External Hard Drive File System

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by DrunkenMunky, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. DrunkenMunky macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2009
    I'm about to buy my first ever mac. :apple: 15" uMBP.

    Just a quick question regarding external hard drives.

    Does it matter what file system the hard drive is set to for me to be able to transfer data between the uMBP and the hard drive?

    Currently, my 1TB external hard drive is in NTFS, but i understand Mac use FAT32? (Please correct me if I'm wrong)

    Thanks in advance.
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If you are going to transfer the data just leave it as NTFS. Macs can read that. FAT is usful if you need to connect the drive to different kinds ofcomuters because FAT is nearly universal (USB THumb drives and camera memory cards use FAT) but if the drive is to be use with a Mac then use Apple's HFS+ with jurnalling enagbled. THis is the most robust file system and can self corect many kinds of errors. FAT on the other hand is the least robust, small errors can corrupt it and FAT needs periodic de-fragmentation where as the others don't.
  3. scienide09 macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007
    Your Mac uses the HFS+ file system, not FAT32. Also, your Mac cannot natively write to an NTFS drive, though it can read from that file system.

    There are a couple of options:
    • Reformat the external to FAT32, but bear in mind that there's a 4GB filesize limit using that file system. Your Mac can read and write to FAT32 without any alterations.
    • Leave the external as is, and install MacFuse and NTFS-3G on your Mac. Working together these will allow the computer to write to the NTFS-formatted external drive.

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