Do I need to convert my NFTS drives to FAT?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jburrows500, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. jburrows500 macrumors regular


    Jan 26, 2007
    Hells Kitchen NYC
    PC user converting to Mac.. New mac arrives Wednesday. I was getting ready to buy a 2TB external drive to convert my NFTS drives to FAT32. I now understand there are programs available where Mac can read NFTS drives. Is this the case? If I don't need to go through this time consuming process, all the better.
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010


    Overview of the four major file systems (called "Formats" in Mac OS X) used on Windows and Mac OS X, compiled by GGJstudios. You can use Disk Utility to format any HDD to your liking.

    Any external hard drive will work with PCs or Macs, as long as the connectors are there (Firewire, USB, etc.) It doesn't matter how the drive is formatted out of the box, since you can re-format any way you like. Formatting can be done with the Mac OS X Disk Utility, found in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Here are your formatting options:

    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)

    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
    • You can use this format if you routinely share a drive with multiple Windows systems.

    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
    • You can use this format if it is supported by all computers with which you intend to share the drive. See "disadvantages" for details.

    FAT32 (File Allocation Table)
    • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
      [*]Maximum file size: 4GB.
    • Maximum volume size: 2TB
    • You can use this format if you share the drive between Mac OS X and Windows computers and have no files larger than 4GB.
  3. xlii macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    I have used Tuxera NTFS for several years on my mac. It allows me to read and write NTFS drives on my mac. I've never had an issue with it. Very pleased with it and it is well worth the cost.

    I've used it on 10.6.8 through 10.8.3 with no issues.
  4. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    I used to have Tuxera when I wanted to be able to write NTFS drives to then move to my Windows machines. It worked fine. If you just need to be able to read NTFS (not write) then you can leave the drives as-is. If you will be dedicating these to the Mac I would suggest reformatting in Mac OS Extended, not FAT32.
  5. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Mac OS X can read (just not write) NTFS drives natively, no need for additional software.
  6. eyepea macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2012
    If you install Parallels on Mac and build Windows in there (a virtual machine) then you can easily transfer and access any drives in both windows and mac in either a mac format or a windows format.

    Otherwise you can read NTFS in Mac, but only write on Fat, having said that aren't there limiattions with file sizes on Fat?

    I am a PC user of 15 years and Mac user of the last 5 years. I used Parallels with Windows on it for a few months or two when I started using Macs and said 'to hell with that' I am making everything Mac based and now I use Windows only every so often when someone lends me an NTFS drive or I need to put files on a NTFS drive for someone. I can do that all in Windows in Parallels.

    Using a virtual machine like Parallels also allows you to use both OS's while you are working it all out.

  7. jhfenton macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I'm using Paragon NTFS.

    I tested Paragon using its time-limited-fully-functional trial period, and then ultimately paid the $20 to keep using it. I wanted to create an "upstairs" Mac mirror of my "downstairs" PC video library, both to serve as a backup and to create an "upstairs" video server. The easiest way to do it, and to have the "upstairs" drive fully functional in the event of a "downstairs" failure was to use NTFS on the "upstairs" drive. (I keep them synced over our home network.) With Paragon installed, NTFS formatting and use is transparent and native-feeling. I ran a few benchmarking tools before I put the drive into service, and I found no difference in speed between native HFS+ and Paragon NTFS formats used on that volume.

    If you just want to use NTFS briefly to copy files over, OS X can read NTFS, but the volumes are read-only. If you just need a brief transition period, Paragon's free trial will give you a couple of weeks.

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