File System Limitation

Apparently I am only the second person on the internet to hit this error (judging by my Bing search this morning), but I thought I would share the solution in case someone else ever hits it :).

I was attempting to copy a 150 GB VHD file from one Windows Server 2008 R2 server to another, and after approximately 30 minutes, I would get the following error:

Move File

An unexpected error is keeping you from moving the file.  If you continue to receive this error, you can use the error code to search for help with this problem.

Error 0x80070299: The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation.


It turns out that the destination directory that I was copying to had NTFS compression enabled, and directories with NTFS compression enabled will not accept files over a certain size (according to this article on MSDN it is ~30GB: File Compression and Decompression).  As the file I was copying was just going to be archived, I disabled NTFS compression, zipped up the file, and copied it over with no problems.

For what it’s worth, although it was not the cause of my problem, I do see that KB 967351 mentions that this error can also be caused by a heavily fragmented hard drive.  The article also mentions compression as a potential problem, with 40-90GB as the threshold for errors:

Compressed files are more likely to reach the limit because of the way the files are stored on disk. Compressed files require more extents to describe their layout. Also, decompressing and compressing a file increases fragmentation significantly. The limit can be reached when write operations occur to an already compressed chunk location. The limit can also be reached by a sparse file. This size limit is usually between 40 gigabytes (GB) and 90 GB for a very fragmented file.

Comments (20)

  1. The true limitation has to do with the hard coded size of the file's attribute list ($ATTRIBUTE_LIST).  When you compress a file you introduce high levels of fragmentation into the file, causing the overhead involved in storing the file to be more complex. Eventually, you will reach this limitation if you have really large, compressed files.  

    For more information on how NTFS actually stores files, refer to my blog, 'The Four Stages of File Growth'.…/the-four-stages-of-ntfs-file-growth.aspx

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks. Helped me find the remedy for my problem.

  3. Gandalf50 says:

    Good tip. Thanks for posting

  4. rega10 says:

    Apparently I am the third!  thanks for the post, explained my problem.

  5. Victor O says:

    Awesome,  thanks so much for the solution.

  6. Mandy says:

    Thanks!  just hit this issue and glad to find the answer so quick

  7. Don says:

    Thanks for posting this. I ran into this twice in the past 24 hours, and after reading your post, I took a look at the drive where I was storing my VHD (It is a LUN mounted with iSCSI), and found that compression was enabled.

  8. narraal says:

    And me….. in the end the Dell Nas just hung and had to be power cycled 🙁

  9. Adrian says:

    I am getting this error when trying to run a scheduled Dedup Optimization Job. I’m yet unsure whether this is caused by a failing Veeam copySync job. I got this working again after disabling the copySync job (on the remote server) and rebooting the local
    server. But it has come back again.

  10. stephc_msft says:

    2012/2012R2 dedup, with very large files, also sometimes hits this ‘file system limitation’ issue
    Best solution is to reformat with /L as described in KB967351

  11. Ed says:

    Add to the other limitations of NTFS such as path and file name exceeding 255 characters….

  12. Diana says:

    Thankx solved my problem

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