Buying an external hard drive but some questions included

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Xhilarati, Dec 6, 2017.


The better Hard Drive for both systems?

  1. Western Digital

    3 vote(s)
  2. Seagate

    1 vote(s)
  3. Other

    5 vote(s)
  1. Xhilarati, Dec 6, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017

    Xhilarati macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2017
    My family member has both a MacBook and an Asus. She's had nothing but bad luck with the Asus and wants to get an external hard drive to put all her pictures and files on so she can access them in her MacBook. She's unsure when it comes to them and has asked me but I have limited experience with Macs.

    The question is: Can she use it for both systems and be able to access the files or would she potentially risk losing them by switching between systems?

    I had found some FAQs for both Seagate and WD as far as the formatting and that you have to format it a certain way to access on both. Is this something easy to do and again, are you at risk losing the files? The files are mostly pictures of her young children so they are very important to her.

    If I have put my post in the wrong area, I apologize but I thank you for your help answering these questions!
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd suggest either Toshiba or HGST (Hitachi).

    I dislike "pre-packaged" drives.
    I prefer to buy "a bare drive" and an enclosure (USB3), and "assemble it myself".
    This is trivially easy to do -- some enclosure don't even use screws.

    Regarding how to format the drive:
    If your family member considers these files to be really important, and she is going to use them with a Mac, you want them on A MAC FORMATTED DRIVE. That's HFS+ with journaling enabled.

    I recommend that you DO NOT keep them on a "cross-formatted" drive (one that can use with both the Mac and PC).

    For transferring files from PC to Mac, use a SEPARATE drive of some sort that is specifically for this purpose. A USB flashdrive of sufficient capacity works fine.

    Also -- again if these files are important DO NOT "trust them" to ONLY ONE DRIVE.
    YOU NEED A BACKUP DRIVE AS WELL (all shouting is very intentional).
    That means... TWO drives... one is the "primary storage"... the other is the backup.
  3. Trusteft macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2014
    When you format the external drive, format it to exFAT. That way you will easily have access to it (write and read) on both Windows and macOS.

    As for brand, you will have people trusting various brands and swearing at others. I for example have 100% failure rate in anything from 1 hour to 1 week on WD drives since the mid 90s till about 5 years ago when I decided to never again buy another WD drive.
    I have no problem with Seagate drives.
    I also have good experience (though not as many drives) with Toshiba.
  4. MSastre macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2014
    While ExFat is supposed to work for both Mac and PC, some people have had problems. A good solution for using multiple drives is to get a dock that allows you to insert different drives easily. OWC has different docks and bare drives that you can use, depending on the connection and size you want. That way you can format a drive for each system and have back ups.
  5. Trusteft macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2014
    exFAT is nothing new. I never heard of any specific problem with it. What type of problems these people have/had? I can understand if the drive itself is malfunctioning but exFAT shouldn't be the root of any problem. macOS supports it for several years now. I use it for years without any issues, transferring files between macOS and Windows.
  6. ZapNZs, Dec 6, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    (Disclaimer: I am biased against ExFAT and my position is that it should be avoided whenever possible.)

    I prefer HGST, but, more than brand, I think keeping multiple copies of important files is the most critical component.

    If you are not using a 3rd party program, you have to use ExFAT or FAT32 (Mac calls this MSDOS) as the filesystem for read & write access on both platforms. I despise ExFAT and do not recommend storing any importantly/unique data on it due to it being prone to all sorts of issues that can result in data loss. In a nutshell, Windows uses NTFS (and increasingly ReFS), and Mac uses HFS+ and APFS as their native filesystems - these journaling filesystems are far more tolerant of a wide range of issues. Especially on Macs, ExFAT drives cope especially poorly with sudden power loss/improper ejection, which can cause file corruption that the Mac is unable to repair (even with the fsck_exfat!)

    If she is transferring over from Windows to macOS, my advice is to put the files onto a flash drive, and then transfer the files onto an external hard drive formatted in HFS+. This drive would not be usable on a PC without a third party program, but it would be a far better solution than ExFAT. (This still does not replace the importance of having multiple, redundant copies.)
  7. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Is this for a one-time transfer between the ASUS and the Mac? In any event important pictures should be in more than one place, as "insurance." But if it's a one-time thing, just get a drive that's big enough (perhaps even a USB key). Depending on how large any single file is, you may be able to transfer with the default format (likely FAT), and update from time to time.
  8. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    You didn't say whether this sharing will be on going or a one time deal. There are various ways to handle this all.

    1) Simple 1 drive NAS shared between the computers on a network.
    2) Use a program like Paragon for Mac that allows read/write of NTFS volumes (drives in this case).
    3) use ExFat and its only drawback is speed and no security (so it really is not a problem)
    4) if you happen to use Windows within a virtual (VMware Fusion, Parallels), you can use that copy of Windows to read/write NTFS volumes. The catch is, you have to have that virtual machine running and set up your the VM to access ports (not a big deal).

    As for best drives - really a non-issue as everyone will tell you how bad some are based on their experience while others will rave based on their experiences too. I have used both makers and other with great success. If you are interested in figuring which drives might meet your needs -
    and of course, backblaze
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    She could just use the shared section on her Mac and copy all the files from the Asus over the network

    Just about external hard drives are pretty rubbish to be honest WD and seagate are the worst. If you really want a good external drive then a ssd is your best bet it’s fast stable and not prone to bepreaking due to a lack of moving parts. A Samsung T5 or T3, but they can work out pretty expensive. Or an ssd put into a usb 3 SATA drive closure could work it fairly cheap.

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