Do I Really Need a Mac-specific External Hard Drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by measureless, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. measureless macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2011
    I'm looking to buy a portable hard drive for a family member and have noticed that a number of sites recommend I buy one meant for Apple computers if I intend to use it with a Mac. Now, my sister does use a MacBook but she also uses a Dell and gaming systems for media.

    The Seagate drive I have right now that I have reformatted for use in the PS3 works just fine with both my Mac and my PC so why am I repeatedly being told to go for the "Mac version"?
  2. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    No you don't. Just plug it in, possibly reformat it and you are good to go. Mac only drives are just marketing BS (although sometimes hard drive companies ship unnecessary software with their drives which may be OS specific.)

    That being said Windows and Mac are on different file systems so you will need your drive to be in FAT32 or else use a software like Paragon NTFS if you want to share between Windows and Macs.
  3. glutenenvy macrumors regular


    Sep 6, 2011
    And if you do chose FAT32 you may have better luck with Windows 7 doing the formatting instead of Lion. Both can format FAT32 but FAT32 is non native to Lion whereas it is native to Microsoft platforms.
  4. tmagman macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2010
    Calgary AB

    Windows has problems formatting to FAT32 with the larger drives. I've had more grief than you can imagine formatting to FAT32 on windows, the Mac disk utility is very good.

    Even then, do not pick FAT32 if you're wanting to use the drive between a windows and Mac, don't even mess with the NTFS for Mac programs. USE EXFAT! It's the new version of FAT and supports larger files and has much better performance. For instance: FAT32 files are limited to 4GB which isn't hard to reach anymore with HD video and other media, EXFAT does not have this issue.
  5. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I didn't realize EXFAT would work on both systems. You learn something new everyday :)
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    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 in HFS (Mac OS Extended) or FAT32 or NTFS-3G can be done with the Mac OS X Disk Utility.

    Here are your formatting options:

    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
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

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