Are you receiving there is not enough free space on the drive to complete some operations on USB flash drive? If you can confirm Windows says not enough disk space but there is plenty, you can try solutions in this post.

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.

While attempting to create or transfer large files onto an USB flash drive/external hard drive, an error message may appear:” 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?

Kind remind: In most cases, this error message appears as “the file is too large for the destination file system”. And this post [Solved] – The File Is Too Large for the Destination File System tells more on this report.

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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 limit make sense?

The answer is positive. “Not enough free space on flash drive” error is caused due to the destination hard drive running an 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 4GB file creation and transfer limitation, which means that files cannot be created or transferred to the hard drive if they are larger than 4GB.

Now we know the cause for “not enough disk space but there is plenty”. Next, we will show you effective solutions to not enough disk space error – splitting large file OR converting file system and formatting hard drive.

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!

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

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 keeps your data intact. For many times we have explained their differences, thus we are not going to repeat. You can read NTFS vs. FAT32 vs. exFAT – Differences and How to Format to for more information.

Note: 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”.

1. Use Partition Wizard

The first 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.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Here is how you can operate using MiniTool Partition Wizard:

Tip: 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.

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 (you may need to drag the slider to view more).

the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard Free

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

choose Convert FAT to NTFS

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

click Start to begin

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. By doing these, not enough free space on flash drive.

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

2. Use 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. Note that you may encounter “Data error <cyclic redundancy check> “, don’t mind because the selected partition has already been converted into NTFS.

data error crc

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


  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 and cannot be converted

“Here are 2 ways to resolve there is not enough space on the disk Windows 10/8/7, and the solution is data lossless.”Click to Tweet

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.

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:

1: Format in Partition Wizard

As we have introduced in the former part, Partition Wizard do help to convert FAT32 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.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard to its main interface, then click on the USB hard drive to be formatted and select Format Partition.

Step 2: Customize the parameters in the new window. Please choose NTFS as the target File System.

Step 3: Click OK after file system selection.

Step 4: Click Apply to finish.

format USB drive with MiniTool Partition Wizard

Tip: If you regret of formatting a hard drive before you carry out any further operation to the USB drive, you can use its Data Recovery feature (available in Pro Ultimate edition) to help recover data from formatted hard drive.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

2. Format in Command Prompt

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
  • Exit

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

format partition in CMD

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 Disk Management from CMD

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

choose Format option

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.

choose NTFS file system

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.

confirm the formatting

4: Format in My Computer

My Computer (equals to This PC in Windows 10) 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.

choose Format

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

choose NTFS file system

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 will erase all data

Further Reading: What if NTFS Does Not Showing up 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.

format in Windows XP

no NTFS option in Windows XP format

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.

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 select the Hardware tab. There, find and select the removable drive in the list and press the Properties button.

go to Hardware Properties

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

optimize for 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 for you to remove “there is not enough usable space for this operation error”.

NTFS now appears in format option

“If Windows tells there isn’t enough space left on the disk to perform this operation, you can try the simple solutions in this post.”Click to Tweet

Bottom Line

In this post, we have gone through 3 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.

Now it is your turn to have a try if you are troubled by “not enough disk space but there is plenty” issue. For any suggestions and questions, you can leave a comment below or contact us via [email protected]. Thanks in advance!

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