Big Files = Big Issues

Here’s a reader tech question from Robbyn:

Writing with a technical question, using my MacBook Pro I’ve been trying to copy a 4.93 GB .mov file to an external hard drive. Every time I try to do this I get an error message that reads: “Sorry, the operation could not be completed because an unexpected error occurred. (Error code 0)” I’ve tried zipping the file, but still have the same problem. I’m also not sure how to split up the file without having to convert it to another format which I’d rather not do since I’m sending it to someone to edit and I’d like to have it in the raw format so as not to lose any quality.

Well Robbyn, it sounds like an issue with the file system type on your external hard drive. Now I know you are wondering what that means so let me give you a quick overview:

Windows likes to format their partitions using one of their file systems, and Macs like to use their own. Unfortunately, they really don’t get along all that well. The only file system type that really works well on both Windows machines and Macs is FAT32. However, FAT32 has a bunch of issues including being pretty poor compared to other the newer formats, and more importantly, not supporting files over 4gb in size.

Unfortunately, you are trying to copy a big file, and big files not supported.. that’s probably the problem right there. Simple solution – check if it is formatted in FAT32 and reformat to HFS+ “non-case sensitive” because you that’s really unnecessary, and “non-journaled” because it tends to be more compatible, albeit slightly less secure in cases of drive failure. This will have some repercussions though, including all files will be deleted during the reformatting process and, as you might have guessed, HFS+ drives are not supported in Windows.

Now the other issue – the drive might be formatted using the NTFS file system, which is the one Microsoft currently employs for most Windows XP machines and all later operating systems.  And the issue with NTFS, it cannot inherently be written to by Macs.  Solution – same as above.  For big files, you need to use HFS+ for make your Mac fully support NTFS using some downloads from the Internet.  I would suggest, unless you need to be able to use your drive on both a Windows and a Mac, use HFS+.

In order to do all of this on a Mac, you can follow the following steps:

  1. Open “Applications” in either your Finder, or on the Dock.
  2. Find and click on the folder named “Utilities.”
  3. In the “Utilities” folder you will find an application called “Disk Utility” – Open it.
  4. You should see something like the image below.
  5. Click on the drive you need to work on.
  6. Change the file format using the “Volume Format” drop down in the center of the screen.

Mac Disk Utility

Please ask for clarification if you need any further guidance. Best of luck.

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