Help copying huge file from PC to Mac using external drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Ecualung, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Ecualung macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2009
    Hi all,

    Here is my predicament:

    I need to copy a very large series of files (412 GB total) from a windows computer at an institution onto an external hard drive that I can then read on my Mac. The files are simply lots and lots (LOTS) of PDFs in a series of nested folders. No windows programs or anything like that.

    Today, I tried bringing my 1 TB usb hard drive to the institution. I have been using this hard drive to make Super Duper backups only. There is plenty of empty space on the hard drive (enough to accommodate the 412 GB I need to copy).

    When I inserted the drive into the windows computer, the PC never recognized the drive. So I couldn't copy the files onto it.

    Here are the options I'm considering. I don't know if either works.

    1. Erase my external usb drive and re-partition it into two 500 GB drives. One I will continue to use for my Super Duper backups (my internal hard drive is only 500 GB) and the other I could use to store that 412 GB archive of PDFs that I need. However, is it possible to re-format and partition in such a way that ONE partition will be usable by Super Duper and the OTHER will be recognized by a windows PC when inserted? If so, how can I do this?

    2. Buy a new external USB drive large enough to fit the 412 GB file I need. I'm in Ecuador right now, so such hard drives are not as cheap as they are in the US, so I'd like to avoid this route if possible. If I do this, how can I ensure that I will be able to access and read the PDFs once I take them home to my mac? If I plug the new external drive into a PC to copy the files, will it then be usable on my mac?

    I know that there are different formatting standards for Windows and Mac. But I thought that since the files are just PDFs, I should be able to grab them off of the hard drive regardless of its formatting.

    Obviously, getting the files e-mailed to me isn't an option, nor would be burning them onto a series of DVDs because it would take forever and I don't technically have access to the PCs at the institution-- I need the people who work there to help me do this file transfer.

    Anyway, any advice would be much appreciated.
  2. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    I don't know how Super Duper works so I can't answer #1. As for #2, OS X can read a drive formatted by Windows (ANY format that Windows can read/write) but it will only also be able to write to a FAT 32 file system.

    I other words, if you buy a drive and write to it from Windows the Mac will be able to read it but may not be able to write to it.

    Keep in mind, my experience only applies to Lion and Mountain Lion with a VERY short time on Snow Leopard...
  3. Stooby Mcdoobie, Sep 3, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012

    Stooby Mcdoobie macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    Yes, option one will work just fine. It's how I have one of my external drives set up, in fact. Just erase the drive and create two partitions in Disk Utility. Make one of the partitions Mac OS Journaled, Extended (HFS+) for SuperDuper! and the other *exFAT or MS-DOS (FAT32). Then, just re-clone your HDD to the HFS+ partition.

    *You may have to re-format this partition when you get to Windows if you go with exFAT. I have experienced some issues using an exFAT drive that was formatted by OS X while in Windows, but the opposite (using a Windows formatted exFAT with OS X) has not given me any issues.
  4. Ecualung thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2009
    Many, many thanks to both of you. I will try re-making my drive into two partitions and see how that works. It probably will! If not, then I'll go with the option of buying a new dedicated drive for the task.

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