ExFAT: Switching all my external HDDs?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by MacNoobGuy, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
    hi all, here's my current setup: 2x 1TB HDD's that are both NTFS and store general files like music/videos plus one 1TB drive that Time Machine uses to backup my Mac. i don't know where to place this thread, but i thought i'd get a much better response here because the Mac folk would have more experience with ExFAT.

    since Mac's cannot write to NTFS and i have a Mac and Windows machines i thought i'd be better off just switching both to ExFAT and keep this as a permanent solution. what are the limitations of ExFAT compared to NTFS? can other devices like iPods and Android devices read ExFAT? what would i be giving up by switching to ExFAT from NTFS?

    what do you guys think? what potential problems can i run into? does ExFAT have higher rates of disk failure or anything like that? would i be better off leaving one as NTFS and making the other ExFAT just in case?

    since this is a big undertaking, i want to make sure i know what i'm doing. i want to keep using the normal 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)' for the Mac's HDD, but switch the external HDD's from NTFS to ExFAT.

    what can you recommend? this is all my data so i'm worried.

    thanks for any help!
  2. justperry, Mar 6, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013

    macrumors 603


    EXFat has a 4 GB file limit AFAIK, why not buy Paragon NTFS, it's not that expensive and works well on the Mac, since you want to access the disk by both Windows and OS X this would be the best option IMO.

    Bold = Not true
  3. macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    exFAT does not have a 4 GB limit. FAT32 does.

    PS sharing files on a network, check out a Synology NAS.
  4. macrumors 603


    You're right, but that's why I also said AFAIK, should have done a fast google search first.
    Don't get it why I had this in My head, I am pretty sure I read this here on MR.

    Well, at least I learned something, thanks for clearing this one up.

    eXfat Max file size = 16 EB as in Exbibyte
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
    could anyone tell me the cluster size i should use for ExFAT?
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
    i'm still trying to figure this out. can anyone give me a recommendation or a guide to look at?
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
  9. macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Format A Hard Drive Using Disk Utility (which is in your /Applications/Utilities folder)

    Choose the appropriate format:

    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 ($19.95) (Best Choice for Lion and Mountain Lion)
      • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
      • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx $36), which is an enhanced version of NTFS-3G with faster performance.
      • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and later versions, 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.
  10. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Last week I formatted a thumbdrive as ExFAT to take a file to a print shop. I didn't know whether they ran Windows or Macs, so I figured ExFAT would be a safe bet. It wasn't. For reasons I don't need to go into here, I ended up at two print shops... and in both cases they needed to try the thumbdrive in multiple systems until they found one that had an OS capable of dealing with ExFAT. I won't be using ExFAT again. It is not quite as flexible as one would think.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    FAT32 would've been the best option for something like that. exFAT is fine for personal use, however, if you're sharing files that are greater than 4GB (Blu-ray rip, for example), or if you have a RAID/external drive >2TB. Of course that is assuming you're sharing between multiple operating systems. If you're only using one OS, it's certainly best to stick with its native format.
  12. MacNoobGuy, Mar 11, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013

    thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
    ok thanks.

    so if i go with the default cluster size of 128kb, are you saying that i wouldn't be able to access files smaller than 128kb?

    edit: ok i just checked that Microsoft link and i understand now. does Apple have a recommendation for the cluster size?
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    It just means that the system "reserves" a minimum of 128KB for each file. (If the file is less than 128KB, it still uses 128KB of harddrive space.) That's why it's good to go with a smaller size if you're working with mostly small files (text/config files for example). You'll be able to use and access the files just fine, no matter the cluster size.

    As far as an OS X recommendation, I'm not sure. But I wouldn't worry about it. Just go with whatever it defaults to.

    edit: This article explains it better than I did.

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