How to Format Hard Drive to FAT32

By Matt Hughes

FAT32 is a file formatting system and was introduced by Microsoft with Windows 98. It has since been replaced by the more robust NTFS in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. However, FAT32 still serves a valuable purpose. Hard drives formatted in FAT32 can be used on both a Windows computer and a Macintosh, so hard drives can be formatted to work on the two different computer platforms.

Step 1

Connect your hard drive. If it is an external hard drive, plug it in. If it is an internal hard drive, follow the directions that came with drive and install it in your computer.

Step 2

Click "Start" and select "Control Panel."

Step 3

Click "System and Security" and select "Administrative Tools."

Step 4

Double-click "Computer Management."

Step 5

Select "Disk Management' in the left side panel under Storage.

Step 6

Note the drive letter associated with the hard drive you wish to format.

Step 7

Click "Start," type "cmd" (without quotes) in the Search field at the bottom of the menu and press "Enter" to open a command prompt.

Step 8

If you are formatting an external drive with a drive letter of "E," type "format e: /FS:FAT32" (without the quotes) and press "Enter." Drive letter "E" can be replaced by any drive letter associated to the drive you are formatting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Formatting a hard drive will erase all data on that drive. Make sure there is nothing important that you wish to keep.