Formatting portable drive to work for both PC and Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by johnnyyt, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. johnnyyt macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2013
    i was just offered a pretty good deal on a brand new western digital my passport 2tb drive for mac

    since it comes pre-formatted with hfs+ journaled, with my understanding, this isnt going to work with windows.

    what format would i have to make the drive in order for it to work with both pc and mac AND be able to read & write files over 4gb?
  2. PatriotInvasion macrumors 68000


    Jul 18, 2010
    Boston, MA
    Fat32...but no way around the 4GB file limit.

    My solution: Format as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and ditch all reliance on Windows;)
  3. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    ExFat, but only for files (not System files), reason is that permission won't be saved.
  4. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    This is not entirely true. Your HFS+Journaled drive will work just fine on a Windows computer with MacDrive installed.

    If you want to use the drive with both OS X and Windows, then the decision to reformat should be dictated by how you plan to use the drive:
    1. If you plan to use the drive primarily with Windows, then I recommend NTFS and use a NTFS driver on our Mac. I use the free opensource NTFS-3G. For uncompromised performance, use Paragon's NTFS for Mac® OS X 10 if you use the drive on your Mac often.
    2. If you plan to use the drive primarily as a Mac drive, then I recommend that you do not reformat. Install MacDrive on your Windows computer.
    3. If you know that your drive will be used exclusively with recent versions of Windows and OS X, then you may reformat to exFAT. No additional software is required. However, I personally don't trust exFAT and do not recommend it. However, most people do not share my concerns about exFAT.
  5. johnnyyt thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2013
    thanks for the info.

    i'll mainly be using it with my macbook so i guess it would be better if i just left it as is
    but what if (and i know there will be) times where i need to transfer data to and from a pc, does that mean the only way for me to do that is if that pc has MacDrive installed?

    im leaning more towards NTFS because it works seamlessly with a pc and i can just install Paragon's NTFS for Mac on my macbook
  6. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    I believe Mountain Lion can read NTFS format, just can't write if thats of any use to you.
  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    This may clear a few things up:

    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 ($19.95) (Best Choice for Lion and Mountain Lion)
      • For Mac OS X 10.5 and later, including Lion, FUSE for OS X
      • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
      • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx $36), which is an enhanced version of NTFS-3G with faster performance.
      • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and later versions, 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.
  8. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    Mediafour, the maker of MacDrive, have a new version called MacDrive Pro, which will now support Mac's OS X Disk Utility RAID-0 and RAID-1 drives.

    This means that if you have a multi-drive Thunderbolt device like LaCie's Little Big Disk, 2big, or 5-big formatted for the Mac in RAID-0 or RAID-1, it can also be used with the same format under Windows 7 or 8.

    I have been using it with my HP Spectre XT which supports Thunderbolt, ad seems to work much better than the built-in striping support of Windows 8.

    Check it out at A time-limited demo can be downloaded.
  9. Giuly macrumors 68040


    It's FAT32 without the 4GB limitation. I've never seen anybody that considered it less trustworthy than any other file system yet.
  10. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    I couldn't say it better myself.
  11. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    My recommendation would be to get a cheap NAS drive... and put it on your network. Most can support Windows and OSX simultaneously.

  12. a.coward macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2010
    +1 for ExFAT as long as you not using a version od Windows
    older than Win 7 or Snow Leopard 1.6.5. It's the most portable
    choice, not requiring drivers for most modern OSs. Since the
    My Passport is a small portable drive, you may have a good
    to transporting it to use with other machines, and no other choice
    fits your 4GB and r/w requirement without drivers.
  13. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    I see exFAT as FAT32 with only one FAT instead of the two alternating File Allocation Tables.

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