FAT32 File Recovery | How to Recover Data from FAT32 Drives?

Looking for effective methods of FAT32 file recovery? This article presents the best techniques to recover data from FAT32 drives. Stay tuned and read on!


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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How do I recover deleted files from FAT file system?




I'm having a problem recovering the files from my USB drive. Errors came up, and I clicked the window to fix it a few times, and it worked, but now I can't access anything.


- Question from Tom’s Hardware


Experiencing data loss can be an incredibly frustrating situation. When it comes to recovering lost data, understanding the file system you are using is crucial. This article aims to assist you in the process of retrieving files from your FAT32 file system.


What is a FAT32 format?

FAT32, developed by Microsoft, is an older file system that derives its name from the acronym "File Allocation Table" and is based on the bit size utilized. While several versions of the FAT system exist, including FAT8, FAT12, and FAT16, the most prevalent one is FAT32.

Although the older iterations of FAT are now obsolete, FAT32 is still widely employed in USB flash drives, SD cards, and occasionally in hard drives.

Another frequently used file system for storage devices is NTFS, which is more used on HDD/SSD. Let’s check the differences between these two file systems for a better understanding.

FAT32 vs. NTFS

Comparison between FAT32 and NTFS in various aspects.

Maximum File Name Length 8.3 Characters 255 Characters
Maximum File Size 4GB 16TB
Maximum Volume Size 2TB 256TB
Journaling No Yes
Fault Tolerance Keep 2 copies of FAT Auto Repair
Compression No Yes
Conversion Possible Not Allowed
Compatibility Win 95/98/2K/2k3/XP Win NT/2K/XP/Vista/7

Before starting the FAT32 file recovery process, it will be helpful to understand the reasons behind data loss on FAT32 devices.


Why do your files get lost from the FAT32 file system

Checking these causes can help you prevent such occurrences:

  • Partition deletion/formatting. The most common cause of data loss on FAT32 or any other file system is accidental formatting of the drive or partition.
  • File system corruption. Data loss can also occur if a partition with the FAT32 file system becomes corrupt.
  • Virus attack. Virus intrusion can corrupt the file system and render your hard drive faulty.
  • Physical damage. Power failures or abrupt removal can lead to corruption in the file/file system/partition table.

Also, it is essential to note that FAT32 is not more susceptible to data loss than other file systems. Therefore, it is always prudent to be prepared for situations that may cause file loss by creating disk backup for FAT 32 disks.

How to achieve FAT32 file recovery efficiently?

When a file is deleted in the FAT32 file system, it is removed from the FAT table, but the data remains intact until another file overwrites the clusters.

Therefore, it is possible to recover deleted data using FAT32/exFAT SD card recovery software before the storage space is reused.

While numerous recovery tools are available online, we highly recommend using MyRecover due to its impressive performance after extensive testing.

This powerful recovery software has been meticulously designed to cater to your needs, offering a seamless and reliable solution.

Efficient. MyRecover boasts support for over 200 recoverable data types, including images, videos, audio, documents, compressed files, and more. 
Comprehensive. MyRecover covers a wide range of data loss scenarios, such as accidental deletion, disk formatting, virus attacks, emptying the Recycle Bin, and system crashes. 
User-friendly. MyRecover's user-friendly interface ensures that even beginners can navigate the data recovery process with ease. 
Versatile. MyRecover seamlessly works with various storage devices, including SD cards, HDDs, SSDs, USB flash drives, and more, on multiple Windows versions, such as Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and Server. 
Secure. Your data's security is paramount to MyRecover. It safeguards your files, prioritizing confidentiality and protection throughout the recovery process.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to recover lost and deleted files from FAT32 drives using MyRecover for Windows:

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
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Step 1. Connect the FAT32 device (e.g., SD card or USB) to your Windows PC > install and launch MyRecover > Hover the mouse over the drive, and click Scan.


Step 2. MyRecover will automatically scan your selected SD card and search for all recoverable files.


Step 3. Preview and choose the desired files under the "Other Missing Files" folder. Click on the "Recover x files" button.


E.g., choose “Photos”; then you can recover accidentally deleted photos from SD cards using FAT32 and other file systems.

After recovering files from your SD card, it is advisable to store them in a different location instead of the original card. 
If you only need to recover files from your SD card within 500MB, you won't incur any costs, as MyRecover allows users to recover up to 500MB of data for free. 
If you require the recovery of many deleted files from SD cards or other local hard drives, upgrading to the paid version of MyRecover may be more cost-effective.

How to fix the corrupted FAT32 file system?

Besides checking the methods to recover data from SD cards using FAT32 file system, sometimes users also meet FAT32 file system corruption. Don’t worry; this section can help you fix the problems within the file system.

Method 1: Fix it using the CHKDSK command

The CHKDSK command in Windows allows for detecting and repairing file system errors. If the FAT32 file system gets corrupted, the drive will show as RAW, and you will need this command to perform RAW SD card recovery.


If CHKDSK is not working or showing some errors, check the tutorial to fix it.

Step 1. Connect the device with the FAT32 file system to your computer.

Step 2. Type "cmd" in the Windows search bar. Select the "Run as Administrator" option.


Step 3. In the command prompt window, type "chkdsk" followed by the drive letter associated with the FAT32 file system, a colon, and "/f" (e.g., chkdsk h:/f, where "h" represents the drive letter).


Once the command is entered and executed, Windows will take several minutes to verify the integrity of your FAT32 file system.

If the system reports that corrections have been made to the file system, you have successfully repaired the FAT32 file system and recovered your data.

If you want to convert RAW to FAT32, you might need to format it and create a new file system.

Method 2: Perform a System Restore

System Restore is a Windows feature that enables you to restore computer to an earlier date; thus, you can revert your file system to a previously saved point in time. To utilize System Restore, follow these steps:

Step 1. Input "Create a restore point" in the Windows Search box. Choose this app and start it.

Step 2. Click on "System Restore".

Step 3. In the System Restore dialog box, choose a point created before the issue occurred, and click "Next".


Step 4. Click "Finish". The computer will reboot, and the system files & settings will be restored to the state they were in when the restore point was created.


Tips: If you wish to avoid the hassle of reinstalling recently installed programs, you can click on "Scan for affected programs" to identify the programs that will be uninstalled during the process and back up any necessary files.


Although the FAT32 file format has become less prevalent in recent years, it is still widely used in numerous computers for their hard drives. Fortunately, FAT32 file recovery is not impossible.

Leading data recovery applications like MyRecover typically support legacy file formats effectively, enabling you to restore your deleted files. Following the instructions outlined above, you can retrieve your essential files quickly.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.