External Hard Drive with Windows and Os X

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by rbha311, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. rbha311 macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2007

    I am running a 10.4.11 with a Windows XP virtual machine. I wanted to use an external hard drive which I wanted to cross use between windows and mac operating systems. I was unsure of whether I should partition my hard drive into fat32 and HFS for use between Windows and OS X machines and if I was to partition it then would I have to use the Fat32 partition for my Windows Virtual Machine since it's not really running on a partition on the actual hard drive.

    I used to have my Windows OS on a partition using BootCamp and I used my Hard Drive to transfer files between the two systems, it all worked fine until something went horribly wrong with my hard drive and I was told that this was due to the fact that I hadn't partitioned my Hard Drive for the two operating systems.

    thanks for the help.
  2. 11800506 macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2007
    Washington D.C. Area
    I would instead partition it as an NTFS drive and just use NTFS-3G + MacFuse to use the NTFS drive in OS X.
  3. steveza macrumors 68000


    Feb 20, 2008
    If you don't have files over 4GB in size then FAT32 will work fine on both OS X and Windows.
  4. rwilliams macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    I have a 500 GB Western Digital HD, and I have it split between FAT32 and HFS. The FAT32 partition is 350 GB, and that holds all of my files - movies, pictures, music, documents, software, etc. I use it to transfer files to and from my MacBook, Windows, and Ubuntu machines. The other 150 GB is HFS for Time Machine backups. I generally exclude my music, photos, and video files from my Time Machine backups to keep the size of the backups small. All I really care about is the system files, and I can just copy the other stuff back from the FAT partition.

    I also have an older 100 GB Maxtor HD that is HFS, for storing video files over 4 GB. Naturally, with only 100 GB and files at least 4 GB, I'm going to need a bigger drive eventually.
  5. rbha311 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2007
    My apologies, I've got windows on NTFS. Will this also apply if the windows installation was using NTFS?

    what I also don't get is that I have a windows virtual machine which means that the windows installation isn't physically lying on the mac HDD on a separate partition and yet when I open properties it tells me that the virtual machine is using NTFS. I know NTFS is a file structure but can a virtual machine use NTFS while running on an HFS harddrive?
  6. bkap16 macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2009
    Short answer: yes

    Long answer:
    Okay, a basic introduction to hard drives: they have two parts- a list of all the files, and then the part where the actual files are stored. The biggest difference between file systems is the layout of that file list. When you create the virtual hard disk, you're basically creating a file that looks like another hard drive. It has it's own file list and it's own set of files in it. In the HFS+ drive that OS X booted from, it's listed as a single really big file. When you open up whatever virtual machine you're using, the program treats that file as if it were a hard drive, complete with BIOS, and boots it. That boot loader loads Windows, windows says hi to the boot loader and thinks that the boot loader is sitting at the front of a hard drive like it's supposed to be. It looks for the list of files, sees that there is an NTFS-formatted list, and is very happy. Meanwhile, OS X has no idea what's going on except that your virtual machine wants to look at pieces of the very big file sitting in the HFS+ file list.

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