Hard drive format for current Windows/future Mac external HDD

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jgc, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. jgc macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    Hi guys,

    I'll try to be clear as I can. I currently have a Windows 7 laptop that I use as my only computer. I plan on replacing it with a 2012 13" MBA/MBP whenever they come out. I recently broke my external hard drive so I purchased a new Seagate GoFlex FreeAgent 2TB external HDD to use for video/data storage and backups. Being a Mac and external hard drive newbie, I'm just trying to figure out the formatting of the drive.

    I understand it will be formatted as NTFS when it arrives. That's great and I know Mac can write to it but I know in order to do TimeMachine backups in the future I'll need to convert to HFS+. What will be the best way to go by doing this? I was thinking about leaving an NTFS partition of a few hundred gigs and the rest would be HFS+. I may be using this computer again or running Windows 7 via Bootcamp to access some engineering programs that are required for my school and work terms, which is why I would still like some NTFS space. If I move the videos to an HFS+ partition however, will I be unable to access them while on Win7? Or should I leave the videos on the NTFS and only use HFS+ for TimeMachine backups? Ideally I'd be able to watch the videos from both OS X and Win 7.

    I know I'm probably clear as mud at this point but hopefully someone has some suggestions on how to deal with this. I tried using the search function on this forum and on Google but my problem seems to be a bit specific. Cheers.

  2. DockMac macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2008
    FAT is the most compatible between OS X and Win 7. The only problem is that big files bigger than 4GB aren't supported.
  3. jgc thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    Yeah, that's a definite option but I'll be close to that. A lot of my high-def videos are pushing 3+ GB. I looked into it a bit more and it says that if I pay $20 for Paragon then I'll be able to read/write on NTFS instead of just reading (default). This way I can use NTFS for everything except an HFS+ partition for Time Machine. Has anyone done this with good results?
  4. DockMac macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2008
    I've seen posts on other people's success with Paragon. I haven't tried it myself.

    There is also a "free" way to do it, but it's not as easy nor as stable as the Paragon solution.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    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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