Format a hard drive to ExFAT in Windows

I use ExFAT for all my data-storing hard drives. ExFAT is faster than NTFS by up to several percent hard drive write speed. ExFAT allows your hard drive to easily be read on Linux, Mac, Android, etc. Windows Subsystem for Linux can read ExFAT drives.

Here are three ways to format a drive to ExFAT in Windows (pick one of the three ways).

Windows Explorer

Format a drive to ExFAT from Windows Explorer by:

  1. right-click on drive to format
  2. format → File System: ExFAT

Format ExFAT

Hard drive missing 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 Administrative Tools or Command Prompt.

Administrative Tools

Format a drive to ExFAT from Administrative Tools by:

  1. Control Panel → Computer Management → Disk Management
  2. right click the new drive → Format
    • If NTFS is the only option, use Windows Explorer to format to ExFAT after first formatting to NTFS here.

Command Prompt

Format a drive to ExFAT from Command Prompt by:

format driveletter /FS:exFAT /Q


  • Formatting a disk deletes all data on the drive.
  • System hard drive C:\ for Windows OS MUST be NTFS.