What is (practically speaking) the maximum file size on NTFS? I have heard that it is as low as 64 GB. Can you confirm this estimate?

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Seems the FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) Department has done very well on this issue. There's a long thread in the discussion forum regarding this question, and I'm sure that the forum on this site is not the only one where the declared maximum of 64 GB for NTFS partitions is responsible for long discussion threads.

But let's get serious. No, there is no practical limitation in the partition size for NTFS. At least not unless a single partition should hold more than 18 billion GB (yes billion!) of space. I assume this will not happen within the next 2 quarters anyway. The maximum size of a volume (partition) under NTFS is 2 to the 64th power, which equals 16 binary exabytes or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes. I am only aware of a handful of companies that already host some petabytes of data, but none have reached the exabyte barrier yet. So if you like "telling examples," even the big telcos (those with the petabytes) could, theoretically host their complete data on a single NTFS volume and would still have some space left.

However, as you ask for the practical size, the answer is there is no known performance issue that could be attributed to the size of an NTFS partition so far. It seems (and this is true for other filesystems also) that they scale very well.

I don't want to go into details but there is no architectural reason in NTFS (i am talking about NTFS 5.0 that was delivered with Windows 2000 first) for any uncertainty about the scalability of this file system being worse than any other file system used in the open systems space.

Hope that helps.


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This was first published in October 2003

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