File and partition size limitations using the FAT32 file system (Windows and Mac)

FAT32 offers the best compatibility for using a drive with more than one Operating System (OS) (Such as Windows and Mac OSX). However, FAT32 has inherent limitations in regards to file size, partition size, and performance.

Limitations under Windows, Mac OS 9, and Mac OSX:

  • A file cannot be transferred to a FAT32 partition if the file is larger than 4GB.
  • Apple's Time Machine backup utility will not store data on FAT32 partitions.

Limitations under Windows 8/7/Vista/XP:

  • A FAT32 partition cannot be created that is larger than 32GB.
  • A file cannot be transferred to a FAT32 partition if the file is larger than 4GB.
  • FAT32 file system performs more slowly than NTFS (Windows) or Mac OS Extended (HFS+).

Note:
When using an external drive with Windows 8/7/Vista/XP it is recommended that you reformat the drive to the NTFS file system. When using your drive with Mac OSX, it is recommended that you format the drive in the Mac OS Extended file system (HFS+). For instructions on how to change the external hard drive to the file system best for your specific OS, please see the link below:

For more information on the limitations related to the FAT32 file system, please see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 314463.


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