How to Copy Files Larger Than 4GB on USB Flash Memory

By Aaron Parson

USB flash drives offer a portable stick of memory for storing and transferring computer files. With USB drive-size increasing every year, the format allows transfer of larger and larger files. Due to a limitation in the FAT32 file system, however, a USB drive cannot save a single file over four GB in size by default. Getting around this limitation requires reformatting the flash drive into the NTFS file system that has no such size limit.

Step 1

Insert the USB drive into your computer. Copy any files on the drive onto your computer hard drive, as reformatting requires erasing all data on the USB drive.

Step 2

Open the "Computer" window from the "Start" menu and right-click on your USB drive. Click "Properties."

Step 3

Click the "Policies" tab and select the "Optimize for performance" button. NTFS formatting on a USB stick requires the write-caching enabled by this option. Press "OK" to save the setting.

Step 4

Right-click the USB drive again and click "Format."

Step 5

Open the "File system" pull-down menu and click "NTFS."

Step 6

Uncheck the "Quick Format" box if it is checked.

Step 7

Press "Start" and wait while the drive formats. After completion, you can copy files of any size to your USB drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • After selecting "Optimize for performance," you will need to stop the USB drive within Windows before disconnecting it. To stop the drive, right-click on the drive in the "Computer" window and click "Eject." Removing the drive without ejecting it may cause data loss.
  • Formatting deletes all data on the USB drive. Back-up all data before formatting.
  • Because the NTFS file system is specific to Windows XP and newer Windows operating systems, a USB drive formatted with NTFS will not work on older Windows systems, Macintosh computers, Linux or other electronics devices. Using your USB drive on these systems will require reformatting back to FAT32.