“No space left on device” error on empty drives

It may occur that when you try to copy files from your hard disk to an external device such as an external HDD or a USB key, you get an error stating that there was no free space left on your device although you just erased everything from it to make some. This is most likely due to limitations of the file system your drive uses - newer drives might already use the NTFS file system while older will still use FAT32 or even FAT16.

The thing is that FAT32 formatted drives only support files up to a maximum size of 4GB - for example if you try to put an image file of 6 GB onto an external, FAT32 formatted hard drive of 320 GB with 100 GB of those still free and not in use, the copying will fail. To change this, you have to format the target drive to the NTFS file system.

Formatting will erase all data on a drive, so backup everything you have on it beforehand. Afterwards, right-click the drive in your file browser and choose Format....

On the appearing window, there will likely be an FAT file system on the File System drop-down menu (if it already says NTFS there, this guide won't solve your problems). Before you change anything, double-check that you picked the right drive. Then change the file system to NTFS and click Start.

4 thoughts on ““No space left on device” error on empty drives”

  1. This is a 500gb WD MyBook. There is 450+ gb free on the storage device. Yet it gives me the error that it cannot save files because there is not enough disk space. It is connected to a Dell laptop with about 3-4 gb free space.

    • What is the MyBook’s file system (see in the drive’s properties)? Have you installed all the needed drivers correctly? What kind of files are you trying to save, what quantity and size are they? Furthermore you should always try to keep a bit more space on your laptop’s hard drive empty, otherwise it will run sluggish and maybe even cause problems.

  2. hy i am having a problem with the harddisk . In my desktop pc there is harddisk of 250gb and its all in red is say no space on your harddrive when i save file when i entered and selected all to see the properties its almost 50gb the space oocupied by the file the remaning 200 is free but harddisk is in red and say no space i donot know what is happening so any can help me plzzzz .. thnx

  3. Also experienced this thing on my HD. I really don’t know how why this is happening. Thought it was a virus or something.


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