External Hard Drive: FAT32 or NTFS?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by definitive, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. definitive macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    Aug 4, 2008
    #1
    I just got a WD Elements SE Portable hard drive. It's an external USB 2.0 2.5" drive. It came pre-formatted as NTFS. The box says that it requires formatting for Snow Leopard, though the system seems to detect the drive without a problem, and is displaying the space properly, etc. Do I still have to format it to use it with the system?
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    Snow Leopard, like any Mac OS X system, cannot write to NTFS. It can only read from them. You'll have to install a 3rd party driver, like NTFS-3G.
     
  3. GGJstudios, Dec 6, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #3
    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: Install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free)
    • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx 33USD).
    • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard, but is not advisable, due to instability.
    • 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 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
     
  4. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    Aug 4, 2008
    #4
    ok, guess it's time to format to fat32. thanks


    edit: hm.. why isn't it showing fat32 in the list of options under erase tab in disk utility? it has several mac formats, fat, and exfat.
     
  5. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #5
    I say, don't do FAT32. You'll be hating it later. Because the biggest file you could put on there is 4Gb. Even if you don't have any single file that size right now, you will in the future. Go with NTFS.
     
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #6
    Why not just install the driver so you can read/write NTFS with your Mac?
     
  7. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    #7
    So I'd have to install both MacFUSE and NTFS-3G?
     
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #8
    Read the 3rd bullet under NTFS in my earlier post.
     
  9. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    #9
    I see. Thanks. What about Tuxera? Is there an advantage of using it over the other two combined? I looked at their front page and it claims to have faster file transfers in cached mode. Anything else that's better?
     
  10. GGJstudios, Dec 6, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #10
    If you search the forums, you'll find several who have had problems with Tuxera, which is why I don't offer it as a recommendation, not to mention the fact that NTFS-3G for Mac OS X is free and Tuxera isn't.
     
  11. emaja macrumors 68000

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    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #11
    I know you asked FAT32 or NTFS, but what is wrong with HFS+? If you're not going to use the drive with a Windows machine, there is no reason not to use HFS+.
     
  12. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    #12
    i'm giving tuxera a try since it offers 15 day trial. their latest version is from october, and i couldn't find any major problems from searching. if i don't like it, then i can always switch. for now i'm gonna reformat and zero out the drive in hopes of removing whatever junk wd put on it to install itself on windows systems.

    i transfer files between windows and osx, so something that works on both with as little hassle as possible would be best.
     
  13. VPrime macrumors 68000

    VPrime

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    London Ontario
    #13
    Why not go with exfat? Any 10.6.5 machine can read it and write to it. Any windows computer (must have XP with SP3 at least) can read/write.

    File size limit is huge and not something you have to worry about for quite a ling time.
     
  14. definitive, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010

    definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    Aug 4, 2008
    #14
    hm, maybe i'll give it a try. does it work well with time machine?

    anyone who has a drive like this? i zeroed it out earlier, and it still shows as having 85mb in use, which i assume is some western digital preloaded software for windows.

    edit: hm actually it seems exfat isn't all it's cracked up to be (at the moment) reading from this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1035471 (possibly does not work with time machine, and doesn't deal well with small files. also no journaling).
     
  15. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    USA
    #15
    If everything that you say is true, then the fraction of the installed base of Macs and PCs that can read and write exFAT is small. I notice that you did not mention administration. The advantage of NTFS is clear. Virtually every PC in use today can read and write it. With the simple installation of NTFS-3G or a commercial alternative, virtually Mac can read, write, and format NTFS volumes. Even though my PCs do not offer the option to format my Flash drives as NTFS, my Macs with NTFS-3G installed offer it as an option which is trivially easy to use.

    Don't forget the reason why you use FAT and NTFS volumes on the Mac. It is for compatibility with PCs. Using exFAT works at cross-purposes.
     
  16. skorpien macrumors 68020

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    Jan 14, 2008
    #16
    NTFS won't work with Time Machine either. If you want Time Machine, you'll need HFS+
     
  17. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    #17
    so which file system will give me the least amount of headaches with time machine + cross-platform compatibility between osx + windows desktops? i'm looking for something that would allow me to backup some of the folders and files on my mac, and at the same time allow me to use the drive as storage on windows computers to store or transfer files.
     
  18. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #18
    Go back to my original post in this thread. If you're sharing a drive between Mac and Windows, NTFS is your best bet, but that's not compatible with Time Machine. If TM is a must, use HFS+ and use MacDrive or HFSExplorer to access the drive from Windows.
     
  19. skorpien macrumors 68020

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    Jan 14, 2008
    #19
    Since you'll need to have HFS+ to use Time Machine, so you'll need to either install 3rd party software on your Windows machines to access it (HFSExplorer, MacDrive) or you'll need to create two partitions, one HFS+ and one NTFS, for use with Time Machine and regular file storage respectively.

    Edit: GGJstudios is way too darn fast.
     
  20. bobr1952 macrumors 68020

    bobr1952

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    Jan 21, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, FL
    #20
    Well I'll agree with you on that. I have quite a few external drives and I had been formatting them as FAT32 but gave up on that a year or so ago and now just format them as HFS+. Sure that may be limiting to some but I don't have a need to read anything in Windows and if I ever did, I guess I would approach it from the side of installing something on Windows to read HFS. :)
     
  21. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    Aug 4, 2008
    #21
    hm, i'm on hfs+ right now, and it's showing about 600megs of space used after a clean format. is that normal? before it was showing about 80megs on ntfs.
     

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