External drive questions: Newbie

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by davidra, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. davidra macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2011
    One of many questions to come as I migrate to Mac after thousands of years of PC use. I want to migrate photos and Lightroom from PC to Mac. No problem with the software, but I'm really curious about using external drives to do it. There is a nice how-to (http://lightroomers.com/migrating-you-lightroom-catalog-and-photos-to-a-new-computer/1155/) but I'm unclear about the best way to use an external drive. According to the blog, I would install the new version of Lightroom, then copy the catalog, presets and photos to an external drive, then copy that to the Mac. I have several large external drives which are PC formatted (NTFS). I have heard that a Mac can read and copy from an NTFS drive but can't write to it. Because I want to maintain the file structure my photos are in (because that's how Lightroom finds them), I need to transfer all the folders as is, not just the individual photo files. My question: can I do this just using the NTFS drive? In other words, can I just copy the photos folder from the PC to the external drive, then copy that to the Mac, and have all the subfolders and structure remain the same? I'm thinking ahead; my iMac won't even be here for a while, but I'm planning ahead.
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Yes, it is possible and works quite well to copy data (files and folders in a certain structure) from a Windows PC to an NTFS formatted HDD and then use that NTFS formatted HDD and connect it to a Mac and then copy the data off from it.
    The structure will remain intact.

    Does that answer your question or have I misunderstood you?

    To learn more about Mac OS X: Helpful Information for Any Mac User by GGJstudios


    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. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    You should be fine, you only need to have read access on the External Drive to be able to transfer them to your Mac, so a NTFS formatted drive will be fine. Yes, you will want to keep your subfolders and structure the same when you move to the iMac Hard Disk.
  4. davidra, Jan 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013

    davidra thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2011
    Thanks to both of you. For some reason the blog suggested that I would have to use a drive formatted in FAT32 but that didn't make sense, since I'm not interested in writing to the external drive from the Mac. Another post on MacRumors suggested that only the files would be read/copied and not the folders. I'll get to see how steep this learning curve will be when it gets here; right now just getting prepared.

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