Computer

How much can occupy, at most, a file? find it out

Currently, the number of file systems in Windows has been reduced to three: FAT32, exFAT and NTFS. Each one has a different purpose depending on the type of unit we want to use as long as we want to get the most out of the storage it offers us.

FAT32 for older devices

The FAT32 file system officially hit the market with the release of the second major update to Windows 95. This file system uses 32-bit cluster addresses (although only 28 of them are functional).

This file system offers us a series of limitations that reduce its use to older computers and external storage units, since it only allows us to create partitions of a maximum of 2 TB, a limitation similar to the one we have traditionally found with versions of 32 and 64 bits of Windows, where depending on the version, the computer was not able to take advantage of all the RAM memory of the device.

Along with the maximum size of 2 TB when creating partitions, another limitation of this file system is found in the maximum file size. Storage units with this file system can only store files with a maximum of 4 GB.

As for the number of folders that can be created on a drive with this file format, there is no limitation. The limitation is found in the maximum number of files that can be managed on the hard drive, a number that cannot exceed 268,173,300.

The folders are nothing more than simple file cabinets where the information that is stored is classified, it is, we could say, the shelf where all the files (books) of a library are stored and classified.

exFAT for file sharing

The evolution of FAT32 is exFAT. This file system is, we could say, the draft of what later became NTFS. The exFAT file system was designed for use on portable storage drives and is still the most widely used and recommended format today.

It is the most recommended for external storage units since it is compatible with all operating systems, from Windows to macOS, through Linux and Android, which allows users to read in these storage units from different operating systems, a functionality that it is not available on either FAT32 or NTFS.

However, we should not use it on storage drives that are managed by the Windows operating system, as it is not optimized in the signature way that the NTFS file system is.

Regarding the maximum size of the files that we can store in exFAT units, we have to talk about a 16 Exabyte maximumthe same limit that we find in NTFS, which we will talk about in the next section.

NTFS to get the most out of it

The NTFS file system is the one used today on all computer equipment, regardless of the size of its storage unit. In this way, we can work with any type of file exceeding the maximum limit of 4 GB that FAT32 offers us.

The maximum size of files that is capable of storing and managing the storage units with the NTFS file system is 16TB.

Regarding the size of the storage unit, with the NTFS format we are also going to find a substantial difference compared to FAT32, since it is capable of managing storage units of up to 16 EB as long as we use a version of Windows of 64 bits, otherwise we will find ourselves with the same limitation of FAT32.

To avoid these kinds of issues, with the release of Windows 11, Microsoft stopped releasing a 32-bit version of its operating system. Windows 10 was the last version of Windows to hit the market in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Maximum file size on Linux

Linux uses a different file system than the one we can find in Windows, a file system that, like those available in Windows, has different limits depending on the format used.

ext2

The ext2 file system came out in 1993 when GBs were a thing of the future, just like TBs. However, this file system offered support for files up to 2TBallowing to store a maximum of 1018 files, an amount much higher than what we could find in MS-DOS and later in iOS.

ext3

The evolution of ext2 was ext3 (1999), a new file format that offered greater speed and scalability. In addition, it allowed updating from the ext2 file system without losing the stored data, since it was not necessary to format the drive.

The maximum size of a file on Linux with the ext3 file system is 2 TB while the maximum file system size is 32 TB.

If we talk about directories, with ext3, the maximum number of directories that can be created with this file system is 32,000.

ext4

In 2008 the ext4 file system was introduced, which is currently used by most current Linux distributions. As with the introduction of ext3, you could change the file system to ext4 without having to format the drive and lose all data.

The maximum number of directories that we can create on a unit with the ext4 file system goes from 32,000 for ext3 to 64,000, just double that.

The maximum size of a file in ext4 increases from 2 TB of ext3 to 16 TB, while the maximum size of the file system is 1 EB, for 32 TB of ext3.

And in other operating systems?

On Android, until 2020, the maximum size of a file was limited to 4 GB, a limit that Google took care of expand up to 32GB (using system storage) due to the needs of manufacturers to allow the user to record videos in 4K quality, videos that until now were divided into blocks of 4GB files, forcing the user to join them with a video editing application.

If we use a memory card to store the data, depending on its FAT32 or exFAT file system, the maximum size is 4GB or 2TB respectively.

Apple has always been characterized by following its own path. If we talk about file systems, it was not going to be less. In 2019, it released a new file system called APFS which is available on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

This file system allows you to work with files with a maximum of 2 EBallows you to create partitions of up to 7.5 EB and manage up to 4 billion files per partition.

How to share large files

When we want to share large files, the easiest method is to use an external storage unit. But, when we want to share it with other people through the internet, we can use one of the different options that we show you below.

WeTransfer and alternatives

When it comes to sharing large files, the easiest solution is to use WeTransfer, the most popular platform for sending large files and which, moreover, does not require registration to use it.

The free version allows send files up to 2 GB while the paid version extends that limit up to 20 GB.

Cloud storage platforms

If we take into account that nowadays we all have an email platform that offers us storage in the cloud, this is undoubtedly the best and easiest option to share large files, since there is no maximum maximum limit beyond what we have contracted.

Once we have uploaded the file that we want to share to the storage platform that we use, we just have to click with the right mouse button and select Share or Copy link to send it to the person we want to send it to.

Email is not an option

Most email platforms limit the maximum size of files we can send to 20 MB. If we want to send a video by images in its original resolution, using an email account is not an option.

Telegram

The Telegram multiplatform messaging platform is an interesting option when it comes to sharing files with a 2GB maximum limit. The problem is that both the upload and the subsequent download are a bit slow, so you have to be patient.

FTP server

Creating an FTP server for both Windows and Linux is an option to keep in mind because what you need is immediate access and downloading or sharing of large files.

FTP servers allow you to create user lists to limit access to all or part of the available content.

P2P

If it is about sharing video files recorded with your smartphone, projects that occupy several GB and none of the options that we have shown above, satisfy your needs, the last free option that we have at our disposal is to use P2P networks.

Curiosities about the size of the files

Below, you will find the answer to questions that you have probably asked yourself at some time and that are related to the size of Windows files.

Maximum size of a ZIP

The maximum size a zip file can be depends on the file system that the computer you are creating from is using.

If the device uses FAT32, although the file to be compressed takes up more space, the application will divide the created files into 4GB blocks. But, if the computer is using NTFS, the maximum file size is 16 EB, the same size that this file format is capable of handling.

How big is a text document?

The maximum size of a text file, depending on whether it is plain text (txt) or rich text (Word), varies considerably.

A document with 1000 words in Word format is about 18 KB. The same document, in flat format without formatting, occupies 4 KB, 4 times less.

Windows largest file

Windows, like Linux and macOS, is made up of a large number of files that work together so that everything works much more smoothly and quickly.

If you count on the files of updates, temporary files and others, the maximum size of the files found in Windows is very few occasions exceeds 15MB.

Which file system to choose?

Each file system is focused on different uses, although obviously we can use the one we like the most, although it is not recommended. In fact, Windows limits the available format options depending on the storage capacity of the drive.

Flash drive up to 16 GB

The FAT32 system is the recommended file system to use in pendrive-type storage units up to 16 GB of storage.

Storage units with such little capacity are focused on being used with old equipment that offers us support for drives with other formats, so it is the recommended option for computers with old operating systems that are not compatible with NTFS.

Storage drives up to 128 GB

If we talk about storage units of up to 128 GB, the best option, due to its compatibility with the most used operating systems, is to use exFAT, as long as our intention goes through connect it to different computers.

It is not recommended to use FAT32 due to the limitations it offers us in terms of maximum file size (4 GB), although we can use it sporadically if we want to connect the external storage unit to an old computer.

internal hard drives

Although the advantages offered by the exFAT format are practically the same as NTFS, Windows recommends the latter format to use as a base to install Windows on any computer in order to have access to all storage capacity that it offers together with the possibility of being able to work with files of more than 4 GB.

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