December 16, 2019

Does NTFS Have A File Size Limit?

By Tobias Geisler Mesevage

Windows-supported operating systems rely on one of two different types of file systems: File Allocation Table (FAT) or New Technology File System (NTFS).

The file systems use a set of rules to control how data is stored and retrieved on a storage device. While both FAT and NTFS were created by Microsoft, each has different benefits and disadvantages related to compatibility, security, and flexibility.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of the NTFS file system and whether NTFS has a file size limit.


Microsoft created the File Allocation Table file system in 1977 and it is considered the most straightforward, zero frills type file system supported by Windows NT. It is the older of the two file systems and therefore isn’t as efficient or advanced. However, it does offer more compatibility with other operating systems and removable storage devices.

A FAT gets utilized most often for removable storage devices, such as digital cameras, Smart TVs, and other portable devices.

Microsoft created the New Technology File System in 1993, and it is now the most widely used file system in Windows.

NTFS was meant to become a replacement for the FAT file system, designed to improve upon FAT by increasing performance, reliability and disk space.

What does NTFS support:

  • Very large files
  • Different file permissions and encryption
  • Automatically restores consistency by using log file and checkpoint information
  • File compression when running out of disk space
  • Establishing disk quotas, limiting space users can use

While some users still take advantage of FATs simplicity, NTFS’ benefits are more far-reaching.

Benefits of NTFS

NTFS offers different enhancements and increased security:

  1. Fault Tolerance: NTFS automatically repairs files/folders in the case of power failures or errors.
  2. Security: NTFS allows you to set specific permissions to local files/folders.
  3. Compression: NTFS allows for individual compression of files and folders so you don’t slow down the system.
  4. Compatibility: NTFS is compatible with operating systems back to Windows XP. For Mac OS users, however, NTFS systems can only be read by Mac, while FAT32 drives can be both read and written to by the Mac OS.

NTFS File Size

The maximum theoretical limit on the size of an individual file is 16 EiB minus 1 KB. There is no realistic file-size or partition size limits.

Below are the NTFS limits:

  • Maximum disk size: 256 terabytes
  • Maximum file size: 256 terabytes
  • Maximum number of files on disk: 4,294,967,295
  • Maximum number of files in a single folder: 4,294,967,295

Protecting Data on NTFS or FAT Based systems

Datto offers a variety of backup and restore types to meet different recovery scenarios. One of these is known as File Restore with NTFS Permissions. It is specifically designed to restore an externally-hosted NAS share its file permissions intact.

To perform this type of restore, you must first back up a NAS share with NTFS permissions intact. This enables the contents of the selected recovery point to be shared over your network as an iSCSI target. Upon restore, all files and folders in the recovery point will include the ACL attributes (read: permissions) they had at the time of the snapshot.

To learn more about Datto restore capabilities, Request a demo of our Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions

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