Desperate help! Mac + external harddisc= deleted files


macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 31, 2015
Okay so, I have a mac and a windows and I recently got an external hard disc. So I put my mom's iphone pictures on the external hard disc through my mac. (I created a partition/ formatted). Then I plugged the external hard disc to my windows pc and realized that the external hard disc didn't show up on my windows pc(I didn't know that mac and windows couldn't share external hard disc). So I formatted it on my windows pc, and then I plugged it back to my mac and my files were gone. I probably sound really stupid, but I don't know what to do:(:apple: I thought I created one "thing" for mac and one for windows.


macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
Milwaukee, WI
When you reformat a disc, the first thing that happens is that all content of the disc is wiped clean. Presumably your Mom still has the photos on her iPhone. You'll have to decide if you are using the external for your Mac or your Windows, and make the transfer again.

I don't know if it's possible to partition the external such that one partition is for the Mac OS and one for Windows. I'd have to search for that, which you can do if no one else posts the answer.


macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009

From this point on, now and into the future, DO NOT use a "cross-formatted drive" to store important Mac files on.

By "cross-formatted", I mean a drive that can be used with both the Mac and the PC.

Instead, keep your Mac stuff on a "Mac-format" (HFS+) drive.

If you need to move things between a Mac and a PC, use a drive cross-formatted for ONLY that purpose.

For example, a high-capacity USB flashdrive works great for such things.


macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
Mac and Windows have different formats for drives. This is why you ran into the initial problem because your Windows could not read the Mac formatted drive. When you re-formatted for Windows, you did lose all that data (images files) you previously had on your drive. If you reformatted a Mac drive to again a Mac drive, the same thing would have happened.

I would recommend you next time format your drive with FAT32. Both Mac and Windows can read this type of formatting. Before doing this, read up on FAT32 and its own limitations.

Here is some info for you to get you started -

FAT32 file size support tops out at 4GB and volume size tops out at 2TB. This means that you're limited to 2TB FAT32 partitions if you want to use a 4TB drive. It also means that you are limited to 4GB files. If your drive is larger than 2TB, you can create more than one partition such as a 4TB drive would be 2 partitions of 2TB each.
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