Recently I made a directory with > 20,000 small mp3 files in it. Not all the files successfully copied across from my desktop computer and if I tried to add any more I received an error message similar to - 'Unable to create the file'. I assumed I had reached some sort of system limit, but I was just guessing. Samsung galaxy tab.

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    In any case creating catalog with a lot of files isn't good idea. In such way you make filesystem sloooooow. Make subfolders and sort files into them. Also it simplifies file searching. Aug 13, 2011 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


This, really, isn't an android question, it relates more to file systems.

The limitation is set by the file system. FAT32 can have 65,536 entries. Each file and subdirectory takes from two to thirteen entries, depending on the length of its name.

There is one entry that hold the Short (8.3) name of the file name. If the actual name doesn't fit that entry, then there will be one to twelve more entries, each of which holds 13 bytes of the full name.

The size of the file itself, doesn't have make a difference, unless the file is larger the 4GB, which is the maximum file size for a single file in FAT32.

You can read more on the FAT32 Spec if you wish here.

  • The size of the file itself, doesn't have make a difference, unless the file is larger the 4GB, which is the maximum file size for a single file in FAT32. I've often get problems with files bigger than 2GB on FAT32 FS. Aug 13, 2011 at 16:49
  • FAT32 can have 65,536 entries. If article in wikipedia [1] is correct, there are some moments. 1. There are different items in file system: root entry catalog, directory catalogs and entries in these types of catalogs. 2. It looks like that the number of entries is linked with cluster size. 3. All files in subdirectory is described in this subdirectory's catalog. Also we don't know what type of FS is using OP. Maybe it is FAT32, maybe ext3, or maybe NTFS (I'm really not sure does Android support it). [1] -en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table Aug 13, 2011 at 16:58
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    @George, I assumed FAT32, as he is copying files to his SDCard, while he could use extX, it is unlikely, as FAT32 is how android formats the sdcard. And AFAIK, android does not have an NTFS filesystem module. Aug 13, 2011 at 18:55
  • I've checked NTFS support status. Yes, you are right there isn't support for NTFS in stock firmwares. But if you need so, you can add it by hand. Please, look here: forum.xda-developers.com/… Also I agree with you that most common FS for memory cards is FAT32. But in Android devices there is internal storage. And it can be mounted to desktop PC when you connect Android device to PC. And what FS is used there is question. Another good link: leemn.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/… Aug 13, 2011 at 21:50
  • The only file system that android will recognize for the sdcard is FAT32. if you format it as anything, you would have to do other "tricks" with scripts to get it to mount it. I have a partition on my sdcard formated as ext3 back on my G1 so I could do apps2sd, and android does not see it as part of the sdcard. there were external scripts that were used to mount it. Aug 14, 2011 at 3:54

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