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Old Oct 30, 2012, 12:58 AM   #1
ohla313
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Formatting External Drive?

I am running Mountain Lion and would like to transfer big files from my MBA to an external drive. I want this drive to be able to be read on Windows and Macs so I formatted it using MS-DOS FAT32. The problem is, it limits file sizes to 2GB I think. How can I maintain the compatibility but move huge files? I am fine with reformatting the drive if it is a new format I need to be able to do this.

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Old Oct 30, 2012, 01:34 AM   #2
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I am running Mountain Lion and would like to transfer big files from my MBA to an external drive. I want this drive to be able to be read on Windows and Macs so I formatted it using MS-DOS FAT32. The problem is, it limits file sizes to 2GB I think. How can I maintain the compatibility but move huge files? I am fine with reformatting the drive if it is a new format I need to be able to do this.

Thanks!
I don't deal with Windows so I always format my external drives as Guid partition table, HFS+ Journaled. This means I can make them bootable if I want to. For sharing with Windows, you might consider NTFS but there are some limitations for OSX writing to NTFS.

I don't personally use it or know anything about it other than it shows up in the first page of google results, but there is software available for 25e called Tuxera that allows Mountain Lion to read and write NTFS.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 09:56 AM   #3
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I don't deal with Windows so I always format my external drives as Guid partition table, HFS+ Journaled. This means I can make them bootable if I want to. For sharing with Windows, you might consider NTFS but there are some limitations for OSX writing to NTFS.

I don't personally use it or know anything about it other than it shows up in the first page of google results, but there is software available for 25e called Tuxera that allows Mountain Lion to read and write NTFS.
If I format an external drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) can it still be readable by Windows as well?
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 09:57 AM   #4
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If I format an external drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) can it still be readable by Windows as well?
Only with additional software:

____________________________________________________________

Overview of the four major file systems (called "Formats" in Mac OS X) used on Windows and Mac OS X, compiled by GGJstudios. You can use Disk Utility 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:

HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)
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 (approx $20) (Best Choice for Lion)
    • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
    • For 64-bit Snow Leopard, read this: MacFUSE for 64-bit Snow Leopard
    • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (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.

exFAT (FAT64)
  • Supported in Mac OS X only in 10.6.5 or later.
  • Not all Windows versions support exFAT. See disadvantages.
  • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
  • 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.

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.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 06:41 PM   #5
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If I format an external drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) can it still be readable by Windows as well?
Sorry I didn't make that plain as I intended when I said "I don't deal with Windows." So no, you can't read or write HFS+ partitions from Windows (without some sort of additional software for Windows).
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 07:09 PM   #6
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Sorry I didn't make that plain as I intended when I said "I don't deal with Windows." So no, you can't read or write HFS+ partitions from Windows (without some sort of additional software for Windows).
Does that mean I can copy and paste a Windows file to my Mac desktop and then copy that into my Windows VM?
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 08:17 PM   #7
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Does that mean I can copy and paste a Windows file to my Mac desktop and then copy that into my Windows VM?
Windows can read and write to HFS+ volumes, but you'll need to download and install some software to gain that capability. I did it a few years ago, and I believe it was free. Google around and you should be able to find it pretty easily.

Alternately, you can download and install some software on your Mac (some available options are free) which will give you the ability to write to NTFS volumes. See simsaladimbamba's post for more details.

Whether to go with NTFS or HFS+ is up to you. For practical purposes, I'd search and find out which software is cheaper and more easy to obtain. If you can easily find the HFS+ extensions for Windows, then go with an HFS+ volume. If you have trouble with that but can easily find NTFS extensions for Mac OS X, then make it a NTFS drive. If cost doesn't matter and you could buy software for either side, then format it according to which system it will be used with most (if you'll mostly be using it with Macs, HFS+; if with Windows, NTFS).

One final note: all modern Macs can read NTFS volumes, but special software is needed to be able to write to them. On the other hand, Windows systems can't even read HFS volumes; they need special software to read and write to them. If you'll be using this volume with Windows computers that don't belong to you, NTFS is the safer option.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 08:34 PM   #8
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ive had issues with certain PCs reading FAT 32 formatted by my mac. not sure why, they just dont like it - to the point it wont even access the drive and request to re-format it.




i suggest you format your external HDD with your PC to avoid any problems.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 09:11 PM   #9
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Why not use exFAT? Works with large volumes, large file sizes, works with OS X (Snow Leopard and later), and most modern versions of Windows (XP SP2, Vista SP1, 7, and 8).
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 05:56 PM   #10
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Why not use exFAT? Works with large volumes, large file sizes, works with OS X (Snow Leopard and later), and most modern versions of Windows (XP SP2, Vista SP1, 7, and 8).
In the disadvantages, it says that exFAT is not fully supported by 2012 machines. If I am able to copy and paste Windows files from my Mac OS Extended Journaled drive to my Windows VM, then I will be happy.
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 11:23 AM   #11
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In the disadvantages, it says that exFAT is not fully supported by 2012 machines. If I am able to copy and paste Windows files from my Mac OS Extended Journaled drive to my Windows VM, then I will be happy.
Are you only concerned about working with virtual machines? If so, you don't need to bother with this issue at all. Simply set up your external hard drive as a shared "folder" with read/write access. You don't even have to worry about mounting it specifically to Windows.
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 09:59 PM   #12
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Are you only concerned about working with virtual machines? If so, you don't need to bother with this issue at all. Simply set up your external hard drive as a shared "folder" with read/write access. You don't even have to worry about mounting it specifically to Windows.
Well the thing is that I mainly use my drives on my Mac and I have some Windows read only files. I don't use those files that often and if I do, I use them in my Windows VM. Can I just use Mac OS Extended Journaled and copy the files to the Windows VM desktop and use it from there?
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 10:22 PM   #13
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In the disadvantages, it says that exFAT is not fully supported by 2012 machines.
It actually says that as of 2012, it has limited support outside of Windows and OS X. If you're not using any other operating systems then exFAT shouldn't be a problem; I use it all the time to exchange files with Windows-using friends and haven't run into any issues.
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 11:08 PM   #14
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It actually says that as of 2012, it has limited support outside of Windows and OS X. If you're not using any other operating systems then exFAT shouldn't be a problem; I use it all the time to exchange files with Windows-using friends and haven't run into any issues.
Well I just tried copying a file that only opens in Windows that was on a drive that is formatted in Mac OS Extended Journaled to my desktop and then copied that into my Windows VM. It worked but is that the right way?
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 03:50 AM   #15
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Your VM software handles it automatically. You only need to worry about the filesystem when using physical computers.
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 01:23 PM   #16
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Well the thing is that I mainly use my drives on my Mac and I have some Windows read only files. I don't use those files that often and if I do, I use them in my Windows VM. Can I just use Mac OS Extended Journaled and copy the files to the Windows VM desktop and use it from there?
Yes. A file is a file; the drive format doesn't care if it's a Windows file, a Mac file, or a Linux file. The files themselves won't be changed. The only impact that the drive format has is whether the operating system can access the drive itself; if it can, or if you can copy the files off of it and transfer them to a partition that the operating system can read, then the files will be accessible and the same as they were before.

A loose analogy would be to think of the partition type as a jar, and the files as cookies inside of it. You can have cookies in a porcelain jar, a plastic jar, or a glass jar, and they'll always be the same cookies. The only difference is that some people might have problems opening certain jars and accessing the cookies inside. If you take care of the issue of opening the jar, then what's inside the jar is unaffected.
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 06:20 PM   #17
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Yes. A file is a file; the drive format doesn't care if it's a Windows file, a Mac file, or a Linux file. The files themselves won't be changed. The only impact that the drive format has is whether the operating system can access the drive itself; if it can, or if you can copy the files off of it and transfer them to a partition that the operating system can read, then the files will be accessible and the same as they were before.

A loose analogy would be to think of the partition type as a jar, and the files as cookies inside of it. You can have cookies in a porcelain jar, a plastic jar, or a glass jar, and they'll always be the same cookies. The only difference is that some people might have problems opening certain jars and accessing the cookies inside. If you take care of the issue of opening the jar, then what's inside the jar is unaffected.
Thank you. That was perfectly worded. I will just go ahead and format the drive as Mac OS Extended Journaled, since I intend to mainly use this drive for Mac and occasionally pull files from it to use on Windows. In those cases, I can copy to my Mac desktop and copy to another drive. Inefficient, but I won't be doing it enough to warrant a different method.
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 06:58 PM   #18
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Thank you. That was perfectly worded. I will just go ahead and format the drive as Mac OS Extended Journaled, since I intend to mainly use this drive for Mac and occasionally pull files from it to use on Windows. In those cases, I can copy to my Mac desktop and copy to another drive. Inefficient, but I won't be doing it enough to warrant a different method.
Wait, what? Mac OS Extended is not the same as ExFAT!
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 08:34 PM   #19
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Wait, what? Mac OS Extended is not the same as ExFAT!
Well I've been using the drive in Mac OS Extended Journaled on the drive so far and all my data is on it, it seems to be working fine. Should I make it ExFAT?
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 10:49 AM   #20
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Well, that all depends on what you want to do, which since the beginning you have not made very clear. If you are looking for help, it helps everyone to paint a clear picture of exactly what you want to do in the first post, you didn't even mention anything about using a Windows VM until halfway down this thread, so it just makes it confusing for everyone trying to guess at what you are trying to do.


There is no "best" solution, each file system has advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on what you want to do with your external hard drive:

OS X's default file system is called HSF+ (aka. Mac OS Extended). It can only be read by Mac computers and is required if you want to use the hard disk for Time Machine. If you want the hard drive to only work with OS X (and though a Windows VM) leaving it as Mac OS Extended Journaled will work just fine. It will NOT work if you physically plug your external hard drive into a Windows computer.

ExFAT is a different file system that is a replacement for the very old FAT32. It works with most modern Macs (but not for Time Machine) and it will work if you intend to physically plug the external hard drive into a Windows computer.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 09:34 PM   #21
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Well, that all depends on what you want to do, which since the beginning you have not made very clear. If you are looking for help, it helps everyone to paint a clear picture of exactly what you want to do in the first post, you didn't even mention anything about using a Windows VM until halfway down this thread, so it just makes it confusing for everyone trying to guess at what you are trying to do.


There is no "best" solution, each file system has advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on what you want to do with your external hard drive:

OS X's default file system is called HSF+ (aka. Mac OS Extended). It can only be read by Mac computers and is required if you want to use the hard disk for Time Machine. If you want the hard drive to only work with OS X (and though a Windows VM) leaving it as Mac OS Extended Journaled will work just fine. It will NOT work if you physically plug your external hard drive into a Windows computer.

ExFAT is a different file system that is a replacement for the very old FAT32. It works with most modern Macs (but not for Time Machine) and it will work if you intend to physically plug the external hard drive into a Windows computer.
Ah I see. So ExFAT won't require me to install extra software on a Windows machine?

I will just keep it as Mac OS Extended Journaled. It is all learning for me! Thank you very much for clarifying!
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 02:05 PM   #22
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Ah I see. So ExFAT won't require me to install extra software on a Windows machine?
I'll admit to still being a bit confused with what you're trying to do. Just to clarify, the advice given to you thus far assumes that when you say "Windows machine" you are talking about an entirely separate computer.

If I understood you correctly in a different post, when you say "Windows machine" you're talking about running Windows through a virtual machine on your Mac. Is that correct?

If so, then you don't need to worry about the format of the drive. When Windows runs through a virtual machine, it is running on top of Mac OS X. In other words, you can access a hard drive even if it is a Mac OS X volume, because Windows isn't accessing the drive directly - Mac OS X is sharing the drive with Windows. Everything that Windows does, whether reading or writing, goes through OS X.

Of course, there is one exception to this. Virtualization software does allow you to mount a hard drive directly to Windows, bypassing OS X. If you did that, then you would either need to install additional software on Windows or you would need the volume format to be something that Windows natively supported. However, this is not the default behavior and there's no good reason why the majority of people would need to do this.
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