External HD Enquiries - About Format and Time Machine

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by ryanfong, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. ryanfong macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    #1
    Hi Guys,

    Basically I know nothing about Apple's format and FAT32, NTFS, etc. stuffs like that. So your helps will be highly appreciated.

    I want to purchase an external HD recently to use it as a Time Machine backup drive. Meanwhile, I also want to use it as a PC/MAC compatible drive to transfer files between PC and my macbook.

    The question is, what type of format can achieve my goal? Do I need to divid the HD into 2, one for TM one for storing files, and format them into 2 different formats?

    The new version Seagate FreeAgent is my favourite, and it provides a special "for mac" version which the format of Time Machine has already been built in, however it costs much more then the normal version, is it worth to buy such a "for mac" version despite the high price?

    There're so much I dunno hence the long question list, sorry for the hassle and thanks again for your posts.
     
  2. GfulDedFan macrumors 65816

    GfulDedFan

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    Oct 17, 2007
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    Indiana
    #2
    In order to use Time Machine, your drive or partition needs to be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journeled) which is one of the options in Disk Utility.

    In order to use a drive for pc and MAC, it needs to be Fat32 but you will be limited by the maximum size of a file. If you were to format the drive or partition in NTFS, the file size becomes a non-issue but you will need to use MacFuse in order to write to the drive from Mac OS. THIS ARTICLE might help with an understanding of this.

    I am under the impression that Disk Utility would be able to partition and format any external HD so I don't think that you are limited to any one manufacturer or the concept of being 'for Mac". -GDF
     
  3. ryanfong thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 14, 2008
    #3
    thanks for your reply GfulDedFan..
    So if the whole HD is in Mac OS Extended (Journeled) format, does it able to store files both in PC and Mac? If it doesn't, does that mean I need to divid the HD into two partitions, one in Mac OS Extended format, one in FAT32?
     
  4. cellocello macrumors 68000

    cellocello

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    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #4
    So I take it it's a bad idea (or impossible) to use Time Machine on a Fat32 drive?

    I'm thinking about setting up a little Time Machine myself.
     
  5. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #5
    One partition MacOS X Extended, one up to 32 GB in FAT32. FAT32 is limited to 2 GB or 4 GB per file. If you have plenty of space, I recommend another 8 GB MacOS X Extended partition for a backup copy of your Leopard disk, so you can boot your Mac from the backup disk if you need to and don't need the Leopard Disk.
     
  6. GfulDedFan macrumors 65816

    GfulDedFan

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    #6
    Not only is it a bad idea...it's impossible. The drive MUST be Mac OS Extended (Journeled) aka HFS Plus.
     
  7. cellocello macrumors 68000

    cellocello

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    Jul 31, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #7
    Ya, I figured as much.

    Also - I assume the space on the external drive needs to be 1:1 with what you're backing up? So if I have a 160gig MacBook, I need to make sure the Mac partition on the drive is at least 160gigs of Journeled space?

    I have a 500gig NTFS external HDD right now, and I'm thinking of making it like 200 HFS Plus and 300 Fat32, or something like that.
     
  8. GfulDedFan macrumors 65816

    GfulDedFan

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    #8
    2 Partitions would be a way. I personally have 2 partitions: 1 for Time Machine and 1 for a bootable clone backup using SuperDuper. They are both Mac OS because all of my file sharing, if any, takes place within Parallels Desktop. I don't do much windows except for at work and I keep that to a minimum.
     
  9. ryanfong thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 14, 2008
    #9
    I'm going to get the 1TB one, so what's the ideal size of the partition for Time Machine?
     
  10. ryanfong thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 14, 2008
    #10
    Thanks for your reply mate..
    Just curious, why up to 32G in FAT 32?
    I'm going to get the 1TB HD, still 32G for FAT32?

    Again, if the whole drive is MacOS X Extended format, is it usable for storing files in both PC and Mac?
     
  11. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #11
    If you're thinking of partitioning your Time Capsule's HDD, it can't be done without physically taking it apart and seating it in an enclosure as far as I know. I've heard of people creating disk images and "partitioning" it that way (don't ask, not exactly sure how to do it myself), but you pretty much have to self regulate the space used for Time Machine and for backup if you don't want to take either of those options. My suggestion would be to get a Time Capsule, but also a USB HDD. Connect the USB HDD to your Time Capsule's USB port and share it as a wireless HDD. Or if you prefer, buy an AirPort Extreme Base Station and hook up a USB HDD (after partitioning it with your Mac) and have one partition as the TM backup and the other for storage. The only issue with this option is that Apple does not officially support it, and although it's been possible to do since a couple of firmware versions ago, there's no guarantee it will be trouble free (and Apple won't provide help if it does give you issues). That being said though, I've read of plenty of users on these forums that have that setup with no issues.

    The great thing about the two options I mentioned is that the drives can be HFS+ and you will be able to use them across both Mac and Windows if you set up file sharing on your network properly. The Time Capsule handles the way the files are accessed (AFP on Mac, SMB on Windows) so there's no need for a dual format drive (and no restrictions on the file sizes either).
     
  12. GfulDedFan macrumors 65816

    GfulDedFan

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    #12
    That's hard to say, depends on how long a backup timeline you want and how many changes take place and whether or not your Time Machine is all inclusive or do you leave out some items. Mine is 1.5 times the size of my HD (120 internal to a 180 TM partition) and I have a timeline that goes back to Oct '07 when Leopard was released. I leave out Parallels which would be a TM hog.
     
  13. skorpien macrumors 68020

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    Jan 14, 2008
    #13
    FAT32 has limitations. It's just a reality of the file system. HFS+ can only be accessed with Macs, unless a third party application (such as MacDrive) is used on a Windows platform. FAT32 is supported by both platforms, and while NTFS can be read on Mac, it cannot be written to.
     
  14. ryanfong thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 14, 2008
    #14
    Thanks for your reply dude..really appreciated..
    Sorry for the confusion that I'm not going to buy the time capsule due to its high price. I just want to get a Seagate 1TB HD. So I think the best way is to make the HD into 2 partitions, one for TM, one formated into FAT32 to store files...

    As your following reply, I know there's limitation of FAT32, I just dunno why I can only allocate 32G for the FAT32 formatted partition?
     
  15. skorpien macrumors 68020

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    Jan 14, 2008
    #15
    Ah, alright. Was confusing this with another thread I read. The truth is you can allocate more than 32GB to the FAT32 partition, but it's going to give you issues. I had an 80GB external formatted as FAT32 (used Disk Utility at my school's computer lab) so I can use it to transfer files back and forth between my Mac at school and my PC at home. It worked well for a while, but then it started making horrible clicking and grinding noises, started failing when I mounted it on my Windows machine, and considering it was my only backup of my work once I graduated, that wasn't a good thing. I'm not technical enough to provide an answer as to why (the Wikipedia article is the only solution I can provide in that regard), but from experience it's not good to go over 32GB.

    As I mentioned tho, there are programs that will let you access HFS+ file system from a PC if you don't want to worry about the size limits.
     
  16. ryanfong thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 14, 2008
    #16
    Thank you so much for your replies, they help a lot!
    There's a good idea just came up in my mind, dunno if it works though..:)
    As you advised, I can create a 32G FAT32 partition as a "Buffer Zone". For normal daily file storing, I can save the files into the HFS+ partition. When I want to transfer the file to a PC without third party software, I can simply transfer the target file from HFS+ to FAT32(Buffer Zone) partition first before transferring it to the PC. Does it make sense?
     
  17. skorpien macrumors 68020

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    Jan 14, 2008
    #17
    Makes sense, but you're also limited to 4GB file size in FAT32. So as long as you're not transfering huge files, you'll be fine. And assuming your computers are on the same network, if you have any files larger than 4GB that need to be transferred, I'd transfer them over the network.
     
  18. priller macrumors regular

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    Dec 15, 2007
    #18
    I've never had an issue with fat32 partitions larger than 32gb, if you buy an external drive like the WD passport they even come formatted fat32.
     
  19. ryanfong thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 14, 2008
    #19
    Thanks for all you guys' replies and advises, you guys rock!

    I've decided to format the HD into one big main HFS+ partition and a 32G FAT32 partition as a PC compatible zone.

    I know I can only format it into HFS+ under mac, my question is, how about the FAT32 formating? Is it better to format the FAT32 partition under mac or pc?
     
  20. silverblack macrumors 68020

    silverblack

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    #20
    I'd partition the drive in OS X, format the windows partition into DOS (FAT). Then hook up the drive to a Windows machine and check, reformat to make sure it's FAT32.
     

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