How to choose an external drive.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by gtanner00, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. gtanner00, Jun 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014

    gtanner00 macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Hi again. It seems like I am asking far too many questions but I am purchasing my first Mac and am looking forward to my transition to becoming an OS X power user.

    Anyways, I am now looking at portable drives. Ideally I want to be able to get a 1 TB drive and partition ~60% of it as a time machine (hfs+) and the other 40% as FAT or similar for use as a drive to transfer files between any PC or Mac.

    I realize that I will have to go about formatting the drive for my situation but I wanted advice about whether going for the Mac vs PC variants make any difference.

    Currently I am looking at the Seagate backup plus slim which I can get for $70 while the Mac version is $90-$100. I would guess that on top of being preformatted for Mac the latter would also include OS X utilities. Wouldn't those be erased upon formatting? Is there a way to use the Mac utilities on the cheaper drive formatted on HFS+? I hope what I am saying makes sense.

    Also are there any other suggestions for similar inexpensive 1tb drives?
  2. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    The main differences between the "for Mac" version of external drives and the ones that are not "for Mac" are the file system the drive ships formatted for and the tools that come on the drive. If you plan to format/partition the drive anyway, no need to spend the extra money on a "for Mac" drive.

    I use a 2 TB WD My Passport drive that was the "standard" one, rather than the "for Mac" version. I split it similarly, 75% is my TM partition, 25% is ExFAT for transferring stuff to/from a PC if needed (haven't needed to in 2 years).
  3. gtanner00 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Good to know. I want to be able to store 10 years worth of family digital photographs and. It have to use time machine to access them.
  4. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Something is missing in your post. You don't want to be using Time Machine to access 10 years of family digital photographs. If these are irreplaceable you want multiple backups (at least three, really!) and at least one in a different physical location, not tethered to your computer.
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    They are all the same. The one you mentioned is fine, or just get whatever you can find on sale and just format it how you want in OS X Disk Utility.
  6. gtanner00 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2014
    I don't think you read the OP. I want 60% time machine and 40% FAT or similar.
  7. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I read the OP. It's your followup I don't understand. "and" what? And why do you need to use time machine to access them? That scares me since Time Machine is known to fail.

  8. gtanner00 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2014
    I wrote the above post wrong. I don't want to use time machine to access the photos.
    I want a regular time machine backup for simple documents etc. Then I want a separate partition for regular file and photo storage which will be copied over from another drive. There are many backups already of these photos so I don't worry about losing them too much.
  9. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    There is no such thing as a Mac or PC hard drive. All hard drives will work, as long as the connectors are there. They may come pre-formatted for Mac or Windows, but you can always partition and reformat to your liking.
    If there are any files or apps that come pre-installed on a drive, you can copy those to your Mac before formatting the external drive. Then copy them back. I've never seen any utilities bundled with an external drive that I found useful.
    If you have the photos on an existing external drive, you can plug that into your Mac and drag the files to your new HFS+ formatted external drive. If you plan to continue to share the new external drive between OS X and Windows, there are better formats to use than FAT, namely NTFS or exFAT. Of course you need a HFS+ partition for TM backups.

    Format A Hard Drive Using Disk Utility (which is in your /Applications/Utilities folder)
    Choose the appropriate format:
    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive) 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 and later)
      • 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.
    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.
    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.

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