[HOW TO]: Share an NTFS External Drive between XP and OS X

Discussion in 'macOS' started by baummer, May 8, 2005.

  1. baummer macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2005
    Southern California
    With my recent purchase of a Mac Mini, I was faced with a dilemma. Several months ago I purchased an external USB drive to store backup files and other files related to my work as my existing PC's hard drive was filling rather fast. To take full advantage of XP's formatting system, I formatted the drive to the NTFS format and made a partition for my music files, which I assigned drive letter M: (for music).

    After my purchase of the Mac Mini, I realized I would not be able to utilize the drive on both platforms. I did not want to format the drive to work with the Mini solely, as I still needed to use the PC for work functions.

    After some tinkering and testing, I came about a solution. I will try to be as clear as possible. If you have any questions, feel free to post them here. Note that I am splitting this into two sections, one for those who have Panther, and the other for those who have Tiger. Tiger makes things much easier, but I realize there are a number of users who have yet to upgrade. Also, this solution is intended for users who have to use both platforms and are facing the same dilemma I faced but would prefer to avoid formatting their external drive. It is assumed that the end user has Windows XP and any version of OS X 10.3.x or higher, as well as the necessary LAN equipment in place (e.g. a router and broadband connection).

    1. The first step is to follow the steps edesignuk outlined here.

    2. After those steps have been successfully followed, go to your XP machine. Make sure your external hard drive is connected and powered on. Then, go to Start > My Computer. You should see the list of drives, and your external drive will more than likely be either E, F, or H, or if you have assigned it a drive letter (like I did for music), than select that drive.

    3. Right-click on the drive, and click Sharing and Security.

    4. Click the Sharing tab, and if you are presented with the message: To protect your computer from unauthorized access, sharing the root of a drive is not recommended. If you understand the risk but still want to share the root of the drive, click here., go ahead and click there.

    5. Find where it says "Network sharing and security" and check the box that says Share this folder on the network. Once you've done this, the Share name field will become ungrayed and will allow you to edit the name (should you feel this is appropriate), or you can leave it as it is.

    6. If you want to be able to copy, change, or WRITE (yes, WRITE, this option will allow you to write to the drive from your Mac, even though the drive itself is NTFS formatted), make sure to check the box that says Allow network users to change my files. IMPORTANT: This option will allow anyone with access to your network to modify these files. To avoid this, only enable this when you need to write to the drive. If you are just going to be reading from the drive, you can safely leave this feature unchecked. Once you've done this, click OK.

    7. Now go back to your Mac. Here's where the instructions are split:

    OS X 10.3.x Users:

    1. After ensuring that step 1 above has been completed, go to the Finder and click Go > Connect to Server (or Command-K).

    2. In the Server Address field, type: smb://windowsip/driveletter. So, for example, if I wanted to share my M: drive, I would type: smb://windowsip/M/ and then click Connect.

    3. You will be prompted to enter a username and password, go ahead and do so (unless you've already added this information to your keychain). Note that this username and password should be the same as it is on your XP machine.

    4. You should now see the contents of the drive opened in a finder window :).

    OX X 10.4 Users:

    1. After ensuring that step 1 above has been completed, go to the Finder and click the Network icon.

    2. You should see the Windows workgroup listed (typically MSHOME or Mshome), or if you have changed this, the name of your Windows workgroup that you have it configured to.

    3. Double-click the icon of the Windows workgroup and it should list the names of the computers connected within the Windows workgroup. Find the name of the computer you performed the steps on, and click it once.

    4. To the right, you should see a button that says Connect. Click the Connect button and this will display a SMB/CIFS dialog with a drop-down menu listing all of the shared folders or drives from the XP machine. In my case, I would select the M drive and click the OK button. Enter your XP username and password for that machine (if prompted; if this information has been stored in your Keychain it should automatically connect).

    5. It should now list your external drive on the left and you would navigate it as you would any other OS X directory.

    That's it :)!. A few words relative to this:

    1. Note that transferring large files may take longer than expected, or might even time out. This is not the fastest solution for rapid copying between the external drive and the Mac.

    2. If the XP machine is off, don't expect to be able to use the drive. As with any network computer, if the computer is off, no connection can be made.

    3. Make sure that you follow the steps completely in order for this to work properly.


    You might be wondering why this would be advantageous. Firstly, you can treat the PC/external drive connection as a server. As such, you can save files to it for backup or just use it as a file server.

    In my case, I use it to save my Mini's limited hard drive space by keeping all large files (music, media, etc.) on the drive, while still being able to save from my PC when necessary. I also added the music to my Mac's iTunes library without having to have the files stored locally on the machine.


    I know this was a bit long, but hopefully it as provided some users out there with an efficient way to overcome the same issue I had. This isn't perfect, and I expect there are probably better ways to achieve this, but this worked for me and I wanted to share this with the rest of the MR community. Special thanks to edesignuk's fantastic instructions on the networking between XP and OS X, without those instructions these instructions would not have been possible. And with that, good luck and enjoy your Mac! :)
  2. baummer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2005
    Southern California
    I forgot to mention, make sure to disconnect the connected shares on the Mac (drag the icon that appears on the desktop to the trash) if you are planning on shutting the XP machine down; otherwise you will get an error.

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