ISO DVD-ROM discs and 2GB limitation

Hello, there!

Please let me ask you a question. Almost everywhere I read complaints about creating DVD-ROM discs and the 2GB burning limitation of ISO images. My question is, what is the big deal about it? Isn’t it possible to first burn 2GB and then burn another 2GB to end up with a 4GB DVD-ROM disc? Let’s say that I want to create a DVD-ROM disc full of MP3’s with folders (albums) and subfolders (songs from an album). So, let’s suppose that I start burning my ISO image with 2GB and stop in the middle of a subfolder (songs from an album) due to the limitation. However, isn’t it then possible to come back and burn an additional 2GB so as to restart where I left, that is, right in the middle of the subfolder (songs from an album)? I imagine this is possible and not very complicated to do.


CAL “DiscoMak”

The iso 9660 filesystem has a limitation on the size of file which is 2gb. However this just limits the size of idevidual files you can burn in iso format. It does not however stop you from packing a dvd-r burnt with a iso 9660 file system up with files smaller to the max capacity.
The newer versions of UDF can handle file sizes upto and beyond the capcity of dvd recordable media but he most comon UDF 1.02 used in DVD-Video discs has a max filesize limitation of 1gb.
Hence why vobs are plit into files just under 1gb

I think there is confusion here .

An ISO file is a disk image in a file & can be burned as an image to a CD/DVD.The limit for a DVD being 4.5GB.
The 2GB limit you refer to is when you create a data disk & copy the ISO file to the disk.

In your case you create your mp3 disk image , upto 4.5GB, and use an image burning program (Nero/Roxio or DVD Decrypter/Imgburn) to burn that image to a DVD.

I hope this clarifies it a bit for you.

Dear TimC,

Thank you for your response.

I am sorry, but I am now more confused. Okay, let’s say that I create MP3’s in folders (albums) and subfolders (songs from albums), but not just from CD discs but from cassettes and vinlyls as well. Can I still create a Data Iso DVD-ROM disc by burning 4.5GB directly, without going 2GB first then another 2GB, etc.?

Do I understand correctly that the limitation of 2GB is when I want to create the image on my hard drive of my computer and not when I want to burn it?

Take care,

CAL “DiscoMak”


Certainly not my intention to further confuse you.

The 2GB limit refers to a single file. You cannot burn a file of greater than 2gb to a data DVD without using some of the newer data formats.

Also unless you are using NTFS as your disk file system you are limited to 4gb (or less) for a single file. With NTFS there is not real limit for a single file other than the free space on the disk.

An ISO file is an image of a disk & that file cannot exceed the capacity of the disk you want to burn. However, this is not a data disk, you burn the image onto the DVD. In Nero , Roxio etc there are special functions to do this.

When you create a data disk ( or MP3 disk) you create the compilation (dragging the folders/tracks etc into it) & burn that directly to the DVD disk without creating an image (ISO file).

When I use Nero I use the Express interface as I don’t have to think about what format of disk I’m going to use. I would just select DVD & music & mp3 disk and create my compilation.

So forget images for now as it’s really not necessary to go through that stage.

Has that made it any clearer?


Dear Tim,

Yeah, I now understand what you mean, so thank you a lot, but my original question still remains: why do people complain about the impossibility of burning a file greater than 2GB when it comes to a data DVD-ROM disc via ISO file system? Again, if I want to end up with a 3GB data DVD-ROM, I can easily burn 2GB first, and then burn the final 1GB in my next session. So I don’t comprehend the rationale of those people that complain.

As for my MP3 example, I used that as an example only. What I am actually interested in is in putting WAV files onto a data DVD-ROM disc. So please let me rephrase my question. According to your settings in Nero, is it possible to record this WAV DVD-ROM disc without using any ISO images?

Please, folks, I don’t want to start a controversy here on whether it’s wise or not to record WAV files on a DVD-ROM disc versus recording MP3’s, Ogg Vorbis, etc. According to my mathematics, I can fill up a DVD-ROM disc with about 6.5 hours (6 hours and 30 minutes) of WAV files, so that’s more than enough for me.

Thanks very kindly,

Carlos Albert L. “DiscoMak”

Ok, let’s cover the two possibilities here. You’re still a wee bit confused, but that’s ok. :slight_smile:

There are TWO limitations that people moan about with “ISO”. I’ll break them down:


This refers to an image of a disc. When you rip a disc to your hard drive, you can either rip the individual files on the disc, OR you can rip one big file that contains all the data from the disc. This file is often called an ISO file - since that’s the most popular format for the file. However, many people can’t put a file the size of a DVD onto their hard drives. If you use FAT32, you’re limited to 4GB under Windows XP/2k, less under Windows ME and even less under Windows 98. That’s problematic considering that most dual-layer discs are between 7 and 8 gigs in size!


In this case, you can’t put a SINGLE FILE bigger than 2GB onto a DVD. This is almost never a problem. I don’t have many 2GB files floating around, do you? You can easily put 4GB of files onto a DVD in one shot - so long as none of the files INDIVIDUALLY is more than 2GB.

While I imagine that SOME people might have big ol’ archives that they want to put on a DVD that are 3GB in size… it’s pretty rare really. Most of the time when you hear people complaining, it’s either because their program spit out a big ol’ MPEG file that’s too darn big to put on an ISO disc, or else they’re talking about not being able to rip ISO files onto their hard drive… or not being able to BUILD an ISO file and then burn it to DVD.

For example, my preferred method for shrinking a DVD is to shrink it to an ISO file and then burn it with DVD Decrypter, something I couldn’t do under Win98/ME, or with a FAT32 filesystem on my hard drive.

Does that clear things up?

Hello, Gurm!

Excellent explanation! Wow! make the whole thing look really easy. And many thanks to TimC as well for giving the first inputs.

Gurm, you are mentioning some limitations of Win98/ME when it comes to ISO filing and DVD Decrypter. Does this extend to Win2000 as well? Please let me know.

Until soon,

Carlos Albert Lacaye

No, since Windows 2000 can use the NTFS file system, which does not have the 4GB limitation. You can right click your hard drive, hit Properties, and see if it uses FAT32 (has the 4GB limit) or NTFS (doesn’t have the 4GB limit). If you’re running Windows 2000 and only have a drive formatted with the FAT32 filesystem, you’ll still have the limitations like in Win98/ME.

BUT----!!>>>>>>WHY put WAV files onto a CD or DVD!?
MP3 is the way to GO----Put your MP3s into a Folder or Folders. Make sure its about 4.3Gbt or Less n Burn to DVD-R as DATA…You can either Rip as 128 or 192 if you are Ripping… 128 I use…This way you can Play that DVD-R in your PC, your Home DVD Player (if it plays mp3) (mine does), your car mp3 player, etc., etc., etc.,
You can also put that DVD-R into your DVDRom Drive, open Nero n Burn a number of Music CDs from it. Nothing more simpler than that is there!!!

Put MP3 files onto a CD? Wonderful idea if you have a player that will handle them. Many (most) people don’t. I sure don’t.

good explanations by Gurm, tehGrue, and TimC


  • Fat32 file size limitation…
    under Win2K/XP = 4GB
    under Win98/ME = 2GB

  • If you have many mp3s that you want to load onto CD, and use in an mp3 player - you would burn that CD as a Data CD, not an AudioCD…i certainly would not and do not - can’t stand lossy compression - however in certain circumstances, i may - if i only had some cheapo mp3 playback device that couldn’t even recognized those lost frequencies/data from the LOSSY compression.

  • An ISO image (blahfile.iso) can be directly burned to CD/DVD - using Nero or another to create the ISO - Creating is easy (select “Image Recorder” from Recorder menu - don’t forget to reselect the actual Burner when burning) - in Nero, you’ll have a .NRG instead of ISO file, that’s Nero’s proprietary format. (i think i got that right - open for corrections ;))

I was under the impression that ME had a slightly larger maximum filesize than 98… but that could just be something I read on a forum somewhere, I avoided ME like the plague.

so did I :wink:
but not that i’m aware of - it’s still the same legacy DOS based (they actually call it 8.0, instead of 98’s 7.1, 7.0, 6.22, etc), but minus half the true DOS (no Config.sys, or Autoexec.bat - and forget about Booting into DOS or using Startup Menu, and the useful functions – you needed to make a special DOS disk) …plus the horrid GUI (Screwed Explorer - and mumble jumble of Msinfo32, MSCONFIG, and SFC), and the nasty introduction/implementation of system restore and a Classes.dat file instead of the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT key (and some other diffs, but i never used it).
interesting quick ME read

oh i forgot to add something in last post (#12)

i had stated

  • An ISO image (blahfile.iso) can be directly burned to CD/DVD…
    to add;
    use the “Burn Image” function in Nero, when burning an ISO file – an .NRG file can be double-clicked to burn it, since it’s a Nero archive already – i know newer users can be a bit confused about that - and they end up just copying the ISO to a CD/DVD.

? ? ? Most cd players will handle mp3 and wav files. Only the low end and outdated players don’t. I picked up a cd player last year for $60 (can) that handles mp3s easily. It makes it easy to listen to music at work without luging my whole cd wallet with me. Also any hame dvd player made now will handle these files as well. Again at a reasonable price.