Photoshop error: The file could not be backed up because it is larger than 2 GB

Error message Adobe Photoshop file size 2 gigabytes

Yesterday my wife was working on Photoshop files again, which had many layers and high resolution for printing. At some point while backing up I got the following error message (in English):

"The file could not be saved to PATH / FILENAME.psd because the document is larger than 2 GB."

Saving was relatively normal up to then and the percentage display of the progress when saving also increased continuously until the error suddenly appeared at the end.

If you want to save a file in PSD format in Photoshop that is larger than 2 GB, the program throws this error.

If you want to save a file in PSD format in Photoshop that is larger than 2 GB, the program throws this error.

Cause: PSD format not designed for huge files

If you search for the problem in Adobe Help, you come across it on this post, in which the following note can be found:

Like most file formats, PSD supports a file size of 2 GB or less. Save larger files in PSB (Large Document Format), Photoshop Raw (reduced images only), TIFF (up to 4 GB), or DICOM format.

The default bit depth for images is 8 bits per channel. To achieve a larger dynamic range with 16- or 32-bit images, use the following formats:

Formats for 16-bit images (only via "Save as"): Photoshop, Large Document Format (PSB), Cineon, DICOM, IFF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, Photoshop PDF, Photoshop Raw, PNG, Portable Bit Map and TIFF.

Formats for 32-bit images (only via "Save as"): Photoshop, Large Document Format (PSB), OpenEXR, Portable Bitmap, Radiance, and TIFF.

the solution of the problem

This means that if you want to save a file with more than 2 gigabytes or with a 32-bit color depth, you should use the "Large Document Format" with the PSB file extension choose.

Photoshop> File> Save As> Large Document Format

In the selection there is nothing of "PSB", but when you have saved the file, Photoshop assigns this file extension.

Using File> Save As> Large Document Format, Photoshop can also save files in PSB format that cannot be saved in PSD format.

Using File> Save As> Large Document Format, Photoshop can also save files in PSB format that cannot be saved in PSD format.

Avoid crashes: clean up the document before saving it

With such large files, however, you should be prepared for the fact that the backup process can take a long time. My wife also had more crashes because the RAM was probably running out.

A recommended procedure - also to avoid such crashes - is for the reason to clean up the Photoshop document before saving it:

  • delete unused layers
  • combine existing levels
  • Render smart objects that no longer have to be

All of these points may help reduce the file size and take the pressure off Photoshop (and the Mac) when backing up. If necessary, you can also close all other programs except Photoshop to free up more RAM.

Other causes of backup problems

With older computers or third-party media, it is possible that the hard drive or stick on which you want to back up is formatted in the "Fat32" file format. This format basically has the limitation of file sizes to a maximum of 2 gigabytes.

It is also possible that your Photoshop document is more than 300.000 pixels in height or width. Even if the final file does not exceed the 2 GB limit, you have to save the document in PSB format when you resolve it.

The orthomosaic consisted of over 200 individual photos and accordingly had a file size of well over 2 gigabytes (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

The orthomosaic consisted of over 200 individual photos and accordingly had a file size of well over 2 gigabytes (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

Practical example of problems: orthophoto by drone

I had the problem with the 2GB limit, for example when taking a picture of the course of a river that I took with the drone for an environmental agency. This orthophotography consisted of many individual images that were stitched together. Since the totaled image consisted of over 200 individual images with 24 megapixels each, the overall resolution of the orthophoto was of course immense. After initially pondering about the error message, I came up with the solution with "Photoshop, large document format (PSB)".

For the customer who did not have Photoshop and could not do much with the PSB format, the file was then published again as TIFF with and without compression.

 

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