Restriction on file transfer size to external hard drive?

By aznn3rd ยท 12 replies
Nov 19, 2008
  1. Over the weekend, I tried transferring a 6GB iso to two different external hard drives, but each time the error was that the file was too large, even though there were over 100GB of free space left on either hard drive. Do you guys know what the problem could be?
  2. DaMak420

    DaMak420 TS Rookie Posts: 189

    It is likely a Fat32 file system....... I believe the limit is 1 byte short of 4 gigs

    I dont remmy if there is a limit for NTFS or not, but that is probably the issue.
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +990

    correct, and NFTS has no practical limit on the file other than
    file size < partition size
  4. aznn3rd

    aznn3rd TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 112

    I'm pretty confused. Can you guys explain how FAT and NFTS works and how I can apply that to fixing my problem?

  5. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    Your external hard drive is formatted as Fat32 as are many externals. In order to save files over 4gb you will have to re-format the drive. Go to My computer and right click on the drive and choose format. Save your data first of course. Re-format as NTFS. The only problem is that when you do NTFS on a removable drive you will have to go through the whole unplug thing via the tray icon. In other words you must stop the device before unplugging. With Fat32 you unplug and plug at will. In fact you might have to disable quick remove to format NTFS.

    Check this for more info

    If you want to keep fat32 and save your 6gb file you will have to split it up with winrar or something similar or extract the iso and save it as separate files.
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    You don't have to backup and format to get it NTFS, you can just type this:
    convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs

  7. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    Are you sure that will work with removable USB drives, I don't think so. You are talking about regular fixed hard drives.
  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    ummm...let's think about this.....

    your removable USB drive.... does it have a file system on it?

    It must or Windows couldn't read it.

    So why would you think removable USB drive is any different when converting file systems?
  9. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    I guess he'll just have try it huh?
  10. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    Just re-read in more detail your earlier post. I think you're mixing up different issues

    1. Write caching.
    You can get better disk performance if you enable write caching for a disk drive. This means Windows caches several disk writes together in cache before it physically writes it all to the drive. If you set a drive for no caching Windows will perform each write to the drive as they are issued. one-at-a-time

    2. Write caching can give better performance.. but can also give headaches
    Problem with write caching is if Windows crashes or you unplug a USB drive there are several writes that never make it to disk. This can cause file and file system corruption depending on what it was not getting written.

    3. Stopping a USB device for removal
    Stopping the device before removal mainly applies when write caching is set. in that case, windows will write all cache to disk before stopping the device. Is far less likely to cause problems if windows is applying writes one-at-a-time as they occur.

    4. This is an issue for both NTFS and FAT32. Maybe a bit more so for NTFS
    Because NTFS tends to do more writes to the disk. So greater chance of problems if things get interrupted

    Control your options be selecting a disk drive in device manager, rt click Properties, click Policies. Set the options. Also see this.
  11. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +990

    never never never unplug without stopping the device -- unless you like to reformat it
    due to partition corruption.
  12. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    Somebody needs to re-read.. I am not the one with the problem I am only offering suggestions which may or may not be helpful. The original poster is aznn3rd and since we have not heard from him we may all be wasting our time.;
  13. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    Whats with your attitude in this thread?

    Why would it not work? It should work.
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