Can I format RAID 1 drives with ExFAT?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by pjny, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. pjny macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2010
    I formatted all my backup drives using ExFat format for a Mac running 10.7.3 and a PC running Windows 7 64-bit. I am interested in getting a two-drive RAID 1 setup (from OWC or G-Tech) and wondering if I can format the drives as ExFAT.

    So far the ExFat drives have allowed me to move data from both laptops to the drives. Is this a wise move or are there any unforseen dangers using ExFat formatted drives with both systems.

    Guy at computer store said bad to use ExFat and I should just format each drive for each system. Thanks.

  2. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    I don't know anyone that uses exFAT. I'd be more inclined to backup each system to a drive in their native file system format. You can get paid or free utilities to allow each platform to read or write to each drive.

    To be safe let windows write to NTFS and let the Mac read from it, and let the Mac write to hfs+ or whatever the current standard and let windows read from that drive.

    Aren't all Windows 7 drives NTFS? If that is what MS recommends? Then stay away from exFAT.
  3. Exhale macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2011
    NTFS is the Windows system file format, but exFAT is designed to be used for more traditional storage purposes (replacing FAT32 for this purpose), like in flash drives used by cameras and external hard drives.

    It doesn't have nearly as much overhead or complexity (completely unnecessary by these device types) as more fully featured file formats.

    Non-windows systems writing to NTFS partitions is known to occasionally break or damage them, so you want to exercise caution when doing so.
  4. pjny thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2010
    I am just using the drives as external drives for storing data so is ExFAT ok with this? I formatted in ExFAT because I need to drop data from PC and Mac to the same drives for backup purposes only. I only power up the drives when I need to transfer data.

    Also, can Paragon NTFS app in Mac Lion work without damaging a NTFS formatted drive? Thanks.

  5. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Paragon NTFS is the most reputable NTFS driver for the Mac. I cannot attest to its quality based on personal experience because I use the free NTFS-3G driver from Tuxera. There are at least two commercial NTFS drivers for MacOS X in addition to the freeware that I use. I have never heard anyone complain of damage caused by any of them. With the alarmist nature of the Internet, this is remarkable.

    Apple supports ExFAT. As spacepower7 told you, however, I am aware of no one who used ExFAT for mission-critical applications. It strikes me as the answer to a question that no one asked. The most critical problem with DOS/Windows files systems has been the File Allocation Table in FAT-based file systems like FAT32. NTFS is much more reliable and has been used more than a decade. The older FAT-based file systems used two FATs to ensure data integrity--a primary and a backup. ExFAT uses only one. I assume that Microsoft employs other strategies to enhance the data integrity of ExFAT. Still I have great difficulty understanding how it can be as reliable as FAT32. If it were as reliable as NTFS, then Microsoft would switch to ExFAT to ease compatibilty with low-capacity external storage devices. That it has not done so should tell you something.
  6. pjny thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2010
    Wow. Thanks for the info. I have four backups (3 at home and one offsite). 2 are formatted ExFAT because I needed to transfer data from PC and MAC. If I had to format all drives with one format(and if I use Macdrive and Paragon NTFS) should I format them as NTFS or HFS+? Thanks.

  7. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    My advice is to decide how you are using the data on each drive. Windows backups should be done on NTFS-formatted volumes. MacOS X back-ups should be done on HFS+-formatted volumes. Data should be shared via networked volumes. If networked volumes is connected directly to a host computer, then the user does not worry about file-system issues. It is a good thing that you have MacDrive on your Windows machine and Paragon NTFS on your Mac. However, I see these as conveniences that allow you to read and write data to portable drives. I do not see these as essential elements in a well thought-out workflow.
  8. lucky856 macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2013
    No you can't....

    I run a video production company, and we reformatted all of our externals to exFAT to interface between custom towers running windows 8 and MacBooks. You cannot create any kind of RAID in either Windows or OS X. Our solution has been to leave our RAID speaking Mac and use USB 3.0 drives to shuttle data back and forth. We tested the failure rate before we committed to exFATs, and after pulling drives without unmounting around 500 times found that no matter what kind of size or connection the drives did not fail that much with only 3 problems. With the exception of FireWire 400 connections. For whatever reason, that was 50/50, but they are almost irrelevant so we didn't include that in the plan.

    We also renamed all of our hard drives after X-Men and other mutants. Not pertinent, but still relevant.
  9. drd79 macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2015
    Yes, yes you can. In fact I just did a RAID setup today and formatted to exFAT. Apple has slowly been abandoning the professional market in favor of cheaper products aimed at the consumer market that they can mark up the prices on. Because of this many production houses are switching to PC.

    There are a lot of false answers and plain bad information on this thread. I will attempt to set the record straight here. You can format a RAID array with any partition type. The advantages of exFAT are numerous when working cross-platform. RELIABILITY, it's much safer and more reliable to use exFAT than to use 3rd party software that can crash. SPEED, it's just as fast as any native format on either system. COMPATABILITY, it works with EVERYTHING just like flash drives and SD cards. FLEXIBILITY, you can access your data from ANY computer anywhere including Linux machines. In fact exFAT is the native format for Linux, the preferred format for many servers that run businesses and this site most likely. If it is safe enough for huge databases, it will be fine for your drives too!
  10. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    exFAT is not the native file format for Linux. ext3/ext 4 is the default. exFAT is not even fully supported in most Linuxes, never mind it being the default.
  11. matreya macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Including your 'info'. It is much better to use a 3rd-party extension to read/write NTFS than use ExFAT. With ExFAT, you can risk losing your data because you accidentally pulled the USB connector. NTFS, like HFS+ is a journaled format, so it is more resilient to sudden disconnections.

    Oh, and congrats for refreshing a 3yr old thread.

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