When you transfer a file to a flash drive or USB on Windows, you may receive an error message "The file is too large for the destination file system." You checked the USB capacity and there is plenty of space left. So why does this error occur? How to solve it? Don't worry. This article has the answers you need.
Michelle Michelle | Updated on Nov 16, 2023

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

“I'm trying to transfer a file from my computer to my USB. 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?”

If your USB flash drive shows that the file is too large, but it is not, it may be because your USB flash drive is formatted with the FAT32 file system, which supports a maximum file size of 4 GB for a single file. So, if your file is around or over 4GB, you won't be able to transfer it to USB even if there is enough free space.

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

A file system is a structure that organizes data stored on a disk drive. In addition to FAT32, there are exFAT and NTFS file systems, which support much larger file sizes than FAT32. You can try reformatting FAT32 to NFTS or exFAT to overcome the FAT32 file size limit. However, keep in mind that exFAT and NTFS are compatible with fewer devices than FAT32. If your device only supports FAT32, you will need to compress or split the files into smaller files to place them on the FAT32 device. Below, you’ll learn more about how to fix the “file is too large for destination file system” error. 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. Download this free video compressor to have a try now!

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

Method 1. Change File System to NTFS or exFAT

As mentioned earlier, NTFS and exFAT can hold large files exceeding 4 GB. You can change the FAT32 file system to one of these to fix this problem. If you want to use the file later on a Windows system, it is recommended that you convert FAT32 to NTFS.

On Windows, you can convert FAT32 to NTFS with or without formatting. But before proceeding, please back up all your USB data in advance to prevent 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

Method 2. Shrink Large Video to Fit on USB

If method 1 doesn't work for you, you'll need to compress the files you want to transfer. In most cases, if you want to transfer video files, you can use a video compressor to compress them.

WonderFox Free HD Video Converter Factory is a versatile video processing software on Windows that can easily convert several GB video files to low MB video files while maintaining good video quality. Furthermore, it also estimates the output file size so you know whether the output video will fit your USB. Now, let’s download download this software for free and see how to compress video files to fit on USB.

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Step 1. Run the software, then select the Converter module.

Step 2. Click Add Files to import your video file into the conversion list.

Add Video

Step 3. Press the format image on the right to open the output format page. 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 compatible with most platforms and devices. We also suggest H265 for MP4 if your target 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. 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 need open Parameter settings and change the video resolution, bitrate, and frame rate to a lower value to further shrink the video size.

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

Step 5. Finally, click the bottom ▼ button to set an output folder and press Run to finish the process.

Start Compression

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

Method 3. Compress or Split Large Files into Small Chunks

For large document files, software, games, etc., 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 from 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

"The file is too large for destination file system" error is caused by the FAT32 file system. You can easily avoid this error by changing FAT32 to NTFS or exFAT. However, if you do not want to reformat your USB or flash drive, or your target device only supports FATT32, you must compress or split the file to less than 4 GB.

That’s all we want to share about how to fix files too large for USB. We hope these methods help resolve your issue. Thank you for reading to the end. Have a nice day!


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

When this error message pops up and your storage device has enough space, it means that your device has a maximum file size limit. Your device is most likely formatted using the FAT32 file system, which has a file size limit of 4GB per file. Some older flash drives may also use FAT16, which has a file size limit of 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 all platforms, FAT32 is the recommended format. Otherwise, NTFS is the better option for improved reliability, disk space utilization, and overall performance.

3. How do I fix a file that is too large for USB?

If your USB says the file is too large, it may be using the FAT32 system, which has a 4GB file size limit. To fix the issue, you can reformat the USB to another system such as NTFS or exFAT, or use a file compressor to compress the file into a smaller size.

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