formatting external firewire drive for both Mac and PC

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Westside guy, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    Hey all,

    I am looking at getting one of the Lacie external firewire drives, probably 160GB. I'd like to use it for some video work with my Powerbook - specifically I'm moving my sister's videos over to DVD. But I'd also like to take maybe 40GB of it and format that as NTFS, so I can back stuff up to it from our Windows box (home directories and irreplaceable files mostly).

    After reading the data sheets on Lacie's website I know you can partition these drives; and I would assume I can do what I want by first partitioning it from my PB and leaving 40GB alone, then moving it over to the XP box and formatting that space from there. But... has anyone actually tried this? Any "gotchas" you can think of?

  2. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004

    If you want the drive to be OS X bootable, it has to be HFS+ formatted (all of it).

    If you want windows and OS X compatibility, it has to be FAT32 - which is 32 bit and therefore limited to 4GB filesize.

    NTFS isn't filesize limited, but not natively supported by OS X.

    You can't have more than one type of partition on the drive without messy workarounds (search OSXHints for the articles, they're ugly as sin).

    My solution was to partition twice HFS+, and use MacDrive on my PCs to get at the imformaiton. Only problem with this is, it's not PC bootable.

    Messy, messy messy. I should have bought 2*120.
  3. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Dec 18, 2003
    I once helped someone partition a 200 GB LaCie with four 32GB FAT32s and an NTFS for the rest. Hence the NTFS is read-only on Panther (though on Win2K/XP it is full access) but the FAT32s are perfectly fine. I did the partitioning with the partition tool in Windows XP, which allows the creation of NTFS. Not bootable, but for a data dump that's okay.
  4. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Yep, one nice thing about Panther vice Jagwire is that you can mount and read NTFS partitions.

  5. AdamR01 macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2003
    I read in another post somewhere that 10.3.5 (or was it 10.3.6?) supports expiramental write on NTFS.

    Also, another thing you can run into is that with NTFS the permissions will get kinda funky if you use the drive on more than one computer. If you go the Fat32 route, also note that Windows2k/XP will not let you format a drive bigger than 30GB as Fat32, you'll have to do it on a Windows 98 machine or buy Partition Magic.
  6. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    Another option, depending on how much data you need to write and access from the windows computer. You could use one of the many programs that let windows read an apple volume, or perhaps mount the drive from the apple through a network.
  7. jaromski macrumors regular


    Jun 18, 2004
    you can also format these firewire drives under linux and make them ntfs/hfs+/fat32/

    a really neat program is called cfdisk. it is a souped up version of fdisk for linux. i use it on my debian machine for partitioning and it works great. plus it has all the fs/partition codes in a menu so you can go crazy. but the firewire drive shows up as a scsi device (e.g. /dev/sda) and you can format it from there or mount it, etc. (e.g. cfdisk /dev/sda or mount -t vfat /dev/sdaX /firewire)

    it seems like ntfs write is still experimental though on linux. i imagine once they figure out all the gotchas it will show up on the mac side too. since they all drink from the same open source fountain.

    but i was able to get a seagate 200gb for $108 on and a bytecc firewire enclosure for $30 = $138 for 200gb firewire storage. it is really quick too. then it shows up as a scsi drive but the one thing that sux is i could only get it working with the new 2.6.x series kernel. i bet you could find a knoppix cd with a 2.6.x and have it run out of the box...but linux isn't so reliable on that front (not that it isn't reliable there are just so many friggen' distributions that it may or may not work on that specific version)

    it runs great though, i love it.


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