How to write a large file to a USB flash drive or disk

large-file-and-stick Hello.

It would seem that a seemingly simple task: transfer one (or several) files from one computer to another, having previously written them to a USB flash drive. As a rule, problems with small (up to 4000 MB) files do not arise, but what to do with other (large) files that sometimes do not fit on a USB flash drive (and if they should fit, then for some reason an error appears when copying)?

In this short article I will provide some tips to help you write files over 4 GB to a USB flash drive. So…

Why does an error appear when copying a file over 4 GB to a USB flash drive

Perhaps this is the first question to start the article with. The fact is that many flash drives come with the FAT32 file system by default. And after buying a flash drive, most users do not change this file system (i.e. FAT32 remains). But the FAT32 file system does not support files larger than 4 GB – so you start writing the file to the USB flash drive, and when it reaches the 4 GB threshold, a write error appears.

To eliminate such an error (or work around it), you can act in several ways:

  1. write not one large file – but many small ones (i.e. split the file into 'chunks'. By the way, this method is suitable if you need to transfer a file whose size is larger than the size of your flash drive!);
  2. format the flash drive to another file system (for example, in NTFS. Attention! When formatting, all data from the media is deleted);
  3. convert without data loss FAT32 to NTFS file system.

I will consider each method in more detail.

1) How to split one large file into several small ones and write them to a USB flash drive

This method is good for its versatility and simplicity: you do not need to back up files from a flash drive (for example, to format it), you do not need to convert anything or anywhere (do not waste time on these operations). In addition, this method is perfect if your flash drive is smaller than the file that you want to transfer (you just have to flip the pieces of the file 2 times, or use a second flash drive).

For splitting a file, I recommend Total Commander .

Total Commander


2016-05-29 09_29_27-total

One of the most popular programs that often replaces the explorer. Allows you to perform all the most necessary operations on files: renaming (including bulk), compression into archives, unpacking, splitting files, working with FTP, etc. In general, one of those programs – which is recommended to be mandatory on a PC.

To split a file in Total Commander: select the required file with the mouse, and then go to the menu: 'File / split file' (screenshot below).

2016-05-29 09_26_30-Split file

Split file

Next, you need to enter the size of the parts in MB, into which the file will be split. The most popular sizes (for example, for burning to CD) are already present in the program. In general, enter the desired size: for example, 3900 MB.

2016-05-29 09_27_06-Size of parts

And then the program will split the file into parts, and you just have to write all of them (or several of them) to a USB flash drive and transfer to another PC (laptop). In principle, the task is completed.

2016-05-29 09_34_27-It was-now

By the way, the screenshot above shows the source file, and in a red box, the files that turned out when the source file was split into several parts.

To open the source file on another computer (where you will transfer these files), you need to do the opposite procedure: i.e. collect the file. First, transfer all the pieces of the broken source file, and then open Total Commander, select the first file (with type 001, see the screen above) and go to the 'File / Build File' menu. Actually, then it only remains to indicate the folder where the file will be collected and wait a while …

2) How to format a USB flash drive to the NTFS file system

The formatting operation will help if you are trying to write a file over 4 GB to a USB flash drive whose file system is FAT32 (i.e. does not support such large files). Let's consider the operation step by step.

Attention! When you format a USB flash drive, all files on it will be deleted. Before doing this, make a backup copy of all important data that is on it.

1) First you need to go to 'My Computer' (or 'This Computer', depending on the version Windows).

2) Next, connect the USB flash drive and copy all the files from it to the disk (make a backup copy).

3) Right-click on the flash drive and select the 'Format' function in the context menu (see the screenshot below).

2016-05-29 09_47_02-Formatting the flash drive

4) Then it remains only to choose another file system – NTFS (it just supports files over 4 GB) and agree to formatting.

2016-05-29 09_48_50-Formatting _ESD-ISO (G_) _

After a few seconds (usually) the operation will be completed and you can continue working with the flash drive (including writing larger files to it than before).

3) How to convert FAT32 file system to NTFS

In general, despite the fact that the operation of an envelope from FAT32 to NTFS should take place without data loss, I recommend saving all important documents to a separate medium (from personal experience: doing this operation dozens of times, one of them ended up with some of the folders with Russian names – lost their names, becoming hieroglyphs. That is, there was an error related to the encoding).

Also, this operation will take some time, therefore, in my opinion, formatting is a preferable option for a flash drive (with preliminary copying of important data. More about this a little higher in the article).

So, to convert, you need:

1) Go to 'my computer' (or 'this computer') and find out the drive letter of the flash drive (screenshot below).

2016-05-29 10_02_48-Drive letter

2) Next, run the command line as administrator. In Windows 7 this is done through the 'START / Programs' menu, in Windows 8, 10 – you can simply right-click on the 'START' menu and select this command from the context menu (screenshot below) .

2016-05-29 10_03_51-Command line

3) Then it remains only to enter the command convert F: / FS: NTFS and press ENTER (where F: is the letter of your disk or flash drive that you want to convert).

2016-05-29 10_06_56-envelope in the command line You just have to wait for the operation to complete: the operation time will depend on the size of the disk. By the way, during this operation it is highly discouraged to run extraneous tasks.

That's all for me, good work!

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