When you transfer a file to your flash drive or USB on Windows, you may get an error message saying “the file is too large for the destination file system.” However, you’ve checked the USB capacity, and there is plenty of space left. So why is the file too big for USB but it’s not? To find out the answer, you must know the USB format types and the corresponding file size limit. Follow this article to learn more about why such error occurs and the fixes to the “file too large for USB/flash drive” issue.

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Michelle Michelle | Feb 21, 2023

What Causes “File Too Large for Destination File System”?

“I'm trying to transfer a file from my computer to my external hard drive. The file is about 4GB. I still have 238 GB free of the 465 GB, so it’s not strictly a matter of space. But it kept saying the file is too large for the destination file system. Why is this happening?”

The most common reason for “USB says file is too large but it’s not” is that your USB is formatted with the FAT32 file system, a disk format that supports a maximum file size of 4GB for a single file. So if your file is about or over 4GB, you cannot transfer it to your USB even if there’s enough free space.

How to check if your flash drive is FAT32 formatted:
Plug your USB flash drive into a Windows PC. Then the File Explorer, right-click on your disk drive and select the Properties option. It will show you the file system the selected drive is using.

A file system is a structure to organize data stored on a disk drive. Besides FAT32, there are exFAT and NTFS file systems. And compared with FAT32, exFAT and NTFS support much larger file size. Therefore, you can try reformatting FAT32 into NFTS or exFAT to overcome the FAT32 4GB file size limit. However, keep in mind that exFAT and NTFS are compatible with fewer devices than FAT32. If your device supports FAT32 only, you will need to compress or split the files into small files to put them on a FAT32 device. (check the three file systems supported devices) In the following, you’ll learn more about how to fix “file too large for destination file system”. Please read on.

Fix Video File Too Large for USB

Video file size too large for your USB flash drive? No worries. WonderFox Free HD Video Converter Factory presents an easy way to reduce the file size of your video from GB to MB so you can bypass the FAT32 4GB size limit. Meanwhile, it can efficiently compress video files with high quality preserved. All videos are supported without size limit or watermark. Download this free video compressor to have a try now!

How to Fix File Too Large for USB/Flash Drive?

Method 1. Change File System to NTFS or exFAT

As mentioned, NTFS and exFAT can hold large files over 4 GB. You can change your drive file system into one of them to fix the “file too large” problem. And if you are to work your file on Windows systems later, you are recommended to convert FAT32 to NTFS.

On Windows, there are two ways to convert FAT32 to NTFS with or without formatting. But before using any of the solutions, please back up data in advance in case of any data loss (IMPORTANT).

1. Change FAT32 to NTFS using CMD (no data loss; cannot reverse conversion)

Step 1. Type in “CMD” in your Windows search bar. Right-click Command Prompt and run it as administrator.

Step 2. In the Command Prompt, type convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs. Then press Enter.

Note: The drive letter means the drive letter your drive. For example, if you want to convert your D drive to NTFS, you can type convert D: /fs:ntfs.


2. Reformat FAT32 into NTFS (risk of data loss)

Step 1. Right-click on your FAT32 disk drive and select the Format option.

Step 2. Open the File system drop-down box and select the NTFS option.

Step 3. Click Start. Your flash drive is now reformatted into the NTFS file system.

Format FAT32 to NTFS

Note: If your device is incompatible with the new file system, you cannot use this method. But instead, you can follow the next two solutions to downsize the files to put them on your FAT32 storage device.

Method 2. Shrink Large Video to Fit on USB

Mostly, if you are transferring a video file to a USB and want to play it on another device, such as a TV or a game console, you need to compress the video file with a video compressor.

For Windows users, WonderFox Free HD Video Converter Factory is the perfect tool for large video compression. It can easily convert video files of several GBs to low MB while keeping a decent video quality. Moreover, it will display the estimated output file size so you’ll know whether the output video is suitable for your USB.

Free HD Video Converter is a free video compressor without watermark. There is also no video size or length restricted. Now, let’s free download free download the large video compressor and see how to compress a video file to fit on USB below.

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Step 1. Run Free HD Video Converter Factory on your PC. Then select the Converter module.

Step 2. In the converter program, click Add Files to import your large video file into the conversion list.

Fix Windows Says File is Too Large for USB

Step 3. Press the format image on the right side of the converter and the output format page will appear. Next, head to the Video format section and choose your preferred format as the output profile.

Tip. We recommend using H264 as the output format since it is an advanced codec format with great compatibility. We also suggest H265 for MP4 if your device supports it. By using the high-efficiency HEVC/H265, you can significantly reduce the file to half size compared with using H264. Meanwhile, the video quality is kept original.

Choose Output Format

Step 4. After selecting the output format, you can see the estimated output file size on the right side of the video task. If the size is less than 4GB, you can hit the Run button to start the compression immediately (you won’t lose much quality this way).

Otherwise, you can open the Parameter settings and change the video resolution, bitrate, and frame rate to a lower value to further shrink the video size.

Tip. Click the information icon ⓘ in the video task to see the original video parameters.

Step 5. Finally, click the bottom triangle button to set an output folder and press Run to start the video compression.

Note: If you need to compress multiple videos, you can upgrade to the Pro version and use the compression button to batch compress videos simultaneously. The Pro version also has a faster processing speed than the freeware.

Compress the Video to Fit on the USB

Tip. The program also comes with a video cutter that can cut large files into small video chunks for free.

Method 3. Compress or Split Large Files into Small Chunks

For large document files or other non-video files, you can use file archivers to split them into multiple small chunks and then transfer them to your FAT32 device. Free file archivers like WinRAR and 7-Zip can compress and split large files into several small files effectively. Here, we will take 7-Zip as an example and show you how to split a 4GB large file into 1GB small chunks.

Step 1. Download and install the latest version of 7-Zip at https://www.7-zip.org/.

Step 2. Right-click the large file you wish to split and select 7-Zip > Add to archive.

Step 3. In the popup window, choose the Archive format as zip. Then in the Split to volumes, bytes section, enter a size you want or choose a size from the drop-down options. In the test, we entered 1G as the split size.

Step 4. Now, click OK to begin the compression and splitting process.

After the splitting, you should have no problems transferring the files to your USB flash drive.

Compress or Split Large Files into Small Chunks

Extra Reading: Comparison of FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS

File System




Max Partition Size

32GB for all OS, 2TB for some OS


2^32 clusters – 1 cluster

Max File Size

4 GB - 1 Bytes


2^44 bytes (16 TeraBytes) minus 64KB

Supported OS

All operating systems

Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 with update KB955704, Windows Embedded CE 6.0, Windows Vista with Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 (except Windows Server 2008 Server Core), Windows 10, macOS starting from 10.6

All Windows operating systems
(In Mac OS X, the NTFS file system is read-only)

Wrap Up

Just now we explained to you why flash drive says file is too large but it’s not and shared several effective ways to fix the “file too big for USB” error. In a word, a such error happens due to the FAT32 file system. By changing FAT32 to NTFS/exFAT, you can easily avoid the FAT32 4 GB limit. But if you want to fix file too large for destination file system without formatting, you can compress or split the large files to less than 4 GB.

That’s all we want to share about how to fix “the file is too large for the destination file system”. We hope these methods have helped with your problem. Thanks for reading till the end. Have a good day!


1. What does “the file is too large for the destination file system” mean?

When your storage device has enough space but the file cannot be transferred with this error message popping up, it means your device has a max file size limit. It’s most likely that your device is formatted with the FAT32 file system, which has a file size limit of 4GB per file. Some old flash drives may also use FAT16 which caps the file size at 2GB.

2. Should I use FAT32 or NTFS for USB?

FAT32 is the most universal file system that is compatible with all operating systems, while NTFS works on Windows systems only. If you need to use a flash drive on non-Windows platforms, FAT32 is the recommended format. Otherwise, NTFS is the better option for improved reliability, disk space utilization, and overall performance.

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