What's the max number of files that can be present in a directory on a NTFS volume? Same question for a directory for FAT32 volume?

  • 1
    I seem to recall a hard limit for the root directory of both filesystems and a soft limit (disk size) for child directories.
    – lexu
    Mar 12, 2010 at 13:54
  • 2
    Ok I found one part of the answer. For FAT32: max number of files in a directory is 65,534 (The use of long file names can significantly reduce the number of available files and subfolders within a folder.) Does anyone know the answer for NTFS?
    – Gaurav
    Mar 12, 2010 at 14:03
  • 1
    According to MSDN (technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc781134(WS.10).aspx) there can be atleast 300k files in a folder. I suspect that on NTFS max files per folder is limited only by max files per NTFS vol.
    – Gaurav
    Mar 12, 2010 at 14:09

5 Answers 5


After a quick search on google I found these:


  • Maximum disk size: 2 terabytes
  • Maximum file size: 4 gigabytes
  • Maximum number of files on disk: 268,435,437
  • Maximum number of files in a single folder: 65,534


  • Maximum disk size: 256 terabytes
  • Maximum file size: 256 terabytes
  • Maximum number of files on disk: 4,294,967,295
  • Maximum number of files in a single folder: 4,294,967,295


  • 7
    "Maximum number of files in a single folder: 65,534 (FAT32)" - This limit would seem to be dependent on the length of the filenames. Specifically, if you are using LFNs (ie. not just the 8.3 short names). The short name and each 13 byte block of the LFN are stored in separate directory entries, which can greatly reduce the actual number of files that can be stored. Reference: help.lockergnome.com/windows2/…
    – MrWhite
    Nov 27, 2015 at 16:31
  • 2
    Archive of dead lockergnome link.
    – John B
    Jul 5, 2016 at 22:49

NTFS: There is no fixed limit. The maximum number of files is one upper limit. This limit is either 2^23-1 (according to many driver implementations) or 2^48 -1 (according to the MFT_REF structure). As you will have LARGE directories, you will see non-resident $BITMAP_ALLOCATION streams, a large INDEX stream. The index stream is essentially a B+ tree of file names.

FAT32: There is a difference between the root directory and sub-directories. The root has certain limitations.


The maximum number of files within a directory of a FAT file system is 65,536 if all files have short filenames (8.3 format). Short filenames are stored in a single 32-byte entry.

That means the maximum size of a direcotry (file) is 65,536 * 32 bytes, i.e. 2,097,152 bytes.

Short filenames in 8.3 format consists of 8 characters plus optional a "." followed by maximum 3 characters. The character set is limited.

If the filename is longer (Long File Name), it is spread over multiple 32-byte long entries. Each entry contains 13 characters of the filename. If the length of the filename is not a multiple of 13, the last entry is padded. Additionally there is one short file name entry for each file with long name.

2 32-byte entries are already taken by the "." and ".." entries in each directory (except root).

1 32-byte entry is taken as end marker?

So the actual maximum number of files in a directory depends on the length of the filenames.


With Windows Server 2012 R2, NTFS has exceeded 232 (slightly over 4 billion).  I am currently running a document imaging server with almost 5 million files, as shown below.  I am running NTFS and NOT ReFS, which I know can hold 264 files.  NTFS on Windows 2012 R2 can hold more than 232 files.

PS E:\> chkdsk /v
The type of the file system is NTFS.
Volume label is Data.

WARNING!  F parameter not specified.
Running CHKDSK in read-only mode.

Stage 1: Examining basic file system structure ...
  4992768 file records processed.
File verification completed.
  27 large file records processed.
  0 bad file records processed.
  • 7
    5 million < 4 billion
    – mwfearnley
    Nov 25, 2016 at 9:07

I just tried to move files to a flash drive. I don't have a count but between 64 and 128 is the max that Windows 7 will do. W7 sugests that I put the remaining files in a new directory.

  • Without information whether this refers to NTFS or FAT32, and to the root or a subdirectory, this is useless.
    – RalfFriedl
    Jan 5, 2019 at 1:30
  • 2
    64 and 128 what? It certainly isn’t 64 files. Without any documentation to backup your answer, this answer, has much to be desired
    – Ramhound
    Jan 5, 2019 at 1:41
  • I cannot truthfully say what FAT it was. Bleeping Windows! Jan 11, 2019 at 0:02
  • You could have at least told us the size of the drive and the files.
    – Wolf
    Nov 10, 2020 at 12:42

You must log in to answer this question.