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BUG REPORT: PGP Commandline creates SDA files larger than 4GB that cannot be opened on Windows 32


Article ID: 156577


Updated On:


PGP Command Line PGP SDK


Opening a Self Decrypting Archive (SDA) gives an error "This is not a valid Win32 executable".

When attempting to decrypt PGP SDA larger then 4 GB on the Windows 32 bit platform (i.e. by double-clicking them) the error "This is not a valid Win32 executable" is issued. All other PGP SDA or Windows executables (.exe) files with smaller size can be opened properly.

"This is not a valid Win32 executable"


This is a known limitation on Windows 32bit. The maximum size of a Win32 executable is 4GB.

There is a limitation for the portable executable (PE32) and common object file format (COFF) standard introduced by Microsoft Windows operations system.

You might obtain detailed information about file formats specifications from attached file or from Microsoft Website.



Symantec Corporation is committed to product quality and satisfied customers. This issue is currently being considered by Symantec Corporation to be addressed in a forthcoming version or Maintenance Pack of the product.  Please be sure to refer back to this document periodically as any changes to the status of the issue will be reflected here.

The following is a known temporary workaround for the issue until the version/maintenance pack is released:

  • In current versions of PGP Desktop / Symantec Encryption Desktop (such as 10.2.1 and above for example) the SDA files created with a size over 4 GB include a special helper decoder application named with suffix ".decoder.exe" after the archive name. For example a large "archive.exe" and a small "archive.decoder.exe". You can launch the decoder.exe application in order to extract data from a large SDA archive.exe.
  • For SDA's created using PGP Command Line, no decoder program is created. Extraction of large SDA archives has to be done on Windows 32 bit by using PGP Desktop / Symantec Encryption Desktop software.
  • On Unix like operation systems the SDA archives with larger size can be decrypted without any issues because of a different operation system architecture
  • The issue does not occur on Windows 64 bit



Applies To

Windows 32 bit using PGP Desktop / Symantec Encryption Desktop or PGP Command Line with large PGP SDA files > 4GB.


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