How to Fix file too large for destination file system error

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"I recently purchased a new hard drive. Today I was trying to copy some files to the drive when I got the following error: file too large for destination file system. There is plenty of room on my hard drive, so I don't understand what's wrong."

When you see the error message telling you there's a file too large for destination file system, this does not mean your hard drive is out of space. The error message means the formatting of the hard drive doesn't support large files. Many hard drives come formatted with what is known as the FAT32 file system, which doesn't support files larger than 4GB. You can solve the problem by modifying the file system on the hard drive.

To fix your file too large for destination file system error, you can either format the disk to a file system with support for files larger than 4GB or you can convert the file system on the drive.

Reformat the hard drive to NTFS

If you format the disk, you will also erase any files stored on the hard drive. That's the downside to formatting. Opting to reformat the hard drive is a straight forward process. Right-click the hard drive in Windows Explorer and choose Format. Choose NTFS from the File System options. The rest of the settings can remain on their current settings. Click Start. When the format completes, you will have a hard drive that supports files larger than 4GB files. Remember, this option will erase any files you currently have on the disk.

Convert the hard drive to NTFS

Converting the file system from FAT32 to NTFS, solves your problem of being able to copy large files to your new hard drive without erasing anything currently on the hard drive. The NTFS file system supports files up to 16 Terra bytes in size, which is much larger than most files you would ever encounter. The only potential downside to converting to NTFS is that you can't convert back without reformatting, but there's almost no reason you would want to convert back.

Converting FAT32 or FAT file systems to NTFS does not erase any files currently on the disk. To convert your hard drive, hold down the Windows key and tap R, or click the Start button and type cmd in the search box. Either method opens the command line.

You then need to type convert drive_letter:/fs:ntfs. You will replace drive_letter with the letter of the hard drive. For example, if the drive letter is G, you would type convert G:/fs:ntfs. When the conversion completes, your drive will be formatted with the NTFS file system and you will be able to copy files larger than 4GB to the drive.