How To Copy Large Video Files to a USB Flash Drive or Other FAT32 Storage Device

Oct 4, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

How To Copy Large Video Files to a USB Flash Drive or Other FAT32 Storage Device

Oct 4, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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How To Format your USB flash drive to exFAT

Most of the time I deliver finished photos and videos to my clients via digital download. It’s quick, easy and saves me time and money by avoiding the hassle of uploading files to a physical storage device and sending it in the mail.

However, it is occasionally necessary to copy photography and videos to a USB flash drive for delivery to a client (some clients don’t have reliable high speed internet, some want a physical product, some don’t have a reliable PC and some are just not tech savvy enough to figure out how to download a large number of files from a link).

One issue that I have started to run into – especially with longer or 4K video – is transferring files larger than 4 GB to a USB flash drive.

Fortunately, the solution is relatively easy – here is how to copy files larger than 4 GB to a USB flash drive, memory card or other FAT32 storage device.

The Problem

Most USB flash drives (and memory cards) come pre-formatted with the FAT32 file system. While this is fine for day to day use, one key limitation of the FAT32 file system is that you cannot save individual files that are over 4GB in size.

Back in 1995 when the FAT32 file system was introduced, this wasn’t much of a problem – nobody had 4GB files! However, with 4K video, longer HD videos or ProRes / DNxHD video clips, exceeding that 4GB file size limit isn’t too hard to do.

If you try to copy a file that is larger than 4GB to a USB flash drive with the default FAT32 file system, you will get an error saying that there is not enough space to copy the file (even if its say a 6GB file being copied onto a 64GB USB flash drive with lots of room to spare).

The Solution

To solve this problem, all you need to do is format your USB flash drive with the exFAT file system.

exFAT has no file size limitations and is compatible across most modern devices including both Windows and macOS (although there may be some compatibility issues with older devices).

To format your USB flash drive with the exFAT file system: select the USB drive you want to format from your file explorer, right click and select “Format”, then in the format dialogue, choose exFAT under the File System drop down menu.

format-to-usb-drive-to-exfat

Warning! This will delete everything on the drive you are formatting, so make sure you have selected the correct drive and that you don’t have any critical data saved that you don’t want to lose.

If you are working in a strictly Windows environment, you could also format your USB drive to NTFS, but exFAT is more compatible across platforms and is specifically optimized for flash drives.

If you’re interested, here is a great article that explains the difference between FAT32, exFAT and NTFS.

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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12 responses to “How To Copy Large Video Files to a USB Flash Drive or Other FAT32 Storage Device”

  1. Vladimir Khudyakov Avatar
    Vladimir Khudyakov

    NTFS too…

  2. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    That was kinda funny… How to copy large files into your fat32 storage device? Format it to exFat or NTFS. :P
    A not so practical alternative is to compress the content into 4Gb chunks, if you don’t want or can’t let go of the fat32 file system.

  3. C'est Levy Avatar
    C’est Levy

    Well you see TVs and Blue Ray boxes don’t recognize exFAT so his method is worthless in some cases.

  4. LJ Avatar
    LJ

    Worked for me! Thank you!!

  5. Inappropriate Language Avatar
    Inappropriate Language

    EXACTLY! THIS IS TERRIBLE ADVICE! MAKE SURE TO ALWAYS SELECT “NTFS”

    AND CHANGE ALLOCATION SIZE TO “4096 BYTES”!!! MANY DEVICES WILL NOT READ OR ACCEPT exFAT! THATS WHY THIS IS TERRIBLE NOOB ADVICE MADE BY APPARENT CLUELESS FOOLS THAT ARE TRYING TO SABOTAGE YOUR EQUIPMENT!

    1. Yvon Avatar
      Yvon

      My Blue Ray player won’t recognize Anything but Fat 32 tried everything else ie: NTSF and EXFAT won’t recognize the have 3 Blue Ray players and it’s the same with them all. What can I do any ideas?

  6. Ayesha Qureshi Avatar
    Ayesha Qureshi

    Worked for me, Thanks

  7. Richard Young Avatar
    Richard Young

    Thank you very much, it worked in two minutes, wished I had read this solution before buying another flash drive thinking something was wrong with the one I had.

  8. Jennifer Avatar
    Jennifer

    Thanks, and you can also compress the large video files with wonderfox hd video converter factory, to smaller file size.

  9. Cornelius Nyamene Avatar
    Cornelius Nyamene

    Am still facing the problem please help

  10. Carl Avatar
    Carl

    Most of the new USB sticks nowadays come with exFat as their file system, however it is still not possible to store large files on them (e.g. 8Gb and up). You won’t read easily what is the reason for this, but I assume it is a limitation that manufactors put themselfs on. It is like they have a slightly different exFat file system, just to exchange files faster, or for a faster error correction.

    If you want to store large files on a USB stick, just format it in exFat in Windows and it will work.
    (exFat is made open-source by Microsoft, and will be implemented on Linux systems on the end of 2019.)

  11. Szebran Avatar
    Szebran

    I think people were to quick to criticize the article. This worked for me. I have Linux and it was able to read the exfat table.
    If its a video file and your TV cannot play it, downsize the file to 1080P using ffmpeg or some other transcoder.