6 Fixes For “File is too large for the destination file system” Error

Have you ever faced this problem where you can’t upload a file to your USB drive or SD card, even when there is sufficient storage available on it? I just got myself out of it. It can be pretty annoying when you think you can transfer the files and aren’t able to do it. Un-annoy yourself because we have your back!

What does the “File is too large for the destination file system” error mean?

To understand what this error is, we have to know what the Windows File system is. 

The File System is the layout or method that the Windows Operating System (OS) uses to label and arrange different formats of files on the computer. This term may also be used to address the partitions made in the hard disk. 

Maxell 16 GB USB flash drive

When you try uploading a file onto a storage unit, like a hard drive or USB flash drive, and see the “File is too large for the destination file system” error message, it means that the file was not uploaded to the drives you want because the file system did not accommodate the uploading of a certain file or a group of files. This is an issue that cannot be gotten through with repetition. No amount of retrying to upload the file.

"The file is too large for the destination file system" error message

Before we look for solutions to this issue, we need to understand the different kinds of file systems. Windows uses four file system formats – exFAT, FAT, FAT32, and NTFS.

FAT

FAT or FAT16 is the most basic Windows file system. It is not as competent as the higher variants of the file system. The FAT format allows only file sizes lesser than 2 GB to be uploaded.

FAT32

FAT32 is compatible with many platforms and is perfect for a hard disk with lesser storage capacity. The maximum size of a single file supported by the FAT32 is 4 GB.

exFAT

exFAT or FAT64 is a relatively modern file system. Though this can be used on most storage systems, it is best designed for flash memory. The only drawback of this file system is that it isn’t compatible with many platforms. 

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NTFS

NTFS is the most common file system as it is compatible with almost every OS. This works great for hard disks with large storage capacities, as large as 16 TB. 

File system type in the Drive partition properties dialog box

Steps to fix the “File is too large for the destination file system”

These are the different steps to enable your computer to upload the file when you see the “File is too large for the destination file system”.

  1. Change the FAT32 format to NTFS
  2. Format the Storage unit
  3. Use the ReFS (Windows Resilient File System)
  4. Compress the files
  5. Split the files
  6. Try using a different storage

Fixing the “File is too large for the destination file system”

These are the steps to fix the “File is too large for the destination file system” on a Windows 10 computer. Before we start making changes in the file system configuration, you need to understand the risks of using the first three solutions to this issue. You might lose some files that you wanted to transfer to a different storage device. 

Change the FAT32 format to NTFS

We know that the FAT32 can send and receive only 4 GB files or smaller ones. This can be upgraded to a different file system format, preferably the NTFS or the exFAT formats. This will upgrade the file size limit from 4 GB to 16 TB, which is larger than most storage capacities. 

Western Digital Black internal hard disk

These are your steps to convert FAT32 to NTFS. Proceed with them, if you are willing to risk data loss. 

  1. Open the Command Prompt tool by searching for it, in the search bar or the run tool (Windows + R keys) with the cmd command.
Search result for cmd
  1. Enter the following command in the script window and execute it by hitting the Enter key. 

convert “ FAT32 partition drive letter”:/fs:ntfs

CMD script for converting FAT32 to NTFS
  1. You might also be asked to type in the volume label for the process to finish this operation. 

Try transferring the files. If the transfer takes place, it means that the conversion of the FAT32 file system to NTFS file system was successful. 

Format the storage unit

Formatting the device is not a recommended method as you can lose everything that is located on the storage drive. But this can fix the destination file system issue for you, as it will change the Windows OS file system to one of your choices. 

These are your steps to format a USB storage device to different file systems.

  1. Insert the USB device and open the This PC window.
This PC window on Windows 10
  1. Right-click on the USB flash drive partition and select the Format option. The Format device dialog box will appear on your screen. 
Format option for removable USB flash drive
  1. Draw the File system drop-down menu and select NTFS or exFAT
Format USB drive dialog box
  1. Click on the Start button to begin the process. 
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This process should take a few seconds or a little longer, depending on the capacity of the device, to complete. But you will lose everything that was on the USB flash drive or hard drive. Make sure to make backups, if you need the files in the drive.

Use the ReFS (Windows Resilient File System)

The Microsoft Resilient File System (ReFS) was designed to accommodate the file systems and provide efficient storage systems, irrespective of the file size or type. You use this to work with documents, folders, images, video files, and many more. Other main functions of this tool are to integrate the storage spaces on the computer and remove corrupt files. 

This feature can be used to fix the “File is too large for the destination system” error by creating virtual hard drives using the ReFS feature. 

We have not provided the steps for this procedure, since we found it complicated and it almost put us at risk of data loss. This may not have worked for us but it could be the solution, in your case. We do not want to mislead you with information that could cause a negative impact on the computer. You can check with the Microsoft site for more information on this. 

Compress the files

This is a different approach towards fixing the “File is too large for the destination file system” error. We tried modifying where the file goes and if this did not work, we’ll now try to make changes in the file itself. Compressing the file will reduce the file size and you will be able to upload a compressed file onto a USB drive, even without any changes in the FAT32 file system or any other ones.

These are the steps to compress a file to reduce the file size. 

  1. You need a compression tool like 7-Zip or WinRAR to reduce the file size. You can download them from the respective websites. 
  2. Once you have finished, downloading and installing one of these tools, locate the file that is too large for the destination. 
  3. Right-click on the file and choose Add to archive
Add to archive option through WinRAR tool in a random folder's context menu
  1. In the Archive names and parameters dialog box, name the archive.
Archive name section and the name bar in it
  1. Choose a file size or type in a file size from the Split to Volumes, size drop-down menu.
Split to volumes, size drop-down menu with the preset volume sizes
  1. Click on the OK button to start the compression and splitting process.

This process should take quite some time, depending on the size of the files or folder. 

Archived folder, that has to be sent to the storage drive

You can either transfer the archive or the folder extracted from the archive to the USB drive. 

Split the files

If you are transferring a folder or multiple files at the same time, you might need the NTFS file system for this or the FAT32 file system if they are smaller. You can try uploading the contents of the folder or the files one by one and not as a group, which cumulatively gives a larger size. Since one file is smaller than the entire folder or set of files put together, click on the file and drag them to the destination USB flash drive to upload it. 

Dragging a folder and placing on the destination location

This is a simple workaround for the “File size is too large for the destination file system” issue.

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Try using a different storage

The last solution to the “File is too large for the destination file system” issue on your computer is to use a different storage device. Bigger storage with a newer USB model might let you transfer the files without any trouble. It is also recommended to format the device before you use it.

USB flash drives made by different brands, including ASUS ROG, Kingston, Verbatim and more

If all of these steps do not work, try transferring them with the help of a cloud storage over the internet.  

The above are the different methods you can use to transfer a file from a source to a destination file system. If you face further trouble, take your problems to a professional who can take a look inside the USB port hardware. Happy file transferring!

FAQs

How do you resolve the file is too large for the destination file system?

To fix the “File is too large for the destination file system” error on your computer, use these methods – 
Change FAT32 partition to NTFS
Format the hard drive or USB flash drive
Compress the files
Upload them individually
Use a different storage device
There is also the ReFS feature that can be used to make this work, by creating virtual drives to sort this issue out. 

How do I fix file too large for the destination file system without formatting?

If you do not want to format your hard drive, SD card, or USB drive to fix the “File too large for destination file system” error, you can convert FAT32 to NTFS file system, compress the files and upload them, transfer them one by one or try this with a different storage device. 

Why does my USB say the file is too large?

When your USB drive shows the “File too large for destination file system”, it means that the file system is not large enough to receive files that are bigger than 2 GB (FAT), 4 GB (FAT32), or 16TB (NTFS). You can format the device or convert the default FAT32 file system to NTFS.  

How can I change FAT32 to NTFS without formatting?

You can use the command prompt tool to change FAT32 to NTFS without having to format the device and lose all the data stored on it. Execute this command to convert the FAT32 to NTFS file system on your device: convert “ FAT32 partition drive letter”:/fs:ntfs