FAT32 file size limit

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FAT32 file size limit: 4 GB

FAT32 (or the even older FAT16) is the file system used in older MS-DOS and Windows systems. It has been replaced by NTFS in the newest Windows operating systems, and Vista and Windows 7 do not even install into a FAT32 drive. NTFS is more reliable and offers better security and protection against data loss.

FAT32 is typically still the default file system in external hard disks, and it was also widely used by major PC manufacturers with pre-installed Windows XP systems.

FAT32 has several limitations and drawbacks compared to NTFS. From bittorrent usage perspective, the limitation of the maximum file size of 4 Gigabytes is the most important one. Information from Microsoft: Limitations of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP

It is not possible to have a larger than 4 GB file on a disk with FAT32 file system. If you try to download a torrent where at least one file has a size over 4 GB, Vuze will complain to you that "there is not enough space on the disk" and will not create the file (as the OS prevents the creation).

Check your drive's properties for its file system type: FAT32 or NTFS


Convert a FAT32 volume to an NTFS file system

Note: Although the chance of corruption or data loss during the conversion is minimal, we recommend that you perform a backup of the data on the volume that you want to convert before you start the conversion.

Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 contain a command-line tool "convert" for converting an existing FAT32 disk to NTFS without need for formatting or any data loss. Microsoft gives instructions for that: How to convert a FAT16 volume or a FAT32 volume to an NTFS file system in Windows XP

To convert an existing FAT32 volume to NTFS, follow these steps as described in the referenced Microsoft knowledgebase article:

  • Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
  • At the command prompt, type the following, where drive letter is the drive that you want to convert:
convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs
For example, type the following command to convert drive E to NTFS:
convert e: /fs:ntfs
Note If the operating system is on the drive that you are converting, you will be prompted to schedule the task when you restart the computer because the conversion cannot be completed while the operating system is running. When you are prompted, click YES.
  • When you receive the following message at the command prompt, type the volume label of the drive that you are converting, and then press ENTER:
The type of the file system is FAT.
Enter the current volume label for drive drive letter
  • When the conversion to NTFS is complete, you receive the following message at the command prompt:
Conversion complete
  • Quit the command prompt.

Read the Azureus FAQ