How do I format a Windows File Server?


macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 25, 2004
Ok, this may be a silly question, as I do not know a whole lot about servers. My goal is to set up a windows server at home, attach an eSATA Raid 5 array (5-1TB) drives, and then put networked home directories for my macs, and roaming profiles for my windows machines. Right now I only have a couple of windows machines (not including the server), and 1 mac, but I am planning to get another mac soon, and eventually transition almost everything to macs.

It seems that macs prefer the HFS+ file system and windows prefer NTFS, etc. My understanding is that Macs can read NTFS fine, but can't reliably write to NTFS. Now I know that I can set up sharing between the two using SMB, but my question is what exactly do I format the RAID array in? I assume it is formatted in NTFS, and shared over SMB, but does this then mean that my Macs will be able to read and WRITE to shares on the NTFS formatted file server?

As you can see, I have a lot to learn, and I have googled and googled, but I can't seem to find anything that answers this specifically. I read edesignuk's thread on networking windows with OsX, but I am still confused on the whole file system thing...

Also, I know that Linux is a good option, and the "server" that I was going to use for a windows, is currently running Linux, and formated in NFS. The reason I want to switch to windows server is that I have a 1-TB NTFS external drive that I could directly attach, and the active directory seems easier to setup than the LDAP in Linux. Still, I haven't ruled it out.

Thanks for any insight.:confused:


macrumors 6502
May 12, 2007
I have a setup at home that sounds similar to what you want to do: a Windows 2000 server (Dell PowerEdge) running as an AD domain controller with a 1TB RAID-5 internal array formatted as NTFS. Macs coexist quite nicely in this network environment...I can access shares on the server, and network credentials can be stored in the Keychain. I just do simple share access and have not bothered with setting up my Macs for domain logon, but it apparently is possible for a Mac to behave nearly identically to a Windows client in an Active Directory domain--see here for starters. The file system on the server is largely irrelevant to the Mac, because you are communicating with the server via network protocols--the server OS handles the actual read/write operations to the server array.

As you're new to servers, I'd highly recommend one of Mark Minasi's reference books (there is one for each version of Windows Server). He provides a wealth of information on server configuration and operation, and he writes in a clear and highly engaging style.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2005
LOL wow amazing, another home poweredge user :)

I've got a Dell poweredge (dual PIII 1.4Ghz, 2GB) two seperate 250GB mirror sets for data and an external 500GB HD for backup. Its running Win2k server with active directory. Fileserver, FTP, HTTP and Mail. WOrking great and a cheap box too. The server itself was free but the RAM I paid $100 for.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2005
LOL no. It was from my place of work. They just purchased some quad opteron DL385s so they decomissioned these and were going to recycle them. I could have one so I took this one here.

What I did with mine though is I removed the SCSI backplane but I used the hotswap drive holders to hold standard SATA drives and a single 68pin SCSI drive. I'm running the 68pin SCSI drive as boot/swap and I'm running 4x250GB SATA off a 4 port SATA controller in a software raid5 config.

Didnt feel like springing for 80pin SCSI drives for simple network storage space :)

Server fell off a truck somewhere? :D
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