Hard drive to move from PC to Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by pbcpbc, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. pbcpbc macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2011
    #1
    Hi,

    Total newbie here. I am planning to move from PC to Mac in the next few months and I'm looking for advice on an affordable hard drive (preferably portable) that I could use now to back up files on my aging PC but use later with a new Mac. Have been searching online for a while but not finding anything that deals precisely with this situation.

    Thank you for any suggestions you can offer.
     
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
    You can use any drive, as long as it's formatted properly. You can format the drive either on the PC or the Mac. You'll most likely want to use NTFS or exFAT.

    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.
    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.
    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)
    • Read/Write HFS+ from native Mac OS X
    • Required for Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! backups of Mac internal hard drive.
      [*]To Read/Write HFS+ from Windows, Install MacDrive
      [*]To Read HFS+ (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer
    • Maximum file size: 8EiB
    • Maximum volume size: 8EiB
    • You can use this format if you only use the drive with Mac OS X, or use it for backups of your Mac OS X internal drive, or if you only share it with one Windows PC (with MacDrive installed on the PC)
    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.
     
  3. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    GGJ's advice is spot on.

    To be more directive... almost any portable drive that you buy from a major retailer is probably already formatted NTFS as long as PC compatibly is stated. Hard drives (HDDs) are rising in price sharply because of the flooding in Thailand... and supply is not expected to stabilize prior to your migration to a Mac. If you are a Costco member, they often have reasonable prices. I recently bought a 1.5 TB USB 3 portable HDD from them for about $120. Prices may have climbed higher, and in your case, it is probably not worth it to wait.

    With the NTFS drive, you will be able to read/write from your PC... and you should copy all of the data that you want to migrate onto that HDD. You will then be able to move the HDD to a USB port on your Mac, and read data from that HDD and copy it onto your Mac directly.

    At that point you need to make a decision. If you want to be able to write that drive from your Mac... then you will need to reformat the drive. This will erase all of the data, but that is OK because you have already migrated it to your Mac. I would recommend formatting it to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). You will then be able to use the drive on your Mac as a backup destination for Time Machine, which is the local backup program that is part of the Mac OS. It is a great program.

    My recommendation is to buy a sufficiently large HDD with your backup needs in mind. That way you once you complete your data migration, the drive will still have value for continual backup of your data.

    Hope this helps.

    /Jim
     
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #4
    ...unless the OP needs to continue to share the drive between Mac and Windows boxes, once the initial file transfer is completed.
     
  5. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #5
    Correct... I was just trying to show a path where the new HDD could remain valuable as a backup device (which should be performed anyway)... and to make sure the OP comprehends the size requirements needed for backup HDDs.

    /Jim
     
  6. pbcpbc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2011
    #6
    Thank you

    Thank you all for the helpful advice.
     

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