My 256GB flash drive is now a 32GB flash drive

I recently received an error message asking me to reformat the drive when installing it into one of my Windows 10 laptop USB ports; the thing is it was working fine minutes prior to this error message and has been since I purchased the drive approximately 6 to 8 months ago.

I mainly use the drive to transfer images between two machines, my current Win 10 and an old Win XP which is no longer on my home network and has had its wi-fi disabled. I do this because I have old editing software on the XP and to update the new Win 10 is a bit cost-prohibitive at the moment.

My hope is that there’s a way I can reformat the drive and return it to its original 256GB capacity and I’m hoping there’s someone in this forum that can help me do just that.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


What does the USB drive look like in Windows’ Disk management?

As for editing images I use Windows’ Paint and the free IrfanView 64-bit app.

Thank You, ed_p

So, it’s partially there just not part of the primary partition, very clever illusion.

32.00 GB FAT32 (Primary Partition)
201.25 GB (Unallocated)

I used DiskPart to reclaim the unallocated space but it only gave me 233.25 GB, not the full 256 GB I originally had. I see that the numbers add up to that amount but I’m not sure why since my original had 256 GB.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to get the 233.25 GB back but I’m still missing 22.75 GB; can that still be retrieved, or should I consider myself lucky and move on?


When you reclaimed the unallocated space did you try to expand the Primary partition to use it? And if so did you change the drive’s format to exFAT cause FAT32 doesn’t support drives larger than 32MB.

The next consideration is does Windows XP support exFAT. If not you may be limited to using the slow NTFS format on it.

Another thing to remember, Windows doesn’t support secondary partitions on removable drives.

Have fun. :slight_smile:

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Yes and Yes. The 32 GB was added to the unallocated 201.25 GB space creating a 233.25 GB but not the original 256 GB, and I did reformat it using the exFAT.

I haven’t tried to use the reformated drive yet, and to be honest, I don’t remember if it was an exFAT prior to my issue; I’ll be finding that out later today.

I’ll do a follow-up post on that, in case anyone else has a similar issue or is interested in knowing if the exFAT works on Win XP




Update One:
Okay, update, as I mentioned above …
The exFAT formatting on my Flash Drive doesn’t work on Win XP, the system keeps asking me if I want to format the drive.

That sucks since I was able to use it before on both my Win XP and Win 10 laptops, I’ll google it and see what comes up.


Update Final:
So, I did a google search and found the following link and it was very helpful:
Chris Tate-Davies BLOG

I make no promises here and must advise that if you go and use the above links you do so at your own risk, just as I did. I’m not endorsing Chris’ BLOG in any way nor am I getting any kickback for this. I simply found the information useful and wish to pass it on in the event that it can help someone else too.


Thank you for the update(s) Elemental. I checked the blog and the XP file is still there!!

A helpful posting Elemental.