External Drive Format

Sebastian79

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 12, 2017
146
20
I have a WD Elements Portable drive, which I want to use interchangeably between a MBP and a windows laptop. How should I format it? Tnx!
 

New_Mac_Smell

macrumors 68000
Oct 17, 2016
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Shanghai
I get many problems with my WD ExFat drive, always on MacOS to do with mounting. I find the solution is to force kill the check in activity monitor, then it allows me to mount it. No idea why it happens but it is the same drive you have and ExFat. I don't think there's any other solution however bar premium NTFS drivers.
 

ZapNZs

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
2,310
1,155
FWIW, I personally prefer FAT32 over ExFAT as I find FAT32 is far less vulnerable to the corruption caused by an accidental improper eject/loss of power - even though it has huge limitations.

On my Macs (as mentioned), after an ExFAT drive has an accidental power loss incident or does not eject properly, it is very common that the Mac can no longer see/mount the drive when plugged back in. On a positive note, it seems like Windows can usually repair the corruption without data loss, but it is a pain to do, not very assuring, and when purposely playing around with this I was able to produce incident where data loss did occur. This was obviously not a scientific test, but it was enough to change my personal outlook.

I've personally gone the route of using different physical disks for native Windows and Mac machines with either NTFS or HFS+ for the respective drive, syncing data between my Macs and PCs via a combination of cloud storage, flash drives or hard drives used solely for temporary transfer of non-unique data (usually formatted in FAT32). Some Users also might employ NAS for enhanced sharing capabilities. Others have used third party Apps on both Windows and Mac to gain support for the other filesystem, such as Paragon or Tuxera or HFSexplorer or Fuse (opinions on these seem to vary). Some have enabled HFS+'s native NTFS write support (with very varied results in regards to how well it works given it is only an experimental feature and I have read some claims of it causing corruption to the NTFS drive.)

Hopefully, the future will see Microsoft's ReFS and Apple's APFS gaining read/write capability with each other. Both companies seem invested in their new file systems - they have to realize the limitations of ExFAT and how it is becoming very common for many of their customers to use both Windows and Mac devices. If Apple and MS came to some sort of agreement to allow compatibility between their new file systems, I think it would be a big win for the people who buy and use both of their products, FWIW.
 
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Sebastian79

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 12, 2017
146
20
FWIW, I personally prefer FAT32 over ExFAT as I find FAT32 is far less vulnerable to the corruption caused by an accidental improper eject/loss of power - even though it has huge limitations.

On my Macs (as mentioned), after an ExFAT drive has an accidental power loss incident or does not eject properly, it is very common that the Mac can no longer see/mount the drive when plugged back in. On a positive note, it seems like Windows can usually repair the corruption without data loss, but it is a pain to do, not very assuring, and when purposely playing around with this I was able to produce incident where data loss did occur. This was obviously not a scientific test, but it was enough to change my personal outlook.

I've personally gone the route of using different physical disks for native Windows and Mac machines with either NTFS or HFS+ for the respective drive, syncing data between my Macs and PCs via a combination of cloud storage, flash drives or hard drives used solely for temporary transfer of non-unique data (usually formatted in FAT32). Some Users also might employ NAS for enhanced sharing capabilities. Others have used third party Apps on both Windows and Mac to gain support for the other filesystem, such as Paragon or Tuxera or HFSexplorer or Fuse (opinions on these seem to vary). Some have enabled HFS+'s native NTFS write support (with very varied results in regards to how well it works given it is only an experimental feature and I have read some claims of it causing corruption to the NTFS drive.)

Hopefully, the future will see Microsoft's ReFS and Apple's APFS gaining read/write capability with each other. Both companies seem invested in their new file systems - they have to realize the limitations of ExFAT and how it is becoming very common for many of their customers to use both Windows and Mac devices. If Apple and MS came to some sort of agreement to allow compatibility between their new file systems, I think it would be a big win for the people who buy and use both of their products, FWIW.
Very confusing :) but you did convince/scare me away from exFat. Tnx!
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,461
4,964
Both exFAT and FAT32 are terrible. They don't offer any protection agains data corruption and there are other issues too. They are ok for data exchanging between platforms (manual checksumming is a must), but thats it. I would NEVER trust any of those filesystems with my important data.
 

Sebastian79

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 12, 2017
146
20
Is it possible to partition my external drive NTFS / exFAT? And will that minimize the risk of corruption / losing important data?
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,461
4,964
You can certainly partition it NTFS, but then you'll need special drivers on the macOS side if you want write access (macOS used to have experimental NTFS write support, not sure if thats still in the system).
 

Sebastian79

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 12, 2017
146
20
That would certainly be more stable. The only issue is it seems like with almost every macOS version those NTFS driver packages require another paid upgrade.
I've been advised to get Paragon NTFS. Is that the case with this app?
 

Sebastian79

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 12, 2017
146
20
I don't use it, but just going from memory what I read on the forums, yes I believe it was a paid upgrade with Sierra and has been with other macOS releases also.
after a quick search, it seems that tuxera is the better choice...
 

PBG4 Dude

macrumors 68030
Jul 6, 2007
2,774
1,997
I get many problems with my WD ExFat drive, always on MacOS to do with mounting. I find the solution is to force kill the check in activity monitor, then it allows me to mount it. No idea why it happens but it is the same drive you have and ExFat. I don't think there's any other solution however bar premium NTFS drivers.
My WD external drives all come with an NTFS driver for OS X. You need to snag it off the external drive before reformatting it though.
 

New_Mac_Smell

macrumors 68000
Oct 17, 2016
1,927
1,543
Shanghai
My WD external drives all come with an NTFS driver for OS X. You need to snag it off the external drive before reformatting it though.
It's only really been a problem in the last year. I only sometimes use it when transferring a large file between MacOS/Windows, and for some reason this issue occurs (I am ejecting, I think something gets hung up; annoyingly Windows doesn't have any issues in reading it...). I use a pen drive for smaller items and works fine. I've just accepted it as one of those things really.

I'll check that next time I get a WD, always instinctively re-format it straight out of the box!
 
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