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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

exFAT (FAT64) Quickly Explained

I was trying to transfer all of my files from the tech computer at school to my desktop at home. Well, I brought my terabyte hard drive to do the job but found out that it would not be able to do so because of an error. After a quick trial and error I was able to find that the source of the error was coming from the folder containing my Blu-ray copy of Inception (Compressed 6.5+GB). I was trying to copy my files onto a MS-DOS (FAT) or FAT32 partition. For those of you who don't know why this would be a problem it is because FAT32 only allows files up to a little over 4GBs if I do remember correctly. The reason it was setup this way was so it could be read on a Windows and Mac. My desktop is running Windows XP and the Tech computer is running Mac OSX 10.6 so it needed to be able to be read on both machines. Well I found out that Disk Utility could format the disk with exFAT and after a little research I found how this would be exactly what I needed.

Here is what I found quickly paraphrased and put into understandable words:


  • It can be used for drives as large as a Zettabyte. (Don't know what that is? Neither did I. I'll explain later) 
  • It's only recommended for drives as large as 512 Terabytes. (If this isn't large enough for you let me know)
  • The largest allowed file size is 16 Exabytes (I'll explain the scale in just a second)
  • Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users must have Service Pack 2 or later and install an update to support exFAT
  • Windows Vista must be Service Pack 1 or later for exFAT support
  • Devices formatted using exFAT cannot be read by any version of Windows prior to Windows XP or by any version of DOS or OS/2 (unless emulated as otherwise).
  • It's still not being widely used and might experience some problems if used on certain devices

About three hours of sitting in the tech room and the transfer is complete. 70GB are now transfered over.


  1. Am I correct in assuming that on a Mac is the only place one can format a disk to ExFat format? I believe so, but am not positive about this. I did mine on a Mac.


    1. You can select exFat when formatting disks under Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.