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Best format for a Mac/PC flash drive?

illegalprelude

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 10, 2005
1,579
119
Los Angeles, California
Hey everyone. I was recently trying to put a file on a 16GB flash drive that is formatted via FAT32. The file being bigger than 4GB would not go on it, seeing how FAT32 can't handle it.

So that brings me, what's the best format to have your flash drive, if you will be using it back and forth between Mac and PC units.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,448
815
So that brings me, what's the best format to have your flash drive, if you will be using it back and forth between Mac and PC units.
It depends on which Mac and PC OSs are involved, but generally speaking, NTFS or exFAT.


FAT32 (File Allocation Table)
  • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
    [*]Maximum file size: 4GB.
  • Maximum volume size: 2TB
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
HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended)
  • Read/Write HFS+ from native Mac OS X
  • Required for Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! backups of Mac internal hard drive.
    [*]To Read/Write HFS+ from Windows, Install MacDrive
    [*]To Read HFS+ (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer
  • Maximum file size: 8EiB
  • Maximum volume size: 8EiB
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
 

illegalprelude

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 10, 2005
1,579
119
Los Angeles, California
Oh wow. What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for all that information. Sad to see though that by now, there still isn't one simple format between both OS, let alone when you start talking about external devices like your television and PS3.
 

Macman45

macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
13,198
133
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
Best Format

Oh wow. What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for all that information. Sad to see though that by now, there still isn't one simple format between both OS, let alone when you start talking about external devices like your television and PS3.

If you want to be able to transfer files between Windows and Mac is FAT32....It's not great for space and cluster management, but gives you the ability to port files between the 2 Operating systems. I use it to copy stuff for friends who remain stuck in the Windows PC regime.
 

jackrv

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2011
300
0
ExFat will work if your windows machines are XP or later. Vista and Win7 support it natively, and XP does through an update.

I use an exfat drive to shuttle files between work and home daily, many of which are video source files above 6GB.
 

xlii

macrumors 68000
Sep 19, 2006
1,858
67
Millis, Massachusetts
I have Tuxera NTFS installed on my Mac. That allows OSX to read / write to NTFS formatted media.
Also allows disk utility to format a hard drive or flash drive as NTFS file system.

Works great on the latest 10.7.x
 

LeandrodaFL

macrumors 6502a
Apr 6, 2011
965
1
Can someone explain better to me whats exfat? I tought fat32 was the most advanced fat


BTW, I woud recomend NTFS, cause Mac can read from it, and even write with 3rd party support. I have a 64GB dual formated FAT32 and NTSF
 
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