Hard drive formats

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jimmy83, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. jimmy83 macrumors 65816

    Aug 21, 2008
    Portsmouth, UK
    Whats the best format to us? Ieally want cross compatibility with Windows...
    NTFS / FAT or HFS+ ?
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Technically, Mac OS does not natively write to NTFS drives. For native support, you will want to use FAT; however....


    I haven't tried the above, but it should work just fine. I don't use boot camp (I use VM's for windows since I rarely ever game).
  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    ExFAT for cross compatibility.
  4. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Are you talking about a OS X boot drive or just a shared data drive? I'm not sure NTFS or exFAT can even be used as a boot format for OS X.

    I used exFAT for a data drive, but even then it had problems so I don't recommend it any more. I couldn't find any OS X nor Windows backup software that would recognize exFAT drives. Occasionally Windows would think the drive was corrupt and would not provide write access until a chkdsk was performed. Chkdsk would then find zero errors, and write access would be restored. This cycle happened about once a week for a few months and then mysteriously stopped.

    If it's a boot drive, I'd format for HFS+ Journaled. Windows will have read access when you install the boot camp drivers. If you really need write access too you can install third party software.

    If it's a data drive, I'd format for NTFS if Windows is your main OS or HFS+ Journaled if OS X is your main OS. The "other" OS will have read access and you can install third party software for write access.
  5. dasx macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2012
    I'd rather go for HFS+ (Mac's default) and use a Linux partition to share it with Windows than having my drive in NTFS. One of the worst filesystems ever. DUH
  6. jimmy83 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Aug 21, 2008
    Portsmouth, UK
    Thanks guys, appreciate the advice.

    The HDD will be just for data and I will make a copy of it as a backup. It will probably have just photos on it and maybe a Time Machine backup.

    I will leave the stock HDD as it is. Long term I would like a server of sorts to house all of my HDD's. I use both OSX and Win, but won't be using Win much more as I want to switch to Mac.

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