We have a CIFS share being served out by a NETAPP appliance. The CIFS share has grown to over 2 TB in size. A Windows Server 2003 32 bit-client accesses the share.

Lets say, for example, the CIFS share grew to 3 TB in size. Would the Windows Server 2003 32-bit client be able to access and utilize all 3 TB or would it only be able to utilize 2 TB? I am asking because I know there are 2 TB disk storage limitations with W2K3 32-bit however I dont believe it applies to the CIFS protocol (more generally, NAS storage).

Thanks in advance!

3 Answers 3


I don't think there is such thing as CIFS share size limit.

  • I dont think so either however an application running on a W2k3 box conincidentally complained of running out of disk space on a CIFS share upon reaching the 2 TB mark. I think it is just a conincidence, perhaps an application limitation. I can write to the volume via UNC path from the OS so that leads me to believe there is also no CIFS share size limitation however I am looking for concrete documentation that tells me so.
    – user104997
    Dec 27, 2011 at 18:11

I have an 18TB samba share and our XP clients use it just fine.


CIFS doesn't have any filesystem size limits in and of itself. Thus it should not have any issues as the size of the filesystem as a whole won't have a bearing on the client's ability to use the share.

There are internal limits on the server however. These are typically very high unless running old software. The clients might also have filesize limits that are smaller than that of the server. These all depend on the various versions of Linux, CIFS, and Windows in use on the server and the clients.

There are features that allow artificial limits to be placed, such as quotas - but these are peripheral to the original query.

As with @Sven, I have a 17TB Samba share being shared with various clients (Win8/Win7/WinXP/Ubuntu/Fedora/CentOS) with no filesize issues.

Peripheral explanation:

The 2TB 32-bit limitations seen elsewhere are to do with addressability. Consider a simple address example:

You tell a taxi you want to go to an address on a road with 150 houses (compare 3TB) but the taxi driver only understands numbers with up to two decimal digits (compare 32 bits - binary digits). This means the taxi driver can only deliver you to houses 1 through 99 (compare 2TB). You can use the road - but not to the full.

From the above, with a 3TB drive on an old system, it will only see the first 2TB of the disk. FAT32, for example, can only handle volumes up to 2TB in size and a maximum file size of 4GB. On the other hand, more modern filesystems can handle much larger sizes, far beyond the largest current physical disk sizes.

With CIFS/Samba, the scenario becomes a little silly - but nonetheless:

Instead of asking for the street and number, the taxi driver is really smart and simply asks for the name of the house (file) you want to visit. Then, instead of driving you to the house, he does all the hard work of figuring out exactly where the house is and delivers a copy of the house to you! Hence the size limits are based on how big a house you can handle, rather than how long a street.

The client computer never actually knows where on the server's disk the files are stored. It only deals with the actual content that the server sends. Thus the filesystem size becomes irrelevant to the user.

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