Formatting external hard drive - which format??

ethos17

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2010
11
0
Hi, I just got my new Seagate 640gb external hard drive and am in the process of formatting it on my MBP. However, I am not sure which format to do? My main use for the hard drive is for transferring media files back and forth between my MBP and PC using just one partition on the drive. I already know I'm not supposed to pick 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)' because I believe that is to use it as a boot drive. So should I pick 'Mac OS Extended' or maybe 'Free Space'? Thanks.
 

spinnerlys

Guest
Sep 7, 2008
14,328
7
forlod bygningen
http://guides.macrumors.com/File_systems

FAT32
  • called MS-DOS Filesystem in Disk Utility
  • read and write capability in Windows and Mac OS X
  • 4GB limit per file

HFS+
  • called Mac OS Extended in Disk Utility
  • can be read and written to by Mac OS X
  • can be read and written to in Windows only with MacDrive
  • can be read in Windows with HFSExplorer


NTFS
  • can be read by Mac OS X
  • can be read and written to by Windows
  • can be written to with the help of Paragon (40 USD) or NTFS-3G (free) or Tuxera (25 €)
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
MS-DOS (FAT) is the best as both, Windows and OS X can natively read and write it but it does not support individual files larger than 4GB. If you need bigger, format it to NTFS and use NTFS-3G to write it under OS X
 

Corndog5595

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2010
1,112
0
You have a few options:
1. Formatting to FAT
2. Installing NTFS-3G on your mac and formatting it to NTFS
3. Installing NTFS-3G and formatting it to NTFS on your Windows machine.

Free space is just unpartitioned space that no operating system can transfer files to.
 

ethos17

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2010
11
0
MS-DOS (FAT) is the best as both, Windows and OS X can natively read and write it but it does not support individual files larger than 4GB. If you need bigger, format it to NTFS and use NTFS-3G to write it under OS X
Sorry for the dumb question but which one is NTFS? For me it shows:

Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
Mac OS Extended
Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive)
MS-DOS (FAT)
Free Space
 

csunflip

macrumors regular
Jun 17, 2010
116
0
Sorry for the dumb question but which one is NTFS? For me it shows:

Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
Mac OS Extended
Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive)
MS-DOS (FAT)
Free Space
None....

Better off hooking it up to a PC temporarily and formatting via windows.
 

Corndog5595

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2010
1,112
0
either format it to NTFS on your windows computer and then install NTFS-3G on your mac, or install NTFS-3G and then format it to NTFS on your mac.

either way works.
 

cube

Suspended
May 10, 2004
16,983
4,969
NTFS is an Microsoft tech. Are you going to trust your data to some clone implementation? Apple does not support this format themselves.

FAT32 is often used a transfer format. It is old and the files cannot be bigger than 4 GiB each. It is very bad to use this format for large disks because it is not journaled (Windows itself does not allow formatting larger than 32GiB).

You should use HFS+ Journaled, the same as for a boot drive. If you want to use this from Windows, you need a third-party driver.

There's really no good cross-OS alternative.
 

Corndog5595

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2010
1,112
0
You should use HFS+ Journaled, the same as for a boot drive. If you want to use this from Windows, you need a third-party driver.

There's really no good cross-OS alternative.

he needs to transfer between his mac and his windows machine.
why in the world would you suggest HFS+?
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
NTFS is an Microsoft tech. Are you going to trust your data to some clone implementation? Apple does not support this format themselves.
10.6 has support for NTFS

You should use HFS+ Journaled, the same as for a boot drive.
Yes, if it's only Mac to Mac file transfers. Windows does not support HFS+ unless you spend 50 bucks on MacDrive which is useless.

NTFS is fine, just install NTFS-3G
 

ethos17

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2010
11
0
Thanks for the help. Was able to format to NTFS on my Windows 7 machine and installed NTFS 3g on my Mac and am transferring my music files as I type this.

By the way, is there a free alternative to the NTFS 3g from Luxera? $30 seems a bit hefty, especially considering the drive itself cost about $60.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
Isn't that hidden? If it's not official, it is not to be trusted. NTFS support is not easy.
Read access doesn't need any hacking but write access needs a terminal hack AFAIK. NTFS-3G will add support in seconds

Thanks for the help. Was able to format to NTFS on my Windows 7 machine and installed NTFS 3g on my Mac and am transferring my music files as I type this.

By the way, is there a free alternative to the NTFS 3g from Luxera? $30 seems a bit hefty, especially considering the drive itself cost about $60.
There is free version of NTFS-3G
 
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