Error: File ‘is too large for the destination file system’ – but there is tons of room!

Error: File ‘is too large for the destination file system’ – but there is tons of room!

Fun fun.  I was trying to copy 6gb iso file to my 8gb flash drive (where 7gb was free) and I kept getting an error message that the file ‘is too large for the destination file system’.  I didn’t have time to fiddle with it – so I left it.  Yesterday during a backup, I got the same message again trying to back up my Windows Media Center recorded tv shows.  The 1tb drive was empty, yet I kept getting errors about not having enough disk space.  Ok, what’s going on?

USB drives and external HD’s are often formatted with FAT32.  You cannot copy a file larger than 4gb to a FAT32 system.  Unfortunately, Vista gives you the cryptic file is too large for the destination file system error instead of telling you the real reason is that FAT32 cannot handle files that big and what to do to fix it.

So, how to get around it?  You need to convert the file system to NTFS (or other file system that can handle files that big).  You can obviously reformat the drive,  but that’s a pain if you have data on the drive already.  You can, however, do a one-way convert to NTFS without data loss on the drive by using the command:

convert X: /fs:ntfs /nosecurity

Where X: is the drive letter you want to convert.  As long as you have about 10-15% of the volume empty, and you don’t have any files on that drive open, the file system conversion will happen and all your files will be there as before.  It’s a fairly quick process – about a minute or two on my external 1tb drive (drive was almost empty).  So, a very poor Vista error that doesn’t tell you how to fix it, but a very smart tool that does what you need.

25 thoughts on “Error: File ‘is too large for the destination file system’ – but there is tons of room!

  1. Hey Matt, thanks a lot! I was wondering why my file can not be copied to my pen drive. You are right that it needs NTFS for big file. 🙂

  2. Really thanks man!
    i tried to copy a movie to my usb flash drive but i keep getting that stupid error, thanks to you, it’s fixed!

  3. Worked great for 1 thumb drive, ran into problems with the other one. Trying again, hoping it will work. Either way, thank you for the tip!!!

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