How do I make my flash drive accept large files?

Having trouble transferring large files to your flash drive? This is a common issue many users face when their USB flash drive doesn’t have enough storage space or is formatted with an incompatible file system. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prepare your flash drive to accept larger files.

Quick Fixes

Here are some quick things to try if your flash drive won’t accept a large file:

  • Free up space on the flash drive by deleting unnecessary files. The more free space available, the higher the chance the large file will transfer successfully.
  • Try transferring the file in chunks rather than all at once. Split the file into smaller parts using zip software or other file compression tools.
  • Use a different USB port on your computer. Some ports may have better transfer speeds than others.
  • Try a different flash drive. Not all flash drives have the same storage capacity or performance.

Change the File System

One of the main reasons a flash drive may not accept large files is because it’s formatted with the FAT32 file system. FAT32 has a maximum file size limit of 4GB. If you try to save a file larger than 4GB, you’ll get an error.

To fix this, you need to reformat the flash drive to a different file system without this limitation. Two good options are exFAT or NTFS:

  • exFAT – Supports files up to 16EB (exabyte) in size. Compatible with Mac and Windows.
  • NTFS – Supports files up to 16EB (exabyte) in size. Primarily for Windows but can also be used with Mac with third-party software.

Here are the steps to reformat your flash drive to a new file system:

  1. Backup any important files on the flash drive you want to keep. Reformatting will erase everything.
  2. Connect the flash drive to your computer.
  3. On Windows, open Disk Management. On Mac, open Disk Utility.
  4. Right click on the flash drive and select “Format”.
  5. Choose exFAT or NTFS as the new file system.
  6. Give the drive a name if asked.
  7. Click “Format” or “Erase” to confirm.

Once reformatted with exFAT or NTFS, your flash drive should now accept files larger than 4GB.

Optimize Performance

Making some tweaks to enhance your flash drive’s performance can also help large file transfers succeed. Here are some tips:

  • Use USB 3.0 ports – USB 3.0 is over 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Use a USB 3.0 drive and matching port.
  • Remove encryption – Encryption adds overhead that slows transfers. Avoid encrypted flash drives for large files.
  • Use quality drives – Look for reputable brands and high-end models that are engineered for performance.
  • Format regularly – Reformat your drive every so often to clear out fragmented data and speed up writes.

You can also optimize the software side by:

  • Closing other programs using the flash drive during transfers.
  • Disabling antivirus scans of the flash drive.
  • Updating your OS, BIOS, chipset, and USB drivers.

Split Across Multiple Drives

If you need to transfer extremely large files that are too big for one flash drive, you can split the file across two or more drives.

For example, to transfer a 12GB file using two 8GB flash drives:

  1. Use file compression software to split the 12GB file into two 6GB pieces.
  2. Copy one 6GB piece onto Drive 1.
  3. Copy the other 6GB piece onto Drive 2.
  4. Transfer both flash drives to the destination computer.
  5. Use the compression software again to recombine the two pieces back into the original 12GB file.

This allows you to work around the storage limits of individual flash drives and transport files larger than what one drive can hold.

Use Flash Drive Formatting Software

If you need extra customization options for making your flash drive file-friendly, third-party formatting tools provide advanced settings beyond what your operating system offers.

For example, popular flash drive formatter software options include:

Software Features
HP USB Format Tool Low-level HDD format for increased performance. For Windows.
Ridisk Powerful formatting with advanced cluster size settings. For Windows.
SD Formatter Creates optimized file systems for SD cards and flash drives. For Windows & Mac.

These tools allow you to customize the allocation unit size, fragmentation thresholds, and other advanced options when formatting your flash drive to help accommodate large file sizes.


With the right formatting, configuration, performance optimization, and splitting techniques, you can modify your flash drive to take on even the very largest files. The key is using the correct file system like exFAT or NTFS, enhancing speed through USB 3.0 and proper software setup, and dividing the data across multiple drives if needed.

By following these tips, you can eliminate file size restrictions and transfer enormous files easily using everyday flash drives.