External HD Format?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by digitaldave, May 16, 2009.

  1. digitaldave macrumors regular

    digitaldave

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    #1
    I'm thinking about getting an external HD for my Mac, but I also would want to use it with a PC for moving files around. However, I don't want to pay a premium for a Mac specific product if I can use a regular version :). So, are there any external HDs that will work out of the box on both Mac and PC?

    I've heard about NTFS-3G that will enable NTFS drives to be read on the Mac, are there any formats that are compatible between both platforms?

    Thanks :).
     
  2. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2006
    #2
    Any hard drive is compatible with both. You just need to use FAT or NTFS is you want the Windows machine to be able to read it.
     
  3. Fizzoid macrumors 68020

    Fizzoid

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    You won't pay a premium for a Mac specific external HD. What you do pay a premium for is the addition of Firewire 400/800 and eSATA ports on the caddy which may or may not be a benefit to you. If you don't want to use something like NTFS-3G then you'll need to have a FAT formatted drive (most 'PC' external drives are already FAT) however you'll be limited by the 4Gb FAT filesize limit. I've been using NTFS-3G for about a month now and haven't encountered any issues.
     
  4. Imola Ghost macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #4
    I believe that I'll need to use the NTFS-3G because the external hard drive I have is 250gb. How do I format the drive for NTFS-3G? If I do use FAT then I won't get my whole hard drive correct?

    Can I do this on my Macbook? I'm a recently converted Mac user so I'm still learning.
     
  5. waw74 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    #5
    You can use the whole drive, you just can't have any single file that is larger than 4GB

    Use disk utility, it's in the Application/Utilites folder.
     
  6. Imola Ghost macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #6
    Thanks, but having the 4gb file size limit may prevent me from using FAT. Where can I format to the NTFS-3G?
     
  7. Fizzoid macrumors 68020

    Fizzoid

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    UK
  8. McShizzel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #8
    Like mentioned by Fizzoid usually the higher price "Mac Versions" include two things:
    1) Extra connections (Firewire, e-Sata) although you can get these same connections on other "Non Mac Version" drives
    2) The drives are pre-formatted Mac OS Journaled

    It's up to you and what ports your computer has when it comes to the connections (both Firewire and e-Sata are faster than USB 2.0). The whole "Mac Version" label is more for catching someone who isn't quite as well informed by charging them extra for a product because in reality any external HD will do as long as the connections are there and the drive is formatted properly.

    As for the file system to use, I recommend formating the external as NTFS inside Windows. Then getting Paragon NTFS ( http://www.paragon-software.com/home/ntfs-mac/ ) although it's not free like NTFS-3G it's waaaay faster in my experiences (I find NTFS-3G ok for small files but anything a couple GBs in size will take forever to move and/or paste).
     
  9. jcpenn macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    #9
    you can use a software called macdrive to use HFS file system in pc windows.
     
  10. McShizzel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #10
    Rumor has it that the upcoming Snow Leopard will make HFS usable on Windows without having to use programs like MacDrive.
     

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