External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by oem, May 22, 2011.

  1. oem macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2010
    Hey everyone, basically I want to buy a 2TB external hard drive that's fast, but I'm slightly unsure what I should be looking for. I have a few questions that hopefully can be answered.

    I have a 27" iMac that I got last year, does this support USB 3.0? And is there anything in particular I should look for to make sure a drive is Mac compatible?

    I've seen some of Western Digitals HD's and they look pretty good, but are there any better alternatives?

    Cheers :)
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    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 in HFS (Mac OS Extended) or FAT32 or NTFS-3G can be done with the Mac OS X Disk Utility.

    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.
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support NTFS
    • 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
    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
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    You do not have USB 3.0. You can use any external hard drive you please except eSATA. Don't bother with Mac compatible labeled drives, you just have to plug others in and reformat them to HFS+, which saves you about $20.
  4. gmans46 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
  5. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    No Mac models have USB 3.0.
  7. Peteman100 macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    If you have a 2011 model, wait for enclosures with Thunderbolt connectivity. Otherwise, go for something with FW800.
  8. JohnRocks macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2010
    According to my knowledge Seagate portable hard drives are best external hard drives.
  9. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    What will you be using the external drive for? If just Time Machine, any old USB2 drive will suffice. Then your decision will boil down to bus-powered or wall-plug-powered.

    If you'll be using it for intensive work such as running virtual machines (as I do) or processing image files, then go for a drive with a FW800 interface, which is about twice as fast as USB2. Just be careful of the FW800 connector, which is badly designed and falls out easily. If that happens when the drive is in use, it can destroy all data on the drive. Really, there's no excuse for that connector...
  10. bender o macrumors 6502

    bender o

    Mar 14, 2009
    Sorry for hijacking your post but I'm currently looking for the same (but for 3TB :)) can you tell me which stores have the better prices? And what brands should I stay away from? Please :)

  11. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Amazon, Newegg, TigerDirect are good sources. Microcenter might be good too. Best Buy is good but *only* if its a sale item. For brands, pretty much all consumer hard drives are the same. You might be better off getting a good enclosure (OWC for example) and getting a bare internal drive for it.

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