Outlook PST File – Too large for destination file system

A client was recently trying to copy a 5Gb Outlook PST (mail) file to an empty standard 16Gb memory stick but was unable to do so as Windows reported that the file was too large.

When seeing this error message most people logically assume that the message is telling them the file is too big to fit on the stick, even though they know it should be fine. The error message does actually indicate the problem. It is not the size of the stick but the format of the file system used on the stick.

Most memory sticks on the market are formatted using a FAT32 system (ie; the pattern and format in which data is written on the stick). FAT32 has been around for a long time and has a file size limitation. In short, it cannot handle files greater than 4Gb.

The solution is to reformat the memory stick using an NTFS system. Once that is done the large file will copy to it without any problems.

To achieve this:

Right Click on Computer and select Manage




Click to open Device Manager in the left pane

Open Disk Drives in the right pane

Find your memory stick

Right Click and select Properties



Click on the Policies Tab

Change it from Quick Removal to Better Performance

(Note: the requirement about Safely Removing Hardware)

Click OK

You can now close the Manage windows.

Open Computer again

Locate your Memory Stick

Right Click on it

Select Format and choose the NTFS filesystem from the drop down

When complete you will be able to use it for files greater than 4Gb in size.


Taff Lovesey





About taffybach

Author of the young adult fantasy novel series, The Portal Chronicles, including The Spider Gem and The Shimmering Gate. When not writing and promoting Taff runs a small IT support company, LITES PC based in Bourne UK.
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10 Responses to Outlook PST File – Too large for destination file system

  1. Jason says:

    I have ran into this issue before. Before you format the drive you want to copy the PST file onto, be sure to backup any data on that drive as formatting will delete the information. Yes every tech person is aware of this but just in case an end user is out there that has their only copy of their resume on the jump drive, be aware of it.

    This article ties in nicely with the error code “0x80040116” http://www.pstfilerepair.net/outlook-repair-0x80040116.php. About the 2 gig size limit placed on older versions of Outlook. Last week I ran into a person who had this issue. A simple Outlook update can resolve the issue but if the PST file is already over the 2 gig size you may have to split it first. Then apply the patch.

  2. laurie says:

    Thank you, thank you! This helped me tremendously, was tearing my hair out as to why. Gotta love google to replace tech support these days ; – )

  3. Tony says:

    Excellent… this is the best solution that I found. Crystal clear and it worked a charm. Thanks!

  4. Russell Smith says:

    Of course, NTFS is better solution over FAT 32 system for situation in which your PST file is greater than 4GB. However, if you want to minimize the size of PST file then you can use a PST file splitter software. You can see a useful utility at: http://www.slideshare.net/Smithgrace/break-or-split-pst-file-by-date-with-pst-file-splitter


  5. khalid says:

    thank you guys very useful.
    just finished my backup

  6. Khan says:

    Greetings from Pakistan – wonderful – as a layman computer user, I am abusing the shopkeeper who sold me to 16 GB USB drive as I was unable to copy outlook file of around 8.5 GB – you made my day – God Bless

  7. defacto69 says:

    thanks, never could work out why

  8. Luise says:

    Thank you very much for the instructions!
    And thanks to Jason for thinking of us end users out there! šŸ™‚

  9. Aaron says:

    Hi, I’m currently trying to copy my colleague’s .PST files onto my 2TB external HDD, which is already NTFS formatted, but still am facing the ‘archive.pst’ is too large for the destination file system.
    Is there any way I can overcome this problem? I’m not tech savvy at all so please be kind! :p

    • taffybach says:

      If you’re using NTFS then the maximum filesize isn’t an issue as it is in the TBs (256Tb for Windows 8 I believe – 16Tb for earlier version).

      A few suggestions:

      * make sure the archive file is closed
      * try copying in Safe Mode
      * try splitting the archive file into smaller chunks (ie; create a new PST file and split the existing archive file by date into two or more PSTs)

      The bottom line is that the NTFS should handle the file copy though. How big is it?

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