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I recently purchased a 32GB USB 3 stick that was formatted FAT32. I plugged it into my computer and attempted to copy a film onto it, the file was over 4GB however and it would not let me copy the file across because of the 4GB file size limit imposed by FAT32.

After some googling I found that I could format my USB stick to have an exFAT format which would mean I could put files onto the stick greater than 4GB in size and the drive would work on both my Mac and my PC.

The problem with this solution is that my PS3 cannot detect the USB stick when it is formatted with exFAT.

I would like to know if there is a way I can have my USB stick formatted so it can have files greater than 4 GB and work on my PC, Mac and PS3.

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8 Answers 8

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, there is no way to copy a >4GB file to a FAT32 file system. And a quick google says your PS3 will only recognize FAT32 file systems.

Your only option is to use smaller files. Maybe chop them into pieces before moving them or compress them.

I would try a networked solution to file sharing.

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Yup, this is the plan. I was hoping a stick would provide a short term solution. Thanks anyway. –  Aesir Jun 23 '12 at 7:30
If you want to try something, it's more likely that a PS3 will support NTFS as compared to exFAT. You can try formatting your memory stick NTFS just in case the PS3 will see it. But I don't think you'll have much like. It's just what I would do in this situation if I were being stubborn. –  OmnipotentEntity Jun 23 '12 at 7:32

Natively, you cannot store files larger than 4 GB on a FAT file system. The 4 GB barrier is a hard limit of FAT: the file system uses a 32-bit field to store the file size in bytes, and 2^32 bytes = 4 GiB (actually, the real limit is 4 GiB minus one byte, or 4 294 967 295 bytes, because you can have files of zero length). So you cannot copy a file that is larger than 4 GiB to any plain-FAT volume. exFAT solves this by using a 64-bit field to store the file size but that doesn't really help you as it requires a reformat of the partition.

However, if you split the file into multiple files and recombine them later, that will allow you to transfer all of the data, just not as a single file (so you'll likely need to recombine the file before it is useful). For example, on Linux you can do something similar to:

$ truncate -s 6G my6gbfile
$ split --bytes=2GB --numeric-suffixes my6gbfile my6gbfile.part
$ ls
my6gbfile         my6gbfile.part00  my6gbfile.part01
my6gbfile.part02  my6gbfile.part03

Here, I use truncate to create a sparse file 6 GiB in size. (Just substitute your own.) Then, I split them into segments approximately 2 GB in size each; the last segment is smaller, but that does not present a problem in any situation I can come up with. You can also, instead of --bytes=2GB, use --number=4 if you wish to split the file into four equal-size chunks; the size of each chunk in that case would be 1 610 612 736 bytes or about 1.6 GiB.

To combine them, just use cat (concatenate):

$ cat my6gbfile.part* > my6gbfile.recombined

Confirm that the two are identical:

$ md5sum --binary my6gbfile my6gbfile.recombined
58cf638a733f919007b4287cf5396d0c *my6gbfile
58cf638a733f919007b4287cf5396d0c *my6gbfile.recombined

This can be used with any maximum file size limitation.

Many file archivers also support splitting the file into multi-part archive files; earlier this was used to fit large archives onto floppy disks, but these days it can just as well be used to overcome maximum file size limitations like these. File archivers also usually support a "store" or "no compression" mode which can be used if you know the contents of the file cannot be usefully further losslessly compressed, as is often the case with already compressed archives, movies, music and so on; when using such a mode, the compressed file simply acts as a container giving you the file-splitting ability, and the actual data is simply copied into the archive file, saving on processing time.

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Thanks this solves the problem. –  09stephenb May 23 '14 at 12:43
File splitting is as old as size limits. All that has changed over the years is the partition size limit and max file size :) –  gbarry May 24 '14 at 16:02
@gbarry Indeed. Edited to make that point less presumptuous. –  Michael Kjörling May 24 '14 at 16:07
This sloves the question, but not if OP wants to use it on his PS3. –  redbeam_ May 27 at 14:58
@redbeam_ This answer was originally posted on a different question which didn't include the PS3 constraint, and which was later merged with (not merely closed as duplicate of) this question. –  Michael Kjörling May 27 at 20:56

Expanding on Michael's idea, many compression utilities/formats support a "store" mode, where they don't actually do any compression. Most of those same utilities also support splitting into multiple archives. Combine the two, and you can split a file without wasting a bunch of time compressing it. I've used this technique myself to overcome the exact problem you're having.

One big advantage to doing it this way is that the compression format acts as a wrapper, keeping you from accidentally doing anything with only one part of the file. It also tends to be simpler for non-technical users. (Not everyone knows how to cat files, but almost everyone can open a zip.)

Of course, if you actually want to be able to work on the separate files, this doesn't work as well. This may be important if you don't have any "scratch space" to write the final file to. In that case, you should just split the file.

Here's an example of splitting a file using zip on Linux:

zip -0 -s 3g out.zip foobar

# "-0" sets the compression level to 0, or store
# "-s 3g" sets the split size to 3 GB
# Add "-r" if "foobar" is a directory
# The output will be "out.zip", and "out.z01", "out.z02", and so on...

If you're more of a GUI person, my goto has always been 7-Zip.

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As answered by others splitting the file and joining works. But the easiest solution is to use ext 2/3/4 file system for your usb drive. It the native filesystem for linux. In windows use ext2fsd for reading the data. It also support write mode. Just install the free app on windows access file, no splitting , no joining.

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Hard to see how this would help on a PS3. –  ChrisInEdmonton May 27 at 13:31

Another option not stated would be to use partitions. A USB flash drive is most often treated by the OS as a hard drive. Resize the FAT32 partition and make an exFAT (or other supporting filesystem) partition that is large enough to hold the file.

If you ever need to access the large file in place on the USB drive, this is probably the best solution. If all you need to do is transfer the file, and don't mind having to copy it to the hard drive to use it, the splitting solution is probably better.

This won't work if your USB drive is setup as a "super floppy," but this is increasingly uncommon. You can convert a "super floppy" into a hard drive format by using a partioning tool such as fdisk or gparted. But it will probably involve copying the files off, converting, copying them back, and then making the drive bootable again.

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Pretty much all my drives I use with Linux have an ext partition hidden somewhere on them. It's the best way to solve all the little problems that show up using any "non-linuxy" partition. –  jpfx1342 May 24 '14 at 18:37

Have you tried HFS+? It is the filesystem used on Macs. Don't laugh. It seems to work on the Xbox, so it's worth a try.

Get Past The 4GB File Limit On An External Hard Drive For The Xbox360

It might be implemented because it is also used on (some) iPods that are widely popular, so even M$ Xbox360 seems to read it. With appropriate software on PC, IF it works on the PS3, you'd get get a universal solution.

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Thanks I have solved the problem now with a media server, but I will keep this in mind if the problem does come up again, thanks. –  Aesir Sep 18 '12 at 19:38
This won't work on the PS3, which does not support HFS+. –  ChrisInEdmonton May 27 at 13:31

I needed to move a 15.5gb virtual environment. I removed the partition on the usb key (32GB) and made a new one that was extn4 (linux), mounted it as 32GBkey moved the file. Booted the machine that needed the file using knoppix live (linux disc), mounted the key, moved the file.

Then umounted the key, changed the partition back to vfat.

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This works – follow my steps:

  • Download WinRAR

  • Right click to the file that you want to copy and select "Add to archive"

  • On the bottom-left side of the popup box, write down split to volume size number, for example if your file is 4.63 GB you can write down 3 GB in the box, and click OK.

  • Wait for it to finish

  • Now copy all the files to USB

  • Now select the first file "XXX.part1", right click and click "Extract here"

  • It should extract your file.

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