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BEST FIX - Flash Drive Says Not Enough Free Space but There Is Plenty

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    Flash Drive Says Not Enough Space but There Is Plenty

    I'm trying to copy a large MS Outlook PST file from my work computer to a flash drive and am getting an error message saying I don't have enough free disk space.

    The drive is 8 gigs, I've got various files on there that take up ~2+ gigs, and about 5.7 gigs of space remaining. The PST file is ~5.0 gigs and has already been compressed down from ~10 gigs.

    Can anyone help me out? Seems like I've got plenty of free disk space to do this.

    Conversely, if this approach won't work, can I buy a cable of some sort that will allow me to connect two computers and transfer the file from my work PC to my home Mac?

    Any ideas?

    While attempting to create or transfer large files onto an USB external hard drive, an error message appears:"There is not enough free space on the hard drive. Delete one or more files to free disk space, and then try again." Meanwhile, Windows suggests you to click "Disk Cleanup" to free disk space by deleting old or unnecessary files, which seems exactly the same with "hard drive is full" issue. But the fact is that: there is enough free space on the drive to save these files. How could this error message appear?

    not enough free sapce error

    recommend Top Recommendation:

    In most cases, this error message appears as "the file xxx is too large for the destination file system". And this [Solved] - The File Is Too Large for the Destination File System tells more on this report.

    file too large

    Why There Is Not Enough Free Space on the Drive

    This may seem confusing, but if you try copying more other files to this external hard drive, you may find something important: you can copy the smaller files to this external drive just fine. Only when you attempt to copy a large file equal or larger than 4GB to the external drive, Windows gives you such an error.

    Does this 4GB file size make sense?

    The answer is positive. "Not enough free space on flash drive" error is caused due to the destination hard drive running a FAT32 file system. FAT32 was first established in Windows 95 and is now recognized by most computer operating systems. The total size of the files that you can copy to a FAT32 drive could be as large as 2TB, however, it has a 4 GB file creation and transfer limitation, which means that files cannot be created or transferred to the hard drive if they are larger than 4GB.

    Solutions to Not Enough Disk Space Error

    Now we know the cause for "not enough disk space but there is plenty". Next we will show you effective solutions - splitting large file, converting file system and formatting hard drive.

    solution1 Solution 1: Split Large File into 4G Chunks - No Data Loss

    If you want to remove "there is not enough free space on the drive" and transfer a large file to a removable hard drive, a solution should be breaking the large file into several parts, with each one smaller than 4GB. As to the file splitting tools, we think many software are competent to do this job, such as WinRAR, which only takes three simple steps!

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    For more information about splitting large files, you can visit How to Split a Large File with WinRAR.

    solution2 Solution 2: Convert FAT32 with NTFS - No Data Loss

    Converting FAT32 to NTFS should be the most ideal way to fix "not enough disk space on flash drive", for it's safe and time-saving. For many times we have explained their differences, thus we are not going to repeat. One point you should know is that the latter does not have the 4GB file size limitation. For other differences between FAT32 and NTFS, the post FA32 limitations states all.

    wraning Attention:

    The older versions of Windows such as Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium do not support the NTFS file system; while the recent versions of Windows like Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7/8/10 work well with the NTFS drives.

    There are two ways to convert FAT32 to NTFS. In our case, we use a 16GB USB flash drive marked as I: to show users step-by-step tutorials on fixing "not enough disk space error".

    case 2 1. Use Partition Wizard

    The second option to convert FAT32 to NTFS is to employ MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition. The reason why we recommend this freeware is that you can use it in Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, both 32 bits and 64 bits, to convert FAT32 to NTFS without entering so much commands and should finish the conversion in only a few clicks.

    Here is how you can operate Partition Wizard:

    Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard to its main interface, there you can see all your hard drives connected to your computer are listed in the middle pane.

    Step 2: Click on the USB hard drive to be converted and select "Convert FAT to NTFS".

    convert to ntfs pw

    Step 3: A new window will come out on which you should click "Start" to begin the conversion.

    start conversion

    Step 4: When Partition Wizard shows the conversion is completed, you just click "Close" to end the small window and then exit MiniTool Partition Wizard.

    This video tells how to convert FAT 32 to NTFS using Partition Wizard:


    Before you carrying out file system conversion by using Partition Wizard, we strongly recommend you to check file system to ensure nothing is going wrong.


    case 1 2. Use Convert Command Prompt

    Command prompt is also known as CMD, which is used to carry out entered commands. Normally, people use commands to automate tasks via scripts and batch files, perform advanced administrative functions, or try to solve certain kinds of Windows issues.

    Here is how to disable not enough disk space error by using command prompt:

    Step 1: press WIN+R keys to call out the Run box. In this box enter "CMD" and press "OK".

    run cmd

    Step 2: in the command window, enter "convert [drive letter] /fs:ntfs" and wait for the process to finish. Please note you may encounter "Data error <cyclic redundancy check> ", don't mind because the selected partition has already been converted into NTFS.

    convert ntfs

    Step 3: enter "Exit" to drop out the command window.

    wraning Attention:

    1.You should know that this convert command is a one-way conversion. It does not provide a way to convert the file system back to FAT32.

    2.During the process of file system conversion, you may encounter Dirty Hard Drive Error which reports: "This drive is dirty and cannot be converted. You will need to clear the dirty bit on this drive by running CHKDSK /F or allowing AUTOCHECK to run on it the next time you reboot". To fix this error, you just need to enter "CHKDSK /F" as suggested and then repeat the convert command.

    the drive is dirty

    solution3 Solution 3: Format FAT32 with NTFS - Absolute Data Loss

    The third solution we put forward is to format the external hard drive to NTFS partition. Windows itself offers the NTFS format option. You can format the drive with the NTFS system and use it to disable "there is not enough free space on the drive" and then transfer large files.

    wraning Attention:

    Formatting FAT32 to NTFS will definitely cause data loss. Thus, you had better make a full backup of the USB drive before you carry out this formatting. However, if nothing is important, just go ahead.

    There are four ways to format FAT32 with NTFS. Also take drive I: for example:

    case 4 1: Format in Partition Wizard

    As we have introduced in the former part, Partition Wizard do help to convert FAT 32 to NTFS file system without data loss. Besides, it is also competent in formatting hard drives as it offers concise interface and multiple formatting options.

    Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard to its main interface, there you can see all your hard drives connected to your computer are listed in the middle pane.

    Step 2: Click on the USB hard drive to be converted and select "Format Partition".

    Step 3: Customize the parameters in the new window. Please choose NTFS at File System.

    Step 4: Click "Apply" to finish.

    format in partition wizard


    1.Partition Wizard can help to backup the external hard drive as well as Windows system disk. Its Copy Disk feature is designed to do this.
    2.If you regret of formatting a hard drive before you carry out any further operation to the USB drive, you can use MiniTool Power Data Recovery to help recover USB hard drives.

    case 1 2. Format in Diskpart

    Step 1: Press WIN+R keys to call out the Run box, then type "diskpart" to pop up the Disk Management window. Note you may need to allow User Account Control.

    run diskpart

    Step 2: In the command window, type the following commands in order, and end each one with Enter key:
    "List volume";
    "Select volume n" (n is the volume number of your external hard drive);
    "Format fs=ntfs quick";

    For a more intuitive guide, please refer to this screenshot:

    format to ntfs

    case 2 3: Format in Disk Management

    Disk Management is another utility that can be used to convert FAT32 to NTFS, and is easier to operate than using Diskpart.

    Step 1: Press WIN+R keys to call out the Run box, then type "diskmgmt.msc" to popup the Disk Management window.

    run diskmgmt

    Step 2: Right click on the hard drive you want to convert and choose "Format".

    format in disk management

    Step 3: In the popup window, specify the file system as NTFS, and change the volume label and the cluster size by your needs. Also, you may want to check the Perform a quick format option, which should speed up the formatting process considerably.

    format ntfs in disk management

    Step 4: Windows will warn you all data on this drive will be erased. Just click OK if you have already made a backup in advance. The formatting will begin immediately and finally you will get a NTFS external hard drive.

    formatting warning

    case 3 4: Format in My Computer

    My Computer is a location that all drives connected to this computer with drive letter are shown, and users can open them directly to manage files in each partition. To format a partition with NTFS file system, you just do the following steps:

    Step 1: Double click the Computer icon to load the hard drives. Then right click on the partition you want to convert to NTFS and choose "Format".

    format in my computer

    Step 2: In the pop-up window, select NTFS as the formatting option. Then press Start button.

    choose ntfs

    Step 3: Windows should warn you about erasing all data on the drive. Again, if you confirm that you want to proceed with the formatting, click OK.

    formatting warning

    tip What if NTFS Does Not Show in Format Option?

    If you are using Windows XP, you may find Windows does not offer NTFS as a format option in the drop down menu.

    formatting in winXP
    no ntfs option

    Why there is no NTFS option?

    This may happen if your flash drive is treated by Windows XP as a removable drive. Generally speaking, all external drives are treated as removable disk, unless you set removable drives as local drives. For the local drives Windows XP offers the NTFS format option right from the start, but for removable disks, NTFS is not showing up in the format option.

    recommend Read and learn How to Set Removable Drive to Local Drive.

    But there is still a way to fix this bug - not going for another OS of course. Please follow the guidance below:

    Step 1: Under My Computer, right-click on the removable drive and select Properties from the shortcut menu. Then in the new window please select the Hardware tab. There, find and select the removable drive in the list and press the Properties button.

    set hardware properties

    Step 2: On the next screen, select the Policies tab, and there select the Optimize for performance option:

    optimize performance

    Step 3: Now press OK for several times to close these windows, and try to format the drive again. This time, the NTFS option should appear in the list:

    NTFS appear



    In this post, we have gone through three ways to cope with "not enough disk space error": to split large files to smaller chunks, to convert FAT32 to NTFS and to format external hard drive to NTFS file system, with detailed steps and the explanations to related issues. If you are troubled by "not enough disk space but there is plenty" issue, you can try these solutions. For any suggestions and questions, you can leave a comment below to help us make progress. Thanks in advance!