file too large

Have you tried transferring a file to an external storage device like an SD/microSD card, USB flash drive, or external hard drive and got this error message – “The file is too large for destination file system“? You might have wondered why this happened and what caused this error despite having an ample amount of space on your storage device.

This error happens when the file you’re trying to transfer exceeds the maximum file size limit for a specific format. The most common default type of format used for most USB drives is FAT32 which has a maximum file size limit of only 4GB. If you’re having issues transferring files to your USB drives or external hard drives because of the “File is too large for destination file system” error, don’t worry because today we’re gonna help you solve this problem. There are different options and solutions for different scenarios.

IMPORTANT: Before you proceed with formatting your external/internal storage device, make sure that you backup all your important files either to a separate local storage device or uploading them to the cloud.


If for some reason you can’t format the storage device, then you can split the file using a free file splitting software like GSplit or HJSPlit.

Once the large file has been split into smaller files, you can proceed to transfer the files one at a time into your storage device.


If you choose to format the storage device, then you will have three options: NTFS, HFS+ or exFAT.

NTFS, which is the default format type in Windows has a 16EB (Exabytes) file size limit and is read-only on OS X meaning, you can only view the files but can’t transfer them. Drives formatted with the default OS X format – HFS+ or more commonly known as Mac OS Extended (8EB file size limit) can’t be read on Windows computers. If you’re only using Windows machines then use NTFS. If you’re only gonna use the external storage device for OS X machines, then use HFS+ or Mac OS Extended.

Users who would like the ability to transfer files on both Windows and OS X without having to worry about file size limits, then use exFAT which has read-write functionality for both Windows & OS X and a max file size limit of 16EiB (Exbibyte).

For those who decided to proceed with the 2nd method which is to format the storage device, here are the steps you need to follow:

MAC OS X – HFS+ (Mac OS Extended)

  • Open Finder
  • Click or open the Applications folder.
  • Click on Utilities.
  • Click on Disk Utility.
  • Locate the storage device or drive on the sidebar and make sure it’s selected or highlighted.
  • Click on the Erase tab.
  • In the Format option, select either exFAT or Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  • Type in the preferred name for the storage device.
  • Click Erase and wait for it to finish.


  • Open Windows Explorer.
  • Look for the storage device or flash drive in the sidebar.
  • Right-click on it and select “Format“.
  • In “File System” select either exFAT or NTFS.
  • Click Start and wait for it to finish.

That’s it! Now you can transfer files into your USB drive or external hard drive without having to worry about maximum file size limits and the “File is too large for destination file system” error message.

Hope this quick and simple tutorial was able to help you. Please don’t forget to bookmark or share it with your family and friends.

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Owner and editor of JaypeeOnline. Self-proclaimed geek. New media writer and consultant. WordPress advocate. Loves blogging, gadgets, video games and sports. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

1 Comment

  • vibiane, February 9, 2021 @ 2:58 PM

    it deleted everything on my hard drive.. HOW CAN I RESTORE THAT????

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