The Android file system limit of 4GB causes insufficient storage space errors. Learn what the limit is, why it exists, and how to permanently increase or remove it by re-partitioning, using F2FS, Link2SD, FolderMount, custom ROMs, and more.
What is the File System Limit on Android?
The file system limit on Android refers to the maximum size that the /data partition can reach.
This is usually around 3-4GB depending on the device. Once this limit is reached, users will start getting “insufficient storage space” errors and will be unable to save new apps, photos, videos, etc.
Why Does the File System Limit Exist?
This limit exists because the /data partition uses the ext4 file system which has a maximum file size of 4GB.
This archaic limit was put in place many years ago when 4GB seemed like a huge amount of storage space.
But nowadays, with large apps, high resolution photos/videos, and ever increasing storage needs, this small limit becomes a big headache for users.
How to Remove the File System Limit
Here are a few methods to increase or completely remove the file system limit on Android:
Use a Third Party App
There are some root-only apps like FolderMount and Link2SD that can help shift some of the data from the limited /data partition to the /sdcard partition which does not have this 4GB limit. This can help overcome the issue temporarily.
Partition SD Card
You can also re-partition your SD card to create a separate EXT4 partition. Then use Link2SD to link folder like WhatsApp, DCIM to this partition. This will shift the data to SD card and give you lot more space in /data partition.
Upgrade to ext3/ext2 File System
Some devices allow you to downgrade the /data partition to ext3 or even ext2 via custom ROMs. This removes the 4GB file limit, but at the cost of reducing journaling capabilities.
Format Data Partition as F2FS
F2FS (Flash Friendly File System) is a Linux system designed for NAND-based flash memory. It does not have the 4GB file limit. So formatting /data as F2FS will eliminate this file size restriction.
Increase Data Partition Size
Advanced users can re-partition the internal storage to increase the size of /data partition beyond 4GB. This will permanently remove the file size limit but requires unlocking bootloader, custom recovery, and re-partitioning safely.
Pros of Removing the Limit
- No more “insufficient storage space” errors
- Freedom to install large apps & games
- Store more photos, videos, files without worries
- Better performance as memory is not always full
Cons of Removing the Limit
- Re-partitioning has risks like data loss or bootloop
- Changing file system can reduce performance
- Custom ROMs required for some methods
- May void device warranty
Is there an easier way to fix this file limit issue?
Unfortunately most methods do require advanced technical knowledge. Using a file manager like SD Maid can help clear up storage space temporarily but the 4GB limit will still remain. Ultimately, upgrading to a newer Android phone with better storage technology is the easiest permanent solution.
Do I have to root my Android phone?
Root access is required for some solutions like using FolderMount app, downgrading file system, or re-partitioning. But other methods like using SD card partitioning or reformatting data as F2FS may work on non-rooted devices too, depending on your model.
Will I lose all my apps and data?
Re-partitioning /data will definitely wipe your data. Other methods like SD card partitions or using apps like Link2SD/FolderMount will not erase data as long as you follow instructions carefully. However, it is highly recommended to backup important data whenever altering partitions.