The volume is too big for FAT32.

March 28, 2020 at 06:33:52
Specs: Win 7, 8GB
FAT32 has some issue, one being the fact it has issues formatting large devices, such as larger SDHC cards. In that context, 32G is considered as "large".

So, I have a 64G and a 128G SDHC card, which I can format NTFS or exFAT and still use the entire volume, but the external devices doesn't play ball and only reads

FAT32.

This one page
https://www.howtogeek.com/316977/ho...
states you can do two things:
- use format.com with powershell
- use a 3rd party tool

The 3rd party tool ( http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/in...
) actually does the job, but my question is about format.com

Or, it is about ANY tool that is standard to Windows, that can do what is being asked:
- format a larger than 32G device
- retaining all of the respective volume

So, not formatting 32G partitions in a 128G device.

I seriously doubt that format.com would behave differently in PowerShell, because it still is the same tool, so I had a test.

This is my "CMD" run:

C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /V:TEST001 /Q
Insert new disk for drive D:
and press ENTER when ready...
The type of the file system is EXFAT.
The new file system is FAT32.
QuickFormatting 61071M
The volume is too big for FAT32.
C:\>

This is my "Powershell" run:

PS C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /V:TEST001 /Q
Insert new disk for drive D:
and press ENTER when ready...
The type of the file system is EXFAT.
The new file system is FAT32.
QuickFormatting 61071M
The volume is too big for FAT32.
PS C:\>

Tried the same, but without the "Quick" option.
This one takes much longer to run, but it ends in the same.

PS C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /V:TEST002
Insert new disk for drive D:
and press ENTER when ready...
The type of the file system is EXFAT.
The new file system is FAT32.
Verifying 61071M
The volume is too big for FAT32.
PS C:\>

So, all of these fail. Notice that the error message is displayed at the end of the attempt.
For the non-quick runs, that means it runs for a very long time, then fails.
The percentages are displayed during format, but they disappear when the error message is shown.

The error message displayed by format.com ("The volume is too big for FAT32.") thus is an incorrect statement.
It should read : "This application cannot format a volume with this size in FAT32."


Somewhere on the net I read this:
FAT32 is limited to 2^32 sectors. With 512 byte sectors that means a 2TB drive

I know that you change the maximum format volume by just changing the allocation unit size,
but that is something else. The allocation unit sizes are neatly explained using

format.com /?

I always assumed that you can overrule many limits, by changing the allocation unit size.
But, that on itself doesn't quite work, as this still fails:

$ format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:64K /V:TEST003 /Q
Insert new disk for drive D:
and press ENTER when ready...
The type of the file system is FAT32.
QuickFormatting 61071M
The volume is too big for FAT32.

C:\>
$ format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:128K /V:TEST004 /Q
Insert new disk for drive D:
and press ENTER when ready...
The type of the file system is FAT32.
QuickFormatting 61071M
The specified cluster size is too big for FAT.
C:\>

So, next is to change the cluster size, but this involves
some guessing, as it states:

/N:sectors Specifies the number of sectors per track.

So I'm basing on the above statement "With 512 byte sectors (..)":

C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:128K /N:512 /V:TEST005 /Q
Must enter both /t and /n parameters.
C:\>

So, you must also enter /T

/T:tracks Specifies the number of tracks per disk side.

Or you get error:

Must enter both /t and /n parameters.
Trying with some:

C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:128K /N:512 /T:100 /V:TEST006 /Q
Parameters not compatible.
C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:128K /N:512 /T:10 /V:TEST006 /Q
Parameters not compatible.
C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:128K /N:512 /T:10000 /V:TEST006 /Q
Parameters not compatible.
C:\> format.com D: /FS:FAT32 /A:128K /N:512 /T:10000000 /V:TEST006 /Q
Parameters not compatible.
C:\>

Looking on Google for this, a lot is referring to ancient MS-DOS usage.
But I'm left with the question:
How do you make this command work ?


See More: The volume is too big for FAT32.

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#1
March 28, 2020 at 07:06:01
"FAT32 has some issue, one being the fact it has issues formatting large devices"

Not exactly true. Microsoft deliberately put a 32GB limit their FAT32 formatting tool to "force" people to use NTFS. 3rd party tools do not have this limit. In fact, many of them allow you to choose the cluster size while formatting to control the slack space.

So my question to you is, why mess with format.com & the command line/powershell when you can install an app & do what you want with just a few clicks of the mouse?


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#2
March 28, 2020 at 07:31:48
"Not exactly true. Microsoft deliberately put a 32GB limit their FAT32 formatting tool to "force" people to use NTFS."

Is that true ? Can you post me a Microsoft statement on that ?

I think the reason is because they don't really know how to format FAT32 drives, and they have ended up with a crippled format.com tool, that now runs into problems, because drives are actually getting bigger. Who had figured ?

I personally think Microsoft likes FAT a bit too much, and you can see that in the way they try to hang on to a format that is actually obsoleted for pure Windows usage. Remember, it's a non-journalled system, which cannot carry extensive Windows file-rights correctly.

And, it has doubtful limits, like maximum file size of 4GB. To today standards, that's a fail.

But the reason why format.com can't, is because MS technically weren't capable to deliver.

It's not a technical limit, the other formatting tools prove that. But still MS claim it is a technical limit. So, that is also contradicting what you state.


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#3
March 28, 2020 at 07:36:48
> So my question to you is, why mess with format.com & the command line/powershell
> when you can install an app & do what you want with just a few clicks of the mouse?

Why not ?


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Related Solutions

#4
March 28, 2020 at 08:36:43
"Is that true ? Can you post me a Microsoft statement on that ?"

I can provide a couple of links but they don't explicitly state it. You have to read between the lines.

Microsoft introduced the NTFS file system in the early 90s for Windows NT3.1. At the time, most home users were running Windows 3.x using the FAT16 format. If I'm not mistaken, the early versions of Win95 used FAT16, the later OSR2 releases supported FAT32. After the OS2 release, all subsequent Win9x versions - 98FE, 98SE, ME - supported FAT32. When Win2000 was released, it could be setup with either NTFS or FAT32, but Microsoft limited FAT32 to 32GB. Remember that 20-25 years ago, we didn't have the huge capacity HDDs that we have today. 32GB was considered huge so it wasn't really an issue. My 1st Win95 computer had a 2.1GB Quantum Bigfoot with 5.25" platter.

"NOTE: Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 does not support the FAT32 file system."
"NOTE: Microsoft Windows 2000 only supports FAT32 partitions up to a size of 32 GB."
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us...

Many years ago, I formatted a Western Digital 60GB HDD with FAT32 & customized the cluster size to 4k, same as the default cluster size for NTFS, using the WD DataLifeGuard Tools. I ran XP for years that way with no problems. Do you have a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD)?
https://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

"Why not ?"

If you like a challenge, go right ahead. I'm just saying there are alternatives that are much easier.

message edited by riider


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#5
March 28, 2020 at 10:23:48
I suspect that the reason for this is because Microsoft want to keep FAT 32 filesystems formatted on Windows 10 compatible with earlier Windows version. This is particularly important with removable devices. The suggestion that Microsoft don't know how to format their own filesystem to its full potential is clearly ridiculous.

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#6
March 29, 2020 at 09:57:22
> I suspect that the reason for this is because Microsoft want to keep FAT 32 filesystems
> formatted on Windows 10 compatible with earlier Windows version. This is particularly
> important with removable devices.

You're confusing the use of FAT and the formatting fact of it. If you want to read an "old" disk that is formatted with an old Windows, and in FAT32 ... Why would you want to format it in FAT again ?

You can read it, even write to it. No need to format.

> The suggestion that Microsoft don't know how to
> format their own filesystem to its full potential is clearly ridiculous.

Yes, the real reason is they don't want to. Which then causes a new question : why don't they want to ?


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#7
March 29, 2020 at 10:02:53
> If you like a challenge go right ahead.

Will do

> I'm just saying there are alternatives that are much easier.

That's an opinion, not a fact.


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#8
March 29, 2020 at 10:14:23
You might want to read a device formatted on Windows 10 with an earlier version of Windows. Since some earlier versions did not support FAT32 devices greater than 32GB this could be a problem. FAT32 is such ancient technology that Microsoft didn't want to bother with such problems.

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#9
March 29, 2020 at 10:50:36
"That's an opinion, not a fact."

OK, but it's an opinion based on fact. Is it a fact or an opinion that you're struggling with this?

"Which then causes a new question : why don't they want to ?"

Because they want you to use NTFS which is their file system. FAT32 is for lack of a better term "open source", plus it has limitations on file size, file/folder naming, etc. NTFS is proprietary; it was developed by Microsoft so of course they want you to use it. It also has advantages over FAT32.
https://www.minitool.com/lib/ntfs.html

As ijack pointed out, FAT32 is generally used for external devices because it's compatible across all Windows platforms & can also be read by Linux & MAC devices.


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#10
March 30, 2020 at 23:06:50
It's also very readable by every device that uses SD cards such as cameras, etc. FAT32 and exFAT have pretty much become the industry standard for any device that needs a storage card but doesn't need the security of NTFS.

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#11
March 31, 2020 at 01:39:36
Unless you are using old devices that don't support it, exFAT is a far better choice than FAT32.

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#12
March 31, 2020 at 15:21:17
> You might want to read a device formatted on Windows
> 10 with an earlier version of Windows. Since some
> earlier versions did not support FAT32 devices greater
> than 32GB this could be a problem. FAT32 is such ancient
> technology that Microsoft didn't want to bother with
> such problems.

I'm sure MS knows the real extent of the issue, but to me
it looks like ANY Windows that can read and write to FAT32,
can read and write to a FAT32 disk which is 32GB+

They just can't format it, but when it is formatted, it just works.

It's not like Ridgecrop and Minitool (and whoever else) has
expanded FAT32 in any way.


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#13
March 31, 2020 at 15:22:59
> Unless you are using old devices that don't support it, exFAT is
> a far better choice than FAT32.

Well, let's test that, I'll feed my external devices a 128GB SDHC with exFAT, see what happens ...

Obviously, these are "old" devices


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#14
March 31, 2020 at 15:25:21
> OK, but it's an opinion based on fact. Is it a fact or an opinion
> that you're struggling with this?

I'm still looking for a way to format big disks with FAT32, without need for additional software.
Sure, it works with additional software. Back in the day, you needed to install a driver, to be able to use your mouse in Windows.

message edited by Looge


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#15
April 1, 2020 at 00:46:12
Found out some things:
You can convert disks to another file-system. I don't know about DiskMgmt, but you sure can in Minitool. This would let you change from NTFS to FAT32. I haven't tried that, and the thing is: can you do that with 32G+ partitions/disks ?

There still is a tool called CONVERT.exe, but this one only converts towards NTFS.

I read some things on the net, and it was saying that in older versions of that same tool, you could also convert to FAT32.
And, in older versions of FORMAT.com, you could format a FAT32 disk with more than 32G.
But I don't know how old that would be, maybe even up to DOS.

edit: The 95, 98 and ME versions of format.com didn't have an NTFS option. So, that means they would only format FAT32. So, go figure what the biggest disk is you'd want to format, back then.
edit 2: info on the net states you can run a 127GB bootable disk, running Windows 98 and FAT32. When they run the format.com there (in DOS), it displays an incorrect size, but it can actually format a 128+ GB drive. CHKDSK reports the corrct size. Thus, it can do something the format.com in Windows 10 can't do ... But, then the limit is around 128G. In Windows then, all seems OK as the disk has the correct - big -size. Once more it seems: there's no issue running big FAT32 drives in any Windows, it's just and only the formatting that is crippled, purposely.

message edited by Looge


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#16
April 1, 2020 at 02:42:05
"And, in older versions of FORMAT.com, you could format a FAT32 disk with more than 32G.
But I don't know how old that would be, maybe even up to DOS."

Do you have any idea how much a hard disk of that size would have cost in the days of DOS (or even versions of Windows previous to 2000)? Formatting a 127GB disk wasn't a problem that all but the super-rich would have encountered.


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#17
April 1, 2020 at 04:26:14
Don't know, but it's not relevant in a technical discussion.

What is, is the fact that such a disc was on the market, or not. By your response, it was. Correct ?

It's about 32+ GB disks, not just 128G

message edited by Looge


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#18
April 1, 2020 at 05:10:28
The largest hard disks that I can find from that era are 10GB ones. I do remember disks larger than 32GB becoming available whilst Windows 98 was still current. I also remember that we had to partition them into 32GB (or smaller) partitions - usually a 32GB partion plus an 8 GB partition on a 40GB disk. Before that became a problem we had switched over to Windows 2000 with NTFS file systems.

FAT32 is an ancient technology that has been superseded by exFAT. I don't doubt that there are utilities to produce FAT32 partitions larger than 32GB - I'm just baffled as to why anyone chooses to still use FAT32.


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#19
April 1, 2020 at 07:33:28
That's a good question
I have 5 devices, neither of them running Windows, or at least not a regular Windows, and most of them use FAT32 or FAT

I am 100% certain you can go into any tech shop today, and buy a device that uses FAT32 as its main, and possibly only filesystem.

No ?

I'm not choosing FAT, the industry is.


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#20
April 1, 2020 at 07:49:57
exFAT is nearly 15 years old now, so is supported by most devices. It's a far better choice than FAT32. I'd be very surprised if any devices being sold today support only FAT32.

I suppose if you have devices so old that they only support FAT32 then you are stuck with it; but in that case you should format the memory card in the device, not in Windows. Actually, the cards normally come pre-formatted so you shouldn't need to do it again.


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#21
April 1, 2020 at 08:20:38
So conclusion: exFAT is better (than FAT32), alle devices can use exFAT, but all SD cards up to 32Gb are pre-formatted in FAT32.

Is that correct ?


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#22
April 3, 2020 at 01:04:14
Nobody disagrees, so we should accept the solution then.

Another thing: FAT32 Format (the tool by Ridgecrop) would be able to FAT32 format any drive up to 2TB in size. Given the actual size of SDHC cards, 32GB, 64GB, possibly 128GB and also 256G, we are quite some way to go from 2TB (2048GB). I'm thinking that that limit imposes a 64K Allocation Unit Size to be able to actually reach that maximum volume, but that is a price to pay.

I haven't found how to do the same with internal tools, so I gather they have blocked it off quite nicely. But it suits, as they now how to format any SDHC card of 64GB+ in exFAT. Otherwise, I guess we would still be using FAT32 in 2030. It's good MS has imposed a made up limit of 32GB for FAT32, I think that is the way they decided to kill it. I'm sure some people could see the logic fat: 32, with a limit of ... 32 gigabytes. Makes sense.

message edited by Looge


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