Why Did Microsoft Drop Formatting FAT32 for 64GB and Above?
Microsoft has not made an official announcement on why the option to format FAT32 is no longer available for devices 64GB in capacity and above.
In both Windows 10 and Windows 11 the format option given by Windows is either NTFS (New Technology File System) or exFAT (Extended File System). The option to format FAT32 is no long available in Windows.
Without an official announcement from Microsoft we can only speculate the reason is do to single file sizes averaging a larger size as of 2023.
The largest single file size supported by the FAT32 file system is 4GB. This is due to the limitations of the file system’s design. FAT32 uses a 32-bit file allocation table, which means it can address up to 4,294,967,295 clusters. Since each cluster in FAT32 is typically 4KB in size, the maximum file size is limited to 4GB (4,294,967,295 clusters multiplied by 4KB per cluster).
If you need to store files larger than 4GB, you will need to use a different file system that supports larger file sizes, such as NTFS (New Technology File System), exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table), or others. NTFS, in particular, is commonly used in modern Windows operating systems and supports much larger file sizes, making it suitable for storing large files and operating system installations.
We speculate, to reduce customer inquiries or complaints to Microsoft they have eliminated the option of FAT32 to any device of 64GBs or larger in capacity. The reason is that a user will receive an error message from the device when an attempt to copy a single file of 4GBs or larger to a FAT32 device. To reduce the frequency of error messages, by formatting the device as exFAT will eliminate this error.
The ExFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) file system supports significantly larger file sizes compared to FAT32. The maximum file size supported by ExFAT is a staggering 16 exabytes (EB), which is equivalent to 16 million terabytes (TB) or 16 billion gigabytes (GB). This vast file size limit allows for storing extremely large files, such as high-resolution videos, large databases, or disk images.
ExFAT was specifically designed to overcome the limitations of FAT32, including the maximum file size restriction. It is commonly used in various devices and operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and some embedded systems, for handling large files and providing interoperability between different platforms.
It’s important to note that while ExFAT supports large file sizes, the actual maximum file size might be limited by the specific implementation or the capabilities of the storage medium itself.
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