How do I transfer large files from PC to Mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by snerkler, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. snerkler macrumors 6502a

    Feb 14, 2012
    I have a portable external hard drive that I am going to use to transfer files from my PC to my MBP when it arrives next week. I have formatted the external drive as FAT32 so that it is readable/writeable by both systems. However, FAT32 only permits single files up to 4GB and I have a handful of video clips that are more than 4GB. How do I transfer these to the MBP?


    P.S. I do have another external drive that is in NTFS if there's a way you can get read and transfer files from this?
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Can this help:


    Overview of the four major file systems (called "Formats" in Mac OS X) used on Windows and Mac OS X, compiled by GGJstudios. You can use Disk Utility to format any HDD to your liking.

    Any external hard drive will work with PCs or Macs, as long as the connectors are there (Firewire, USB, etc.) It doesn't matter how the drive is formatted out of the box, since you can re-format any way you like. Formatting can be done with the Mac OS X Disk Utility, found in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Here are your formatting options:

    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. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Format it to NTFS.

    OS X can read but not write NTFS file systems. So you will have to add and delete files to the drive under Windows, but you can easily copy them from the drive while on your Mac.

    An alternative would be to format it to exFAT, which can be done in Windows 7 and, if I recall, Windows Vista. This would allow both systems to read and write.
  4. snerkler thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 14, 2012
    Thanks guys. I didn't realise Mac can read NTFS. That's fine then, as long as I can transfer to the Mac that's all I need for now. I could format to exFAT at a later date if I ever need to.
  5. danielpunk macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2012
    Easiest way to do it would be to get a thumb drive and migrate files that way. Another options would be to use an Ethernet Cable to transfer documents back and forth. If you PC has firewire, you could boot your Mac into Target Disk Mode (if you Mac has FireWire) and connect it to the PC, but it is unlikely the PC would be able to read the File System on the Mac without additional software.

    Lastly, if they are both connected to the same network, open System Preferences on your Mac, go to the "Sharing" control panel and turn on File Sharing and set preferences for a folder on the Mac. Then connect to that folder from your PC (Map Network Drive) and drag and drop over the network.

    for more info click onto the link:
  6. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia

    use the network it will be much faster.

    rather than going through USB2/Firewire, you'll be going direct over gigabit ethernet - plus, you'll only need to copy ONCE (direct from source to destination) rather than source -> external drive -> destination.
  7. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    USB flash memory thumb drive most probably use FAT32, thus larger files like the OP has will not work with those, though one can easily format such USB flash memory thumb drive. An external HDD via USB is cheaper and faster though, as USB flash memory thumb drives are often limited in their read and write speeds (2 to 20 MB/s).
    When using a network connection (Ethernet or Firewire), the file system doesn't matter, as the network protocol translates the transfer.
  8. snerkler thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 14, 2012
    Thanks. I don't have a network set up so this is not an option unfortunately. Everything is already backed up on the external drives anyway so I wouldn't have to transfer the files twice.
  9. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    "Setting up the network" is plugging one cable in your pc and one in your mac. It will also transfer faster than USB (480 Mbps vs LAN 1000 Mbps).

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