Access external HDD with both Mac and PC

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by knarzie, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. knarzie macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2008
    As the title says. Can I format an external HDD so I can access with my Mac but also with a PC?

    If yes, how would I do that?

    edit: a bit more info that might be relevant. This isn't about network sharing. So I would need to be able to connect it via USB to my mac and read/write, and have someone else connect it to their PC at other times to read/write.

    Thanks everyone!
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Check out the various file systems here: MR Guide: File Systems

    The easiest way is to format it as FAT32 which is MS DOS (FAT) in Disk Utility
    This format is read/write for both Windows and OSX but has a 4 GB file restriction

    You can format it at NTFS (Windows) and install something like NTFS-3G or Pargon NTFS on your Mac to make it read/write

    Or you can format it HFS+ (OSX) and install something like MacDrive on Windows to make it read/write

    Hope that helps
  3. knarzie thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2008

    Disk Utility > erase tab > change from Mac OS Extended Journaled to "Unix file system".

    would this work?
  4. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    Um it would work, but not for what you want.

    Open disk util > partition > make 1 new partition and change it to MS DOS (FAT)
  5. LiteSpeed2Endor macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    Don't go the FAT32 route. I would highly suggest investing in Paragon or NTFS-3G like MacDawg suggested.

    FAT32 is outdated, and has the 4GB limitation to it. You may do it now thinking it is suitable for your needs, but if you ever need to go beyond that limitation, you will be stuck, and then will need to switch to the NTFS software anyways.

    Its only like $30 bucks or so, or, if you use bit torrent, I am sure you can find a "discounted" version. Either way, I would suggest that route.

    Or, use Macdrive 8 for Windows side and format it as HFS. Again, can be found using torrents.

    Currently using both methods on my macbook to have read/write access for bootcamp drive in OSX, and access to OSX drive in Windows.
  6. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    FWIW network sharing gets around the issues others have raised by abstracting the file system to standard network calls. Keeping data available to all of my devices (3 Macs each capable of running Windows as well and 1 PC) is what drove me to get an HP MediaSmart NAS box.

    Think carefully if your application really require high bandwidth or portability?


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