I have 4GB SD card that I want to put tons of small photos on for a digital photo frame but I cannot copy all the data into the root of the SD card. About half way though the copy it just fails and stops copying.

I remedied this by creating a sub directory and putting everything in that directory and was able to copy all files just fine but it's just not possible to do so in the root. It got me thinking, is this why digital cameras always save their files to sub directories on the memory cards and not the root directory?

Any reason why the root would not allow all the files but a sub directory would?


Here's a KB article on the issue: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/120138.

There is a certain file limit on the root directory of FAT file systems, which SD cards typically use. This is why camera manufacturers store them in sub-directories, as you pointed out.

  • If you want more files on it, format it as NTFS – Ivo Flipse Jul 29 '09 at 16:50
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    It's a 512 object limit for the root. If you have folders and subfolders, they count towards that total. – hyperslug Jul 29 '09 at 16:51
  • @Ivo, not sure if you want a journaling FS on a flash device, extra bit wear. – hyperslug Jul 29 '09 at 16:54
  • He wants to use this in a digital photo frame. Before formatting it as NTFS, he should make sure that the photo frame supports NTFS. No? – innaM Jul 29 '09 at 16:56
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    fat32 instead of fat16 would also help since it does not have that limit (the root directory can be fragmented like any other file). Keep in mind that a "long filename" will in most cases require 3 or more filename slots, so that 512 limit on fat16 is more theoretical. – mihi Sep 18 '09 at 17:22

There used to be a limitation on the number of files in the root directory. Perhaps this is still the case.

Searched the Web--it's true, certainly for the file systems FAT16 or older.

  • it's only true for fat12 and fat16. fat32, ntfs and all the other modern filesystes do not have that limit. – mihi Sep 18 '09 at 17:23

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