You have a high-capacity USB flash drive plugged into your computer. You try to put files into the flash drive, but you get an error message instead: File Too Large for the destination file system. On the other hand, you can copy smaller files without a hitch. What is the problem?
It’s simple, really. When you encounter such an error, the most probable cause is that your USB flash drive uses the outdated FAT32 file system. A file system essentially dictates how a computer should handle data storage and retrieval in a storage device. FAT32 works just fine in most occasions (which is why it still is widely used in flash drives even to this day), but it’s not designed to handle files with large sizes.
The maximum size for any file that you can fit inside a FAT32 flash drive (or any other drive for that matter) is 4 GB. That means you can forget about copying DVD and Blu-ray images and large file installers. Even a 64GB flash drive that has more than enough free space can’t help. That is, unless you reformat the drive and switch to a newer file system.
Changing a flash drive’s file system is easy via a format. But first, make a backup of your existing flash drive files; you can transfer the files back to the flash drive after reformatting. With the backup secured, open Windows Explorer, right-click on the flash drive and select Format… in the context menu.
In the Format window, click the File System drop-down list and select NTFS. Click the Allocation Unit Size drop-down list and select the default option, which is 4096 bytes. Tick the Quick Format checkbox, type whatever name you want for your flash drive in the Volume Label textbox, and click Start. Confirm by clicking OK.
Because you enabled the Quick Format option, formatting the drive with the new file system doesn’t take long. When the process is done, you should now be able to transfer any file larger than 4 GB into the flash drive.
So maybe you’re curious: why choose NTFS as the new file system? Well, it’s designed by Microsoft to address the problems and limitations of FAT32, which the company also designed. Unlike FAT32, NTFS utilizes a “journal” data structure to keep track of file changes and minimize chances of corruption. NTFS also supports file permissions that allow better security. Granted, NTFS has its own problems and limitations. But when your situation calls for putting large files into your USB flash drive, NTFS wins all the way.