Using a hard drive as a USB storage?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by genedrgn3, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2013
    Few questions I've come across. My first question is, can you take a back up hard drive, format it, and use it just like a flash drive on a Mac? I know you can do it on a PC because my friend has done it. When I do it on my Mac however, I'm able to store data on the device, but when I go to plug it in to a PC or my PS3, nothing comes up to show it's even connected. I thought I'd ask here before I reformat it and try it again.

    Guess that's only one question...
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    It depends on the format and partition map scheme.


    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.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2008
    I generally like NTFS for external drives. Best compromise between compatibility and being able to handle large files (over 4GB in size). But I'm using a paid NTFS product on my Macs for reading/writing. This way, I can use the drive on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    There are other possibilities that I've never used. Such as exFAT, which sounds like it has solved some limitations of FAT32.

    What is important is to find a format that works for your needs. HFS+ probably isn't except in a mac only environment (though there are drivers for other os's).
  4. macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
    I used to use MacDrive. Great program to use I think.

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