Why a 320GB Hard Drive Won’t Hold a 4.1GB File

If you are going to be doing any work with online video production, archiving, etc…

Here’s one thing you might want to keep in mind…

Why won’t your brand new 320GB FireWire External Hard Drive hold a file larger than 4GB?

This is the question you need to know the answer to…

Q. What is the maximum file size for the FAT32 Windows file system?


(table credit)


If your new hard drive comes formatted as a FAT32 hard drive, then the maximum file size you will be able to copy to it is: 4GB.

So you can forget about archiving those 8GB video clips from your camcorder… or those movies on DVD (if they are more than 4GB)… if your hard drive is formatted to FAT32.

Q: What is the difference between FAT32 and NTFS?

A: FAT32 is an older and more compatible file system but it has certain limitations, such as file size (maximum 4 GB). NTFS is more secure and has fewer limitations. The NTFS file system can only be used on Windows 2000 and XP. If you plan to use your Drive on Windows 2000 and/or XP only, you may want to consider re-formatting the Drive using the NTFS files system. If you plan to use the Drive on a Mac OS only, and you do not need Windows compatibility, you may want to consider re-formatting the Drive using a Mac OS Extended file system. Refer to the hard drive’s User’s Guide for instructions.

Q. Do you know what the max size limits are with Vista?

A. Yes….

If the drive is formatted as NTFS…… there is no file size limit.

NTFS is the normal/native file system for Vista ~~AND~~ XP….

If you add a NEW hard drive…. If it is formatted as….

NTFS……….. there is no file size limit.

FAT32……… is 4GB

BUT……….. You can simply RE-FORMAT the drive as an NTFS drive…


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Bruce Wagner


2 thoughts on “Why a 320GB Hard Drive Won’t Hold a 4.1GB File

  1. Powerslave

    The 4G limit with all versions of FAT (12, 16 or 32-bit) is due to it’s
    32-bit file size value used in the directory.


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