External HD for future switcher

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by williamsonrg, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. williamsonrg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #1
    I'm currently saving my pennies so that I can be a "switcher" sometime soon. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my first Mac, an iMac G5, when I graduate from college. Although that's 7 months away, I am already planning for that day, so all my computer-related purchases are geared towards that eventual date of switching.

    To that end, I am looking at getting an external hard drive for my current PC (a Gateway XP laptop... crappy, I know). I need something to backup my data, since I'm always afraid this laptop, although only 2+ years old, will die any day. My question for you Mac experts is this: will there be a problem transferring data from an external HD to my iMac? I know that, for example, my iPod is formatted for PCs, and so when I switch, I will have to reformat it in order to use it. Will I have the same problem with a hard drive? If so, what is the best way for me to backup my data? I don't want to get an external CD/DVD-RW, since my iMac will have one.

    Thanks in advance for your help. I know I'm a "newbie" but I've followd these forums for quite some time.
     
  2. Jalexster macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    #2
    Mac OS X can read NTFS, and FAT (which are used by Windows), so you will be able to get your data off an external HDD, and you will even be able to use your iPod with your Mac without formating it. Althought iTunes will erase the songs from it, when you "link" it to your iMac.
     
  3. Zaty macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #3
    I would format the external HDD with FAT32 as OS X can read and write to FAT 32 partitions. Unless you plan on never using Windows again after the switch. (OS X can only read NTFS partitions)
     
  4. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #4
    Thanks for the tip


    Thanks much for the tips. Thanks also for clarifying about the iPod. I thought it was a formatting issue, not just an iTunes issue.

    I know this is a stupid question probably, but can I format any hard drive with either format with Windows XP, or are there special utilities for that? I'm not uber-illiterate when it comes to computers, just never had to learn much about hard drives.

    Thanks again for the tips.


    Now I'll search the forums to find who makes the best hard drives.
     
  5. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #5
    Backup software?

    OK, by searching this thread and Amazon.com, I've found a few hard drives that would probably work. My question now, then, is would anybody recommend backup software? Since I have XP, I'm constantly in fear of losing everything right before I'm ready to make the switch. I know Maxtor drives come with software, but I hear it's not very useful.

    I know this is a PC question, but I'm just trying to make my transition to the Mac world as soon (and as easily) as possible... I don't want to get a backup software only to find out that all my files are compressed and unrechable from a Mac.
     
  6. Toe macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #6
    Just FYI, you might want to consider building your own drive. Just buy a cheap IDE drive, which you can find on PriceWatch (under "Drives - Hard"), then slap it into a combo USB2/Firewire case, like one of these.

    The warranty on the drive will still cover you in event of failure, and you can use the drive on any USB or FW port. Pretty handy.


    P.S. Then check out Wandering Philosopher for no reason. ;)
     
  7. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #7
    Build-an-HDD

    Thanks for the links, I'll check that out. Does anybody have any reasons (even anecdotal ones) not to build my own?
     
  8. tomf87 macrumors 65816

    tomf87

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2003
    #8
    It depends on if you feel comfortable building an external drive enclosure. For some, they would rather just buy an external drive and use it and not spend time building one.

    Frankly, I could build one, but since I didn't want to waste time building one, I bought an external Maxtor 200GB with USB and Firewire. It included a side stand as well so you do not need much desk space for it. It works reliably and I have had no issues, but your mileage may vary.

    As for any external disk, once you connect it to your Windows machine, right click My Computer and click Manage. Now click on Disk Management on the left hand side. You should see your new drive. Right click the black area of the disk and click New Partition. Follow the prompts. When you come to the part about formatting, it most likely will not let you select FAT32, and if so, select Do Not Format. Continue on and when you click Finish, note the drive letter.

    Now click Start then Run and type cmd and hit Enter.

    Type the following command to format as FAT32:

    format <drive letter> /FS:FAT32

    where <drive letter> is the drive letter you noted above. If you have one hard disk partition and one optical drive, you will most likely use E:. Let's say it is E:, you would type:

    format e: /FS:FAT32

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #9
    Thanks Tomf, I had just decided that I although I felt I could build one, I didn't really want to spend the time doing it. I found a sale on a Lacie with plenty of space for me, so I think that'll work just fine.

    And thanks so much for that formatting tip. I definiately would not have known how to do it. Unfortuantely, I've gotten lazy, so if XP tells me I can't do something (like format it to FAT32), I just don't do it.

    Also, it's pretty much standard practice to partition a drive, right? I remember all the first computers I had (way back in the mid-90's) came with partitioned drives, but that doesn't seem to be the case any more. I know that those partitions have saved my butt on multiple occassions though...
     
  10. tomf87 macrumors 65816

    tomf87

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2003
    #10
    Every drive has to have some sort of partition. You can just use one for the external drive. Keep in mind that LaCie drive's come pre-formatted, so you may have to delete the partition that is on it before you create a new one.
     
  11. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #11
    Thanks again for your patience with a "newbie." But hey, everybody has to start somewhere, right?
     
  12. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #12
    Just got my new drive today, and I think it's formatting now. FYI, for anybody who might refer to this post later, the only way I could get Win XP to format it in FAT32 was to limit the partition size to 30gb. That's the limit for FAT32 apparently.
     

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