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Maximum Single File Size for FAT32 Format File System

Maximum Single File Size for FAT32 Format File System

The maximum file size for a single file on a FAT32 file system is not exactly 4 GB, but rather slightly less than that. FAT32 uses a 32-bit file allocation table, which means it can theoretically support file sizes up to 4,294,967,295 bytes (which is 4 GB minus 1 byte).

However, in practical terms, the maximum file size is usually constrained by the operating system or the software used to create or manipulate the file. Some operating systems or software may impose additional limitations, such as a maximum file size of 2 GB or 4 GB.

Furthermore, while FAT32 technically supports file sizes up to 4 GB minus 1 byte, it may not be the most efficient or reliable choice for handling very large files due to its limitations. For handling larger files, other file systems like NTFS (New Technology File System) or exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) are typically more suitable.

Microsoft did not explicitly stop supporting FAT32 for formatting 64GB drives, but rather the limitations of the FAT32 file system itself led to practical considerations. FAT32 has inherent limitations in terms of maximum volume size and file size.

FAT32 has a maximum volume size limit of 32 GB when formatting drives in Windows. While there are ways to format larger drives with FAT32 (e.g., using third-party utilities or command-line tools), it’s not officially supported by Windows due to compatibility and stability concerns.

Given the limitations, Microsoft and other operating system developers have shifted towards file systems like NTFS (New Technology File System) and exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) for handling larger drives and files. NTFS, in particular, provides better performance, security features, and support for larger volumes and files compared to FAT32.

Therefore, while FAT32 remains useful for smaller drives and compatibility with older systems and devices, its limitations make it less suitable for modern storage solutions, especially when dealing with larger capacities like 64GB or more.

Related: Why did Microsoft drop the feature to format 64GB flash drives as FAT32?

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Matt LeBoff

Kicking around in technology since 2002. I like to write about technology products and ideas, but at the consumer level understanding. Some tech, but not too techie.

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