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How to fix The file is too large for the destination file system error

Imagine that you’ve bought the USB flash disk with capacity of 16 GB or external hard disk. Sooner or later you’ll need to transfer files larger than 4 GB, whether it comes to ISO files, backup copies of your operating system, movies, personal video files or other; so when this situation happens, while copying or moving your large files to USB flash disk, the following error may occur: The file is too large for the destination file system. In this article we’ll discuss ways to prepare an USB flash disk or external hard disk and seamlessly transfer large files (greater than 4 GB) to your USB flash disk.

Let’s simulate this situation: I inserted my Transcend USB Flash with 16 GB in my computer, with the Windows 8.1 operating system and the operating system assigned H:\ drive letter to my USB disk. I double clicked it and put a file in this disk (Creative Blog logo):

Assign a letter to USB flash drive

On my Desktop, in Transcend folder I have really large file, over 8GB (you can see both Transcend folder and the root folder of my USB disk displayed on the screenshot below), so I dragged that Fil.iso file and dropped it to my USB disk:
Copy a large file on USB stick

… but the file is too large:
The File Is Too Large For Destination File System

The first thing you need to check is the file system of your USB disk, whether it is FAT32, to be precise. Default file system format for my Transcend flash device is FAT32, which lacks support for files larger than 4 GB. To be sure what file system you have, right click on your USB flash disk (or hard disk) and select Properties:
How to check USB file system

There are two ways to fix this:

  • Formatting your USB disk to NTFS file system,
  • Converting FAT32 file system to NTFS without data loss.

How to format USB disk to NTFS file system and avoid file is too large error

If you choose this way it’s mandatory to copy all your files from the USB disk to your PC, because all files on your disk will be deleted. After the format to NTFS is finished, you can copy that files back from PC to USB disk. Follow this procedure to format your disk to NTFS file system: right click on desired disk and select Format:
How to format USB flash drive to NTFS

Select NTFS, Volume label (this is good practice; my label is CREATIVBLOG) is optional and tick Quick Format option (quick format is quite sufficient). When the format finishes, try to transfer large files to your USB disk.
Drive is formatted to NTFS

How to convert FAT32 to NTFS without formatting or losing data on USB disk

Yes, this is possible, too: we’ll use convert command in the command prompt to avoid disk formatting and unnecessary copying files to your computer; this is a simple and time effective way to convert FAT32 to NTFS file system.

Open your command prompt; I always start it via Run dialog box – hold this key combination: Win key + R to open Run dialog box:
Win key + R to enter Run dialog

Enter cmd and confirm with Enter to open the Command Prompt. Enter the convert command in Command Prompt to start the FAT32 to NTFS conversion. It’s important to double check what letter is assigned to your disk (letter H is assigned to my Transcend disk, which I marked with the red rectangle):
Enter convert command in command prompt to convert FAT32 to NTFS

Enter the command as follows: Convert H: /FS:NTFS and press Enter. The conversion process will start:
Command prompt conversion is running

After several minutes the conversion process will finish, and you can now try copying large files to your disk:
Copy Large File To Your USB Drive

This command is supported on Windows XP operating system and above.

Further info regarding FAT32 limitations:

How to fix
Article Name
How to fix
While transfering large files to USB flash disk, the following error may occur: The file is too large for the destination file system. Here is a fix.