Formatting External HDD - What format?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by marty1990, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. marty1990 macrumors 6502

    Nov 25, 2011
    I've got an external HDD, and the data on it I don't need. Am going to reformat it to transfer everything on my Mac over so I can update to Mountain Lion, but am unsure what to format it as. I realise NTFS isn't suitable for OS X, and Mac OS Extended won't be any good for a Windows machine - so will I be able to format as FAT32 and then use on both Windows and OS X? I want to be able to use it on both systems.
  2. ChanneledDan macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2012
    If you want to use it for both Mac OS X and Windows then format it as exFAT.

    Formatting it FAT32 will limit file sizes to 4GB. exFAT's file size limit is much higher than the size of any drives available today.

    Mac OS X since 10.6.5 (a version of snow leopard) supports exFAT
    and Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 support it*.

    *Windows XP requires a specific update, Vista requires service pack 1
  3. marty1990 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 25, 2011
    What if I partitioned the drive - it's only 320GB - 250GB for HFS+ and then 70GB as exFat, that way I can use Time Machine on the larger partition, and just transfer any important files that I want on my Windows machine as well on to the exFat partition?
  4. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
  5. Icy1007 macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2011
    Cleveland, OH
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes, it does.

    Format A Hard Drive Using Disk Utility (which is in your /Applications/Utilities folder)

    Choose the appropriate format:

    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)

    NTFS (Windows NT File System)
    • Read/Write NTFS from native Windows.
    • Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
      [*]To Read/Write/Format NTFS from Mac OS X, here are some alternatives:
      • For Mac OS X 10.4 or later (32 or 64-bit), install Paragon (approx $20) (Best Choice for Lion)
      • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
      • For 64-bit Snow Leopard, read this: MacFUSE for 64-bit Snow Leopard
      • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx $36).
      • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and Lion, but is not advisable, due to instability.
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support NTFS
    • Maximum file size: 16 TB
    • Maximum volume size: 256TB
    • You can use this format if you routinely share a drive with multiple Windows systems.

    exFAT (FAT64)
    • Supported in Mac OS X only in 10.6.5 or later.
    • Not all Windows versions support exFAT. See disadvantages.
    • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support exFAT
    • Maximum file size: 16 EiB
    • Maximum volume size: 64 ZiB
    • You can use this format if it is supported by all computers with which you intend to share the drive. See "disadvantages" for details.

    FAT32 (File Allocation Table)
    • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
      [*]Maximum file size: 4GB.
    • Maximum volume size: 2TB
    • You can use this format if you share the drive between Mac OS X and Windows computers and have no files larger than 4GB.

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