Scott Hanselman

The Duh Files - The file is too large for the destination file system

May 30, 2007 Comment on this post [16] Posted in Musings
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When copying giant (greater than 4 gig) files and Virtual Machines and Video and what-not to your fresh new External Hard Drive you might be greeted with this message, or one like it:

Doh! This hard drive came formatted as FAT32, which doesn't support files larger than 4 gigs. You can either Format the drive, by right clicking the Drive in My Computer and using the Tools tab, or, if you already have a bunch of files on it...

Run an Administrator Console (click the Start Menu, type cmd, then right click on the command prompt and click "Run As Administrator") then run:

C:\Users\Scott>convert h: /fs:ntfs /nosecurity
The type of the file system is FAT32.
Enter current volume label for drive H: My Book
The volume is in use by another process. Chkdsk
might report errors when no corruption is present.
Volume My Book created 1/31/2003 2:23 PM
Volume Serial Number is XXXX-XXXX
Windows is verifying files and folders...
File and folder verification is complete.
Windows has checked the file system and found no problems.
244,136,352 KB total disk space.
128 KB in 4 hidden files.
544 KB in 17 folders.
3,063,072 KB in 63 files.
241,072,576 KB are available.

32,768 bytes in each allocation unit.
7,629,261 total allocation units on disk.
7,533,518 allocation units available on disk.

Determining disk space required for file system conversion...
Total disk space: 244196001 KB
Free space on volume: 241072576 KB
Space required for conversion: 369647 KB
Converting file system
Conversion complete

...and continue your copy, with the crisis averted. Bummer there's no "Convert File System" button in the Tools Property Tab of a Disk Drive.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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May 30, 2007 9:36
The problem with that is: will work only with Windows... not possibile to use the external drive (and share data) with you brand new MacBook Pro :(
May 30, 2007 10:00
Crap! How can I share > 4 Gig files with the Mac?
May 30, 2007 10:31
For your Mac, buy a Lacie Ethernet Disk. Hooks up via USB and obviously Ethernet, and supports a multitude of protocols to talk to Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Defaults to FAT32 internal format but can be reformatted to Ext3 to support large files. Of course Ext3 then limits you to only connect via Ethernet unless you're using Linux.
May 30, 2007 11:29
In Windows XP there is (used to be?) an issue with using convert to convert from FAT32 to NTFS that would cause the cluster size to be set to 512 bytes. Is this no longer the case, or not the case in Vista?
May 30, 2007 15:29
When you try and do the same thing in OS X, copy a > 4 GB file to a FAT 32 drive, you see Finder Error Code -1309. My solution was to format the drive as HFS+ (Mac OS Extended (Journaled) in Disk Utility) , since we were only sharing between Macs using the external drive.

I think the easiest solution is just cut a large drive up and format natively for each OS. OS X can read NTFS though, so if you only need to go that way, you are set. The other option is MacDrive, so that Windows can read/write HFS+. I can't vouch for it though, I have never had the need to use it.
May 30, 2007 17:44
Thanks for the refresher Scott worked great on my thumb drive. I couldn't quite quick format the thing with windows drive manager. For my Mac Interop I have the pc on and share the drive over the network.
May 30, 2007 23:38
On a side note: It's the year two-thousand-effing-seven. Can't someone come up with a file system format, like FAT32, that ALL operating systems can use that doesn't have the limitations of Fat32?!

re:sharing with the Macbook Pro. Would MacFuse help any in this situation?
May 30, 2007 23:40
Oh duh, there are programs that let you mount and read HPFS+ drives. MacDisk says it does. Macdrive 7 has Vista support.
May 31, 2007 5:03
How about this for a messagebox dialog:

"The file is too large for the destination file system, or an error occurred during copy.

Would you like to format the target drive as NTFS?

[_] Don't ask me again

[Yes] [No] "

May 31, 2007 8:23
I had the same exact experience this week with my WD Passport (120GB). It was an open box item and the price was right (30% less than new). After purchasing it, I examined the drive before using it and noticed that someone had attempted to do a backup which appeared to stop at 4GB. I believe this is the reason the drive was returned - they couldn't get a backup to work. I promptly converted it to NTFS and voila... all is well.
June 03, 2007 4:11
Thanks! Worked like a charm!
June 04, 2007 20:51
Is there an issue with using vista to convert a harddrive from FAT32 to NTFS bacause there seemed to be one with Windows XP?
June 15, 2007 4:59
Hey, there's something I'm missing when you say "right click the command prompt and say "run-as administrator" I don't see that option and I've right-clicked all over the place. where exactly do I get that option?
June 23, 2007 20:14
Thanks for the info.

I had the same exact situation and it was nice to find such a quick and well described fix :)
July 06, 2007 2:11
I'm getting the same problem and tried running the command, but I get a message saying the drive is already NTFS - Can someone help me??
July 06, 2007 4:41

thanks so much for your post... I was a bit worried if I would fill half a tarabyte at less than 4 GB per file.

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.