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Which file systems can Android read?

Not all file systems will work with your Android device.

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Image: Google

Quick Answer: FAT32, Ext3, Ext4, exFAT (on newer devices)

Mobile devices running Android are great, but the internal storage space can fill up quickly if you’re a heavy user. That will leave you with a decision: rely on cloud services, or find external storage devices with the file system you need.

Suppose you need external storage because you don’t want to rely on network connectivity. First, ensure your Android device can use the storage you want.

Many phones no longer have microSD card slots, and some don’t work with external USB drives without an OTG adapter.

Even once you get that part right, you might not be able to see your external storage device in your Android File Manager. That’s because Android can’t read some of the file system formats used on external drives.

So, what file system types can Android read?

Short Answer: FAT32, Ext3, Ext4, exFAT (on newer devices)

Android supports the FAT32, Ext3, and Ext4 file system formats. Newer devices can also use exFAT.

To use an external drive larger than 4GB or files larger than 4GB, you can use any except FAT32.

Android can’t run NTFS natively, and it’s a pain to set up. exFAT is your best option for most use cases, as it can be read on Mac and PC systems.

If you’re formatting an SDcard for Android use only, Ext4 should be your choice. It has better performance than

Then you’ll be able to use larger external drives with your Android, helping you keep your precious files and photos safe.

What do you think? Did you know that Android only had certain file systems that it could read? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at

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