Best External Hard Drive for both Mac/PC

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by g0twylo, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. g0twylo macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2009
    Hey all,

    I have both Macbook and a Dell laptop, both of which I download things on. Is it possible to have an external hard drive that I can hook both notebooks up to and put data on? (Doesn't have to be at the same time) If so, what are my best options? I just want to be able to hook either of my notebooks up to one single external hard drive, but still have it accessible by both computers when I want. Thoughts? (Sorry if it doesn't make much sense, kind of hard for me to explain)
  2. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    It's all about how the drive is formatted. It depends on what you want.
    1. Does it need to be portable?
    2. Is is just back-up or something else?
    3. What kind of connection do you want, or does your PC have Firewire?
  3. g0twylo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2009
    Not portable as I'm not really going to be moving it around that much except when I literally move somewhere else, more than a back up, I'd like to store all my music/movies/other files on it. I don't think my PC has fire wire, but I have the original UMB so it doesn't. My PC is a Dell Studio.
  4. NewMacbookPlz macrumors 68040


    Sep 28, 2008
    The easiest way to do this would be to get any USB connected external drive that's in your price range (I prefer Western Digital or Seagate) and then there are three ways I can readily think of to get it to play nicely with both Mac/PC.

    1) Format it as FAT32. While not as stable/fast as NTFS, Mac OS X and Windows can readily read/write to FAT32, but neither Win7 or OS X can boot off this format, if that matters.

    2) Format it as NTFS. Windows will be happy here, and will manage the larger disc size better than FAT32. On the mac-side, you'll have to download and install NTFS-3G with macFUSE to write to an NTFS partition, but this generally works very well. Here though, you won't be able to boot from the external drive to the Mac, if that matters.

    3) Create two partitions, one NTFS and one HFS+Journaled. This will allow for each computer to have it's own space/partition. The Mac can read the NTFS partition with the tool mentioned in #2, and the Windows machine can read the HFS+ partition with this add-on: .

    Any of these schemes should work, it just depends if you want to use Time Machine with the Mac as well...that will require a special Time Machine partition on the external drive. Seeing though how you want to use the external drive mostly as a media host type of drive, number 1 would be the simplest, but 2 should work fine as well. You may want to consider a drive larger than what you think you'll need just so you can create a Time Machine partition using Disk Utility on the Mac for backups. If you do this, I believe you'll have to format the drive as FAT32 first, create the Time Machine partition, and then if you want to use NTFS, use the Dell to reformat the FAT32 partition to NTFS, while leaving the Time Machine partition intact.

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