Possible Problems Caused by Large Files

Tips & Tricks

Extensive calculations may result in vast amounts of data. Of course, current hard drives are measured in terabytes, and so you expect that this should be no problem for the current computing technology. This is in fact so, but as often, the devil is in the details.

In RFEM and RSTAB, the data of a model is saved in a single file. The advantage is that this results in easier handling. It is sufficient to copy just this one file containing all necessary data. If results are available, the file may become very large and difficult to handle. To explain this, we need to look at the technical background of this issue.

Data on a hard drive is always organized by means of a file system. A file system represents the order of files on a hard drive. Every file system has its technical limits regarding the size of the drives to be managed as well as the file size. The current file systems for Windows hard drives is NTFS. The limits of this file system are far beyond the range of what is technically relevant today.

However, there are also other common file systems available. They are used not just by real hard drives. SD memory cards for cameras, for example, mostly use the FAT32 and sometimes the FAT16 file system. If you plug a new USB flash drive into a Windows computer, you can either format it by using NTFS or FAT32. Sometimes, there are good reasons to format with the supposedly “outdated” FAT32 instead of the NTFS system, for example, if you want to exchange data with Apple or Linux computers.

In addition to the file systems that are most common in Windows computers, there is a whole range of others. The “old” FAT file systems have technical limitations which can in fact be reached. Thus, the maximum size of a file may not be greater than 2 GB for FAT16 and 4 GB for FAT32. These file sizes can be reached in extensive RFEM calculations. The increasingly popular file system NAS (Network Attached Storage) also has its limits.

How can we identify these problems? A typical case is that you safe a file with the results. When you reopen it, however, all the results are gone. In this case, it is worthwhile to take a look at the file system used by your hard drive.

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RFEM Main Program
RFEM 5.xx

Main Program

Structural engineering software for finite element analysis (FEA) of planar and spatial structural systems consisting of plates, walls, shells, members (beams), solids and contact elements

RSTAB Main Program
RSTAB 8.xx

Main Program

The structural engineering software for design of frame, beam and truss structures, performing linear and nonlinear calculations of internal forces, deformations, and support reactions