View Full Version : Ext HDD for use with Mac & PC?

Mar 4, 2012, 09:05 PM
This Seagate HDD


Say's this

Works interchangeably on both PC and Mac® computers

Whether you have a PC or a Mac® computer–or if you go back and forth between the two–you can access and save files on the same portable hard drive anytime without reformatting*.
*Reformatting to HFS+ required to use backup software for Mac or Time Machine® software

Any idea how this does it? Can I do it with any HDD? Need a 1TB one and need to transfer data from my Macs at home to my PC in my office. Any suggestions?

Edit: will not be using it as a Time Machine HDD

Mar 4, 2012, 09:07 PM
You can use any available external HDD for Mac OS X and Windows, as it comes down to its format.
exFAT might be the best suited nowadays.


Overview of the four major file systems (called "Formats" in Mac OS X) used on Windows and Mac OS X, compiled by GGJstudios (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=14053155&postcount=2). You can use Disk Utility (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU.html) to format any HDD to your liking.

Any external hard drive will work with PCs or Macs, as long as the connectors are there (Firewire, USB, etc.) It doesn't matter how the drive is formatted out of the box, since you can re-format any way you like. Formatting can be done with the Mac OS X Disk Utility, found in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Here are your formatting options:

FAT32 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat32#FAT32) (File Allocation Table)

Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
Maximum file size: 4GB.
Maximum volume size: 2TB
You can use this format if you share the drive between Mac OS X and Windows computers and have no files larger than 4GB.

NTFS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ntfs) (Windows NT File System)

Read/Write NTFS from native Windows.
Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
To Read/Write/Format NTFS from Mac OS X, here are some alternatives:
For Mac OS X 10.4 or later (32 or 64-bit), install Paragon (http://www.paragon-software.com/home/ntfs-mac/) (approx $20) (Best Choice for Lion)
For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (http://macntfs-3g.blogspot.com/2010/10/ntfs-3g-for-mac-os-x-2010102.html) (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
For 64-bit Snow Leopard, read this: MacFUSE for 64-bit Snow Leopard (http://www.offthehill.org/articles/2010/12/31/macfuse-for-64-bit-snow-leopard/)
Some have reported problems using Tuxera (http://www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-for-mac/) (approx $36).
Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and Lion, but is not advisable, due to instability.
AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support NTFS
Maximum file size: 16 TB
Maximum volume size: 256TB
You can use this format if you routinely share a drive with multiple Windows systems.

HFS+ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HFSMarch) (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)

Read/Write HFS+ from native Mac OS X
Required for Time Machine (http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-macosx/time-machine.html) or Carbon Copy Cloner (http://www.bombich.com/) or SuperDuper! (http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html) backups of Mac internal hard drive.
To Read/Write HFS+ from Windows, Install MacDrive (http://www.mediafour.com/products/macdrive/)
To Read HFS+ (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer (http://www.catacombae.org/hfsx.html)
Maximum file size: 8EiB
Maximum volume size: 8EiB
You can use this format if you only use the drive with Mac OS X, or use it for backups of your Mac OS X internal drive, or if you only share it with one Windows PC (with MacDrive installed on the PC)

exFAT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exfat) (FAT64)

Supported in Mac OS X only in 10.6.5 or later.
Not all Windows versions support exFAT. See disadvantages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exfat#Disadvantages).
exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT)
AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support exFAT
Maximum file size: 16 EiB
Maximum volume size: 64 ZiB
You can use this format if it is supported by all computers with which you intend to share the drive. See "disadvantages" for details.



Links to guides on how to use Disk Utility, the application Mac OS X provides for managing internal and external HDD/SSDs and its formats.
Guide on how to use Disk Utility from the restore / installation DVD. (http://kb.wisc.edu/helpdesk/page.php?id=3810)

Using Disk Utility - Formatting, Partitioning, Verifying, and Repairing Disks (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU.html)
which includes:

Format, Erase, or Reformat a Drive (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU1.html)
Erase or Reformat a Partition (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU2.html)
Add a Partition (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU3.html)
Deleting and Resizing Partitions (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU4.html)
Disk Formats (http://Pondini.org/OSX/DU8.html)

and some more guides

DiskWiping – One Pass is Enough (http://www.anti-forensics.com/disk-wiping-one-pass-is-enough)

Mar 4, 2012, 09:16 PM
Thanks a bunch. That's very informative.

So, do you think that Seagate is advertising using the drive in FAT32 mode? Or have they included [for free] some of the software that allows cross read/write of NTFS/MAC OS Ext systems?

Mar 4, 2012, 09:21 PM
Thanks a bunch. That's very informative.

So, do you think that Seagate is advertising using the drive in FAT32 mode? Or have they included [for free] some of the software that allows cross read/write of NTFS/MAC OS Ext systems?

The first. But again, you can format any HDD any way you like.

Mar 4, 2012, 09:26 PM
Thanks. I think I'll try the HFSExplorer. It's a one time transfer of my music from home to my office PC.

Mar 4, 2012, 09:50 PM
they are using fat32. in fact, majority of ext hdd are initially formatted as fat32 for compatibility across platforms. exfat is the format that looks to replace fat32.

Mar 5, 2012, 12:31 AM
Woah. I just learned something new in this thread. And I thought I was just going to see a bunch of links pointing to http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/