying a drive formatted in FAT32 requires administrative rights. Because FAT32 Format does not do disc integrity checks on newly formatted FAT32 volumes, it is recommended to use the command “chkdsk /R x:” after the format, where x: is the letter of the volume being checked.

This will take some time, so feel free to crack open a cold one while you wait.