Fixed: File is too Large to Copy to External Hard Drive

April 1, 2019

How to fix the problem that file is too large to copy to external hard drive? To do so, three efficient methods are described here.

File is too large to copy to external hard drive

For data security and portability, users usually copy their files to an external hard drive. Have you ever received the error message - "The file is too large for the destination file system" or other similar messages when you copy a file to an external hard drive?


You may wonder why does this happen? This error happens when your files are larger than the available space of the external hard drive or the file you’re trying to transfer exceeds the maximum size limit for the destination drive file system.

FAT, FAT32 and NTFS are the most common file systems in Windows. FAT, known as FAT16, only supports a file up to 2GB. The maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB. For NTFS, the maximum file size is 16TB. That’s why this error occurs despite having ample amount of space on your external hard drive.

File is too large for external hard drive – how to resolve?

Whatever the reason, you must really want to solve this problem immediately. Here you will find three effective solutions for this issue. You can choose the one best suited to your actual situations.

Solution 1. Replace the current external hard drive with a larger one

When you find that the file is too large to be stored in a corresponding external hard drive, you can take the easiest way – prepare a larger external hard drive. For instance, the file is 5GB and you have only 4GB available space in your external drive, then you can turn to an external drive that is equal to or larger than 5GB.

However, this method is not suitable for users who have no larger external hard drive. If you’re one of those people, try next solution.

Solution 2. Change the file system via Diskpart

Step 1. Press Windows logo key + R at the same time. Type diskpart in the box. Then click OK to start Command Prompt.

Run Box

Step 2. Type the commands below into the Command Prompt one at a time and press Enter after each command.

  • list disk

  • select disk n (n represents the disk number of your external hard drive)

  • clean

  • create partition primary

  • format fs=ntfs quick or format fs=fat32 quick


Step 3. Wait for the process to be completed, type exit and then press Enter.

Although this solution can help you convert FAT to NTFS and convert FAT32 to NTFS, it will erase all data on your external hard drive. Thus, you’d better backup external hard drive in advance. If the external drive contains a lot of important data and you don’t want to format it, please refer to the next solution.

Solution 3. Split a larger file to an ideal size with the freeware

Things get easier when you using the splitting feature provide by AOMEI Backupper Standard. After doing a file backup, you may find the image file is too large to copy to USB or other external hard drives. Fortunately, this utility allows you to split the image file into the ideal size you want during the backup process.

Unlike Diskpart, this utility guarantees the integrity of your files. The user-friendly interface and simple steps make your operations effortlessly. It offers you various features like system backup, disk backup, and partition backup, etc.

Best of all, it is completely free to use and download. Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported. How to copy large files to external hard drive? Let’s learn the detailed steps. Before you do so, make sure this freeware is already installed on your computer.


Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your computer. Click File Backup under Backup tab.

File Backup

Step 2. Change the Task Name as you like. Click Add Folder in Step 1. Choose Browse to find your folder. Then click OK.

Select Folder

Step 3. Select your external hard drive (here is D:\) in Step 2.

Select Destination

Step 4. Choose Backup Options from the bottom of the interface. Choose Splitting to split your image .Then click OK.


Step 5. Confirm your operations and then click Start Backup.

Start Backup


  • You may need to backup files with a certain file extension. Click Filter settings (in Professional edition) at Step 2 to complete this task.

  • At Step 4, Automatic means the split size depends on the file system of the external hard drive. Customize size (supported by paid version) means you can type a proper value and then the image will be split to this size (the minimum size is 50MB). You can tick the Choose a predetermined size box to choose the storage medium type in the drop-down menu. Then the program will split the image file to suit your external hard drive.

  • Your files will be backed up automatically if you click Schedule at Step 5. For settings, you can choose Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in or Real-time Sync. Upgrade to the advanced version to enjoy the last three modes.

  • Scheme (in Professional edition) means the program will delete the older backups automatically. You can click it at Step 5 to manage your disk space.

  • After splitting, it is recommended to keep these image files in the same directory to ensure the convenience of data management.


Don't panic when you face the problem that file is too large to copy to external hard drive. Take a moment to read this essay as it contains three proven methods. AOMEI Backupper Standard can be your best choice when you need to backup files and split the image file into the appropriate sizes at the same time.

It should be noticed that external hard drives are easy to damage and lose, so you can use this freeware to backup files to cloud drives, network or NAS devices just in case.