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How to format a 4TB drive as FAT32?


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#1 gx240

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:26 AM

I have a 4TB GPT external USB hard drive that I need to format as FAT32. (Yes, I know there are better filesystems; I need FAT32.) I have other 4TB external drives already formatted as FAT32 (see attached image), but I can't remember what program I used to do it. Searching has been unusually unhelpful. Google just leads to a bunch of people saying that FAT32 volumes can never exceed 2TB, which obviously isn't true.
 
I've tried the Windows "format" command, Ridgecorp's guiformat, Acronis True Image, AOMEI Partition Assistant, EaseUS Partition Master, and MiniTool Partition Wizard, but all of them limit FAT32 volumes to 2TB (despite the fact that some of them explicitly claim that they can create larger volumes on their websites).
 
Does anyone know an application that can create a 4TB FAT32 volume?
 
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#2 OldPhil

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:56 AM

Here is a good explaination.

 

https://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/formatting-external-hard-drive-to-fat-32/


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#3 britechguy

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 11:39 AM

If I may ask, why do you need FAT32?


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

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#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:33 PM

If you want FAT32 on a 4TB drive which I do not recommend you need to first initialize the disk as GPT then partition and format as FAT32. Some third party partition managers can convert MBR to GPT on data disks without data loss but you should still back up any data on the drive.

 

MBR partition tables only support up to 2TB. That is why you see the 2TB limit for FAT32.



#5 Kilroy

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:55 PM

According to this page (and a few others), the maximum FAT32 partition is 2TB, so you will need to create two partitions.



#6 JohnC_21

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 01:23 PM

OPs first image proves you can go past 2TB on a FAT32 partition.

 

https://www.disk-partition.com/articles/format-3tb-hard-drive-to-fat32-4125.html



#7 jonuk76

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:02 PM



OPs first image proves you can go past 2TB on a FAT32 partition.

 

https://www.disk-partition.com/articles/format-3tb-hard-drive-to-fat32-4125.html

 

Some large USB drives have a feature in the controller that "translates" the disk sector size to 4096 bytes (instead of 512).  This increases the 32 bit addressable space eightfold, so would make the size limit for MBR disks 16 Tb (instead of 2 Tb) and possibly would do allow the same for FAT32 partitions (I've never tried it).  I have a disk that behaves like this - an external Seagate/Samsung 3 Tb drive.  The advantage is it can be used with old OS's that don't work with GPT, like XP.  The disadvantage is it breaks compatibility with some programs, e.g. Windows 7 Backup won't work with a drive with 4K sectors, period.

 

The below is the output from fsutil for this external drive first (h:) and an Advanced Format 512e drive (a 5 Tb Toshiba, d:)  for comparison.  

 

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> fsutil fsinfo sectorinfo h:
LogicalBytesPerSector :                                 4096
PhysicalBytesPerSectorForAtomicity :                    4096
PhysicalBytesPerSectorForPerformance :                  4096
FileSystemEffectivePhysicalBytesPerSectorForAtomicity : 4096
Device Alignment :                                      Aligned (0x000)
Partition alignment on device :                         Aligned (0x000)
Performs Normal Seeks
Trim Not Supported
Not DAX capable
 

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> fsutil fsinfo sectorinfo d:
LogicalBytesPerSector :                                 512
PhysicalBytesPerSectorForAtomicity :                    4096
PhysicalBytesPerSectorForPerformance :                  4096
FileSystemEffectivePhysicalBytesPerSectorForAtomicity : 4096
Device Alignment :                                      Aligned (0x000)
Partition alignment on device :                         Aligned (0x000)
Performs Normal Seeks
Trim Not Supported
Not DAX capable


Edited by jonuk76, 09 February 2018 - 05:11 PM.

7sbvuf-6.png


#8 JohnC_21

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:34 PM

Very interesting post jonuk, thanks.



#9 Kilroy

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 12:35 PM

While you may be able to format a drive beyond 2TB the real question is can you reliably use it?

 

I don't remember the largest FAT32 partition that I've had in the past.

 

It all goes back to why does it need to be FAT32?  There may be a better option available, like exFAT.



#10 britechguy

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 12:56 PM

It all goes back to why does it need to be FAT32?  There may be a better option available, like exFAT.

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!   There is a reason I asked the question in the first place, and the answer was never forthcoming.  Trying to force a square peg into a round hole, metaphorically speaking, is simply a bad idea.

 

Unless we're talking about really ancient technology somewhere in the mix there's almost nothing that can't at least read NTFS (and most read/write) and the same for exFAT.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

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#11 JohnC_21

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 01:46 PM

From my link in post #6. 

 

I think the gaming consoles and media players can only detect HDDs formatted FAT32. I can't say if the gaming consoles can detect ExFAT. I'm pretty sure PS3 needs FAT32.



#12 britechguy

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 01:58 PM

John,

 

         Hence the reason that additional data from the original poster (OP) would be most welcome.   What follows is not meant as a reflection on the OP, but as a general statement:   What many people believe they "must have" in any number of contexts is often not something they "must have."   If you're looking for assistance, and want accurate final answers, it's helpful to offer additional information when requested.  One can't give a definitive answer with a virtual black box as a starting point.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

      Memory is a crazy woman that hoards rags and throws away food.

                    ~ Austin O'Malley

 

 

 

              

 


#13 medab1

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 02:19 PM

FORGET Fat 32.

Use NTFS.

Google the difference.


Learn to take screenshots & add them to your posts. :thumbup2:

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/43088/how-to-capture-and-edit-a-screen-shot/#entry4532851

Learn to use Google Search.  :busy:

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#14 Tack2sr

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 09:06 PM

I have a similar issue, with similar unhelpful responses along the lines of "cant be done" or "use exfat" or "use ntfs".  bah.  I got it to work, though I don't know if my solution will work for you.  posting it here, just in case it will help you or anyone with this issue.  Also, I'm not sure all these steps are necessary.  I got the end result I wanted after some trial and error..

 

1st i used windows standard disk tool to format the drive to ntfs, full 4tb

 

2nd i used acronis WD edition to format the drive to exfat, and make sure its gpt and not mbr  (i dont think mbr will let you go over 2TB anyway, and I don't believe theres a way around that one.  If yer after this for PS3, you might be sol.  I hear they only read MBR.  I dont have one, so i dunno.  Im using mine for Wii and WiiU.  I could be wrong about the 2TB limit or the lack of ability to read gpt, id say try it anyway.  cant hurt!)

 

3rd back to windows disk, and back to ntfs, still 4tb

 

(at no point this far did guiformat want to do it, kept erroring with max 2tb, pretty sure i tried about 50 times)

 

4th i used WD Quickformatter, with compatibility set to win xp

 

5th Lo and behold, guiformat did not throw an error, and formatted the full drive to 4tb.  And there was much rejoicing.

 

Only the last 2 steps may be important. like I said I'm not really sure.  I did them all.  Probably more times than I listed.  I think at some point i changed the cluster sizes around, but I believe every time the drive was reformatted it reset those to default.

 

I say this may not work for you if you do not have a WD drive of some sort.  If not, i highly recommend trying any or all of the drive utilities provided by the manufacturer, then try guiformat after each one.  I don't know what changes, but something about reformatting with the manuf. tool allows guiformat to disregard the 2TB limit.

 

The last time I did this I did it differently, though I cannot for the life of me remember how.  I do remember having to run something in a lower version of windows compatibility mode, maybe xp, or 7.  one of the format tools I think.  or maybe just run in admin mode..  I dont know.  

 

Im way too lazy to put links in all of this, but google will find everything up there with no problems.

 

Good luck!  Hope this helps!






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