Sunday, September 22, 2013

Unable to transfer a 4GB or larger file to a USB Flash Drive? - Know How

Formatting a USB drive is no different than formatting any other drive.  But how often have you actually formatted a drive and did you ever wonder what the various options mean?

Most of us go with the default settings without second guessing their logic. Naturally, optimal settings depend on the type of hardware to be formatted and what you are planning to do with it.

This article will hep you make the best choice. It explains what each option does and which one is best suited for your drive and expected use.

How to transfer 4GB or Larger File to USB?
Simple words just format with NTFS

Advantages and disadvantages of the different file systems:
FAT16 system for use on small USB key (2GB maximum).
Accessible via MS-DOS and all versions of Windows.
Maximum file size: 2 GB
FAT32 system best used for multimedia keys.
Accessible through all versions of Windows from Windows 95 OSR2.
Maximum file size: 4 GB
NTFS file system to use for transporting files larger than 4 GB
Accessible through all versions of Windows from Windows NT4.

Maximum file size: unlimited with normal use. Indepth Explanation below.

How To Format a USB Drive In Windows

Whether you’re running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, the steps are essentially the same. Connect the USB drive, go to > Computer or > My Computer, right-click the drive and select > Format… from the menu.

format usb drive

The formatting options you have are > File system, > Allocation unit size, > Volume label, and >  Format options.
Formatting Options

To format your drive, you simply make your selection, click > Start, click > OK to confirm that you really want to erase all data and the drive will be formatted.
format usb drive
However, before you proceed with formatting, you will want to understand what each of these options actually means. So let’s analyze them one by one.

Which File System To Choose?

In Windows 7 you will see a maximum of four different file systems: NTFS, FAT, FAT32, and exFAT. You will actually not see FAT and FAT32 if your drive is larger than 32 GB. So what is the difference between those file systems and which one should you choose? Let’s look at the benefits of each.

NTFS Compared To FAT & FAT32:

  • read/write files larger than 4 GB and up to maximum partition size.
  • create partitions larger than 32 GB.
  • compress files and save disk space.
  • better space management = less fragmentation.
  • allows more clusters on larger drives = less wasted space.
  • add user permissions to individual files and folders (Windows Professional).
  • on-the-fly file encryption using EFS (Encrypting File System; Windows Professional).

FAT & FAT32 Compared To NTFS:

  • compatible with virtually all operating systems.
  • takes up less space on USB drive.
  • less disk writing operations = faster and less memory usage.

exFAT Compared To FAT & FAT32:

  • read/write files larger than 4 GB.
  • create drive partitions larger than 32 GB.
  • better space management = less fragmentation.
Due to its nature, FAT or better yet FAT32 are suitable for drives smaller than 32 GB and in an environment where you never need to store files larger than 2 or 4 GB, respectively. In other words, any regular sized hard drive (60 GB +) should be formatted with NTFS.

However, due to the way NTFS works it is not recommended for flash drives, even when they are bigger than 32 GB. This is where exFAT comes in. It unites the essential advantages of FAT (small, fast) and NTFS (large file size supported) in a way that is optimal for flash drives.

Keep in mind though that FAT and FAT32 are the only file systems that are cross-platform compatible. NTFS is supported by Linux, but it requires a hack or third party application to work on the Mac. exFAT on the other hand is supported in Snow Leopard, but drivers are required for Linux.

If for compatibility or speed reasons you want to go with FAT or FAT32, always go with FAT32, unless you are dealing with a device of 2 GB or smaller.

Which Allocation Unit Size Works Best?

Hard drives are organized in clusters and the allocation unit size describes the size of a single cluster. The file system records the state of each cluster, i.e. free or occupied. Once a file or a portion of a file is written to a cluster, the cluster is occupied, regardless of whether or not there is still space.

Hence, larger clusters can lead to more wasted or slack space. With smaller clusters, however, the drive becomes slower as each file is broken up into smaller pieces and it takes much longer to draw them all together when the file is accessed.

So the optimal allocation unit size depends on what you want to do with your USB drive. If you want to store large files on that drive, a large cluster size is better as the drive will be faster. If, however, you want to store small files or run programs off your flash drive, a smaller cluster size will help preserve space.

Rule of thumb: large drive and/or large files = large allocation unit size

For a 500 MB USB flash drive, rather select 512 bytes (FAT32) or 32 kilobytes (FAT). On a 1 TB external hard drive select 64 kilobytes (NTFS).

What Is A Volume Label?

The volume label simply is the name of the drive. It’s optional and you can basically name your drive anything you want. However, there are a few rules to follow, depending on the file system you’re going to format with.


  • maximum of 32 characters.
  • no tabs.
  • will be displayed with uppercase and lowercase, as entered.


  • maximum of 11 characters.
  • none of the following characters: * ? . , ; : / \ | + = < > [ ]
  • no tabs.
  • will be displayed as all uppercase.

Spaces are allowed regardless of the file system.

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