Format a hard drive to ExFAT in Windows

Formatting a disk implies all data on the drive is lost–be careful!

Note that the system hard drive for Windows OS can ONLY be NTFS. ExFAT gives you faster (by up to several percent) hard drive write speed, and allows your hard drive to easily be read on Linux, Mac, Android, etc. Windows Subsytem for Linux can also read ExFAT drives.

Windows 10/8/7: ExFAT format drives

  1. right-click on a drive in Windows Explorer
  2. select “format”
  3. select “ExFAT”
Windows format drive ExFAT selection
Choice to format drive ExFAT in Windows.

Windows XP: ExFAT format drives

In older Windows versions, Windows Explorer based format doesn’t always give the option to format EXFAT.


New empty hard drive not showing in Windows Explorer

Perhaps your new hard drive is unformatted. If you are SURE it is empty or you want to erase the contents to make it ExFAT, you can do this through the GUI or Command Prompt.

GUI hard format hard drive to ExFAT

  1. Control Panel > Computer Management > Disk Management
  2. right click the new drive, and click Format (NTFS may be the only option, that’s OK).

Command Prompt hard format hard drive to ExFAT

format driveletter /FS:exFAT /Q

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