Tech: How to format a 1Tb drive to FAT32 on Windows 7 for use on PC & Mac

A very techy article for my blog but I needed to share after much research and scratching my head…

Background: I run my photography Lightoom 2 catalogue from an external WD Passport 500GB drive as I have Lightroom installed on both my PC laptop and my iMac.. so by having my full Lightroom catalogue on both machines (which works well by the way) I can access it all when on the road or back in the studio… without having to worry about duplicate lightroom catalogs, or merging them together. An easy solution.

Problem: I use Windows 7 on my PC laptop, and have just recently bought a WD Passport 1Tb drive (Arrived formatted to NTFS) to replace my overflowing 500Gb drive, but the problem was that Windows 7, by default only lets you format a drive in exFAT32, which (as far as I am aware) is not supported by Apple Mac machines…

So, I searched around the internet looking for solutions, and the most common suggestion to help with Windows 7 format fat32 was to try the command line way, which supposedly worked for some people – I tried it however, and it toook my laptop a whopping 12hrs to format the drive, and when the counter flicked over to 100%, it errored with the message “Drive size too big for FAT32″.

Great, thanks for the 12hr waste of time. So I don’t recommend the 12hr command line way. After talking to a friend about it later the day he found a link to the Verbatim website, which documented the problems and suggested solution, which was to download the software for Verbatim drives (which mine was not) and format the drive from there.

Solution: After downloading the software from Verbatim, installing the small program, selecting the drive to format – it then formatted the drive to FAT32 in a matter of minutes, which seemed to work. So there you go, don’t wait 12hrs of you want to format a 1 terabyte (1TB) external WD Passport drive, when a little bit of software will allow you to do it in 3 minutes.

Don’t forget if you want to you can actually format to FAT32 on your mac, but I needed to find a workaround at the time as I was out of the office with my PC laptop… formatting on the mac is probably the easiest option if you have one to hand. Here comes the long task of copying 500Gb of data onto the new drive, see you in a few days! Windows 7 format fat32 solved.

Buy it: If you would like to have a look at this 1TB drive on Amazon please click here.

Update 7/1/11 Verbatim changed the link, but thanks for a helpful commenter Eric – we have a new link that seems to work – glad you’re finding a use for this post!

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86 thoughts on “Tech: How to format a 1Tb drive to FAT32 on Windows 7 for use on PC & Mac

  1. Love all of you right now! tried for ages and couldnt make it work and then 2 minutes with the program and its done! thanks for all the re-updated links too!

  2. I went one by one down the Google search results trying everything people said. This was the 13th thing on the list and the only one that worked. Thank you so much!

  3. Best Recommendation I have ever received on Internet after the release of Windows 7. Thanks man keep it up. Your efforts are really really helpful. I finally got my hard disk formatted

  4. I always use a utility called FAT32FORMAT.EXE, which is a free download from a lot of sites (try google), formats a 100gb drive in 3 secs, you do need to use DOS prompt/Command Window to run it tho.

  5. Thank you! It worked perfectly and took no more than 30 seconds to format 1TB. The only hang up at all was I could not find the utility with either of the posted links. So a big thanks to JDubb for posting the d/load link. Much appreciated!

  6. Superb. Thank you for this link and thanks to Verbatim for the software. I have been having a huge problem with a couple of 1TB extarnals which needed to be FAT32. After running the 12 hr Windows comand line solution only to be told of the failure this is an impressive solution.

  7. ****Fantastic, after leaving it whirring away for over 12 hours to be faced with the dreaded message too big to format, i used this link and literally could not believe my 1tb had been formatted in less than a minute. A BIG THANK YOU.

  8. The Verbatim software doesn’t seem to be available now. The Minitool link, however, formatted the WD drive in around 10 seconds

  9. Hey guys, just wondering if i run this, will i lose all my current data on my WD 1TB Hard Drive?

  10. I’ve been looking everywhere for a fix like this, and after reading your instructions and comments, I downloaded the Verbatim utility onto my Win 7 laptop. It formatted like a breeze, but my laptop does not recognize the drive, will not give me access to it, and I get a little window that says I have to format the drive. DRAT.

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