External Hard Drive for Mac

thomasman87

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 6, 2011
30
0
Do I need to buy a special external Hard Drive for my Mac? Sorry, I am sure this is a basic question, but just want to make sure.
 

Nov 28, 2010
22,684
27
located
You can buy any external or internal HDD out there and format it via Disk Utility to your liking.
No need to get a "Mac HDD".


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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.
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rkaufmann87

macrumors 68000
Dec 17, 2009
1,760
38
Folsom, CA
Do I need to buy a special external Hard Drive for my Mac? Sorry, I am sure this is a basic question, but just want to make sure.
No, however it also depends on what type of use you intend the drive to be used for. If you plan on just a Time Machine backup drive then any USB EHD will be fine however I'd stay away from Western Digital products as their EHD's have a high failure rate.

However if you will be using this to store files that are large and you need a quick IO speed then get Firewire 800 or Thunderbolt depending on which iMac you have.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,379
704
Do I need to buy a special external Hard Drive for my Mac? Sorry, I am sure this is a basic question, but just want to make sure.
There's no such thing as a Mac hard drive. You can buy any external hard drive and formatted the way you want it.
 

kathyricks

macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2012
265
17
Do I need to buy a special external Hard Drive for my Mac?
Yes, if you want to be able to hook up the hard drive straight out of the box and start copying files to it. Go to amazon.com and enter "external hard drive mac" as your search words then read the lowest scoring owner comments of each model you are considering buying to see whether or not owners said the hard drive worked straight out of the box. Some do not and require "formatting" which is very confusing to a beginner especially because the instructions for formatting are explained in geek-speak instead of plain english.
 

computerstar

macrumors newbie
Oct 8, 2009
20
0
Do I need to buy a special external Hard Drive for my Mac? Sorry, I am sure this is a basic question, but just want to make sure.
You don't need any special hard drive for your Mac or MacBook. Any hard drive that is compatible with PC and Mac is ok.
Thanks.
 

Lancer

macrumors 68020
Jul 22, 2002
2,123
82
Australia
Don't forget if you're using the external HDD for Time Machine the software with automatically format it for your Mac. Just go to TM in System Preferences and select your new HDD and it will take care of the rest no matter if it's Windows or Mac formated.
 

iSayuSay

macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2011
3,197
325
Any "for Mac" external HDD purchase is not a wise decision since they essentially the same, but cost more because it has Mac logo. While it's extremely easy to reformat or create Mac/Windows partition with your external.

That's what you're getting for using Apple product. Literally everyone try to rip you off.