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Private Disk’s manual says that I can create virtual encrypted drives of terabytes in size, but when I try to create one, I am limited to 4 GB, why?
The problem is caused by the fact that the file system of the drive on which you intend to create the encrypted image is FAT32. This file system has a 'natural' limitation for the maximum file size it can handle, which is 4GB. Note that the partition itself can have a greater size, but you will not be able to create files greater than 4GB. Most often this pops up when you play with video editing software (as uncompressed video files are pretty large), or when you try to backup a DVD. Of course, the same applies to encrypted partitions created by Private Disk, since they are “just a file” that resides on your drive.
So, how to exceed the 4GB file size limit?
There is no solution to this problem, because FAT32 imposes this limitation by design. Now that you understand that, here's a workaround that is good enough for practical purposes.
You can solve the problem by converting the partition on which you intend to create the image to NTFS. NTFS is a progressive file-system, which is fault-tolerant and more efficient than FAT32, it also allows you to handle files of a greater size and provides many other improvements. Those other improvements are beyond the scope of this story, however I will make a little sub-story that explains why people are afraid of NTFS.
My observations have shown that the #1 ‘excuse’ is “but if my Windows crashes, and I boot from a floppy, I will not see my partitions and my data cannot be backed up”. That is a reasonable argument, but here’s a counter argument – since I’ve switched to Windows 2000 and then to Windows XP (to which NTFS is native), I have NEVER had the need to boot from a floppy to recover from a disaster, because there were NO disasters.
How to convert a partition to NTFS?
There are several ways to do that, for instance, you can apply third-party utilities that promise to do it without a hassle. But why pay for a program if Windows comes with a nice little tool that does the trick in no time?
Windows' native conversion utility is called convert. It works from the command prompt (don’t let that scare you), here is an example [assuming the drive letter is G:]
convert G: /FS:NTFS
press enter and watch the magic happen. If the drive you try to convert is your system drive, i.e. the disk on which the currently loaded Windows resides, you will be told that you need to restart the computer and let the conversion happen before the system loads. This is a fully automatic process, so there will be no hi-tech questions you won’t be able to handle. Just make sure that you have sufficient free space on the partition, so that there’s room for temporary files that are created during the process; note that Windows will warn you if there is not enough space on the partition.
The conversion procedure is a safe one, I have never seen it fail, but still - extra security measures will never hurt. I advise you to backup your critical data, so that in case something goes wrong during the conversion process - you will not lose any files. Either way, regular backups are a wise thing to do, and if they aren’t a part of your practice, take a look at this guide – the importance of backups: don’t wait until disaster strikes.
The screenshot illustrates the process:
1. press start\run
2. type cmd (then press enter; this will open the command prompt)
3. type convert d: /fs:ntfs (substitute d: with the letter of the partition you wish to convert, then press enter)
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