Format for External Hard Disk shared by Windows and Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Lukeksk, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. Lukeksk macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2008
    I got 2 external hard disks (500GB each) and using them for backups of raw home videos. I want these 2 disks to be accessible by both my iMac and 2 other Windows XP Pro and Windows Vista notebooks. Does it matter how I format the hard disks or am I constrained to format them in FAT32 format only? If it has to be FAT32 format, will I be allowed to work with larger than 4GB files?

    Thanks for help.
  2. alexbates macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2008
    Georgia, USA
    MS-DOS (FAT) is format that Windows and Mac will both read. You should format them to that using Disk Utility.
  3. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    Yea, unfortunately FAT32 is your best bet. It does limit the file size, but other than that it isn't too bad. Maybe eventually MS will start supporting more file systems
  4. ZMacintosh macrumors 65816


    Nov 13, 2008
    are they USB? or have the option for that?

    if so, you might consider picking up an AirPort Extreme Base Station, and connecting the drives to that via a hub if oyu want both accessible.
    Reason being, si that oyu can format them to HFS+ and still allow Windows and OSX to read/write to them.
  5. boazjoe macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2008
  6. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    You can pair MacFuse with NTFS-3g to read/write NTFS on OS X. Though it can be rather slow. There is also ParagonNTFS but it is slowwww. There is a faster version of NTFS-3g on the page I linked to but it has an increased chance of file corruption during a system crash since it caches the data.

    On the Windows side there is MacDrive 7 which allows Windows to read/write HFS+. I do not know about read/write speeds as I use MacFuse, since it is free.

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