Article ID: 314463 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q314463
For a Microsoft Windows 2000 version of this article, see 184006.
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Summary

This article discusses the limitations of the FAT32 file system in Windows XP.

More information

Note the following limitations when you use the FAT32 file system with Windows XP:
  • Clusters cannot be 64 kilobytes (KB) or larger. If clusters are 64 KB or larger, some programs (such as Setup programs) may incorrectly calculate disk space.
  • A FAT32 volume must contain a minimum of 65,527 clusters. You cannot increase the cluster size on a volume that uses the FAT32 file system so that it contains fewer than 65,527 clusters.
  • The maximum disk size is approximately 8 terabytes when you take into account the following variables: The maximum possible number of clusters on a FAT32 volume is 268,435,445, and there is a maximum of 32 KB per cluster, along with the space required for the file allocation table (FAT).
  • You cannot decrease the cluster size on a FAT32 volume so that the size of the FAT is larger than 16 megabytes (MB) minus 64 KB.
  • You cannot format a volume larger than 32 gigabytes (GB) in size using the FAT32 file system during the Windows XP installation process. Windows XP can mount and support FAT32 volumes larger than 32 GB (subject to the other limits), but you cannot create a FAT32 volume larger than 32 GB by using the Format tool during Setup. If you need to format a volume that is larger than 32 GB, use the NTFS file system to format it. Another option is to start from a Microsoft Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me) Startup disk and use the Format tool included on the disk.

    For additional information about how to use a Microsoft Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me) Startup disk to format a hard disk, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    255867 How to Use Fdisk and Format to Partition/Repartition a Hard Disk
    NOTE: When you attempt to format a FAT32 partition that is larger than 32 GB during the Windows XP installation process, the format operation fails near the end of the process, and you may receive the following error message:
    Logical Disk Manager: Volume size too big.
  • MS-DOS, the original version of Microsoft Windows 95, and Microsoft Windows NT 4.0-and-earlier do not recognize FAT32 partitions, and are unable to start from a FAT32 volume.
  • You cannot create a file larger than (2^32)-1 bytes (this is one byte less than 4 GB) on a FAT32 partition.
For additional information about the FAT32 file system, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
310525 Description of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP
For additional information about how to convert a FAT32 volume to NTFS, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
307881 HOW TO: Convert a FAT16 or FAT32 Volume to NTFS

Properties

Article ID: 314463 - Last Review: May 22, 2013 - Revision: 2.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
Keywords: 
kberrmsg kbinfo kbusage KB314463

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