intialize external HD for mac and pc

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by stevez.r, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. stevez.r macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2009
    I need to use an external HD on both a mac and a pc. I know the only way is to format it with a FAT32 file system, wich I did.
    problem is:

    1) I tried to format it from winXP (using the ms-dos command line "format x:\ fs:fat32", more or less) and it worked. the pc recognizes it and is able to read and write. BUT, the mac is only able to read from it, not to write or to erase anything.

    2) next step, I initialized it with mac's disk utility, selecting MS-DOS (FAT) as file system. It works great on the mac, BUT I'm not even able to see it on the pc. More specifically, it appears the sistray icon to expel it, it is recognized by device manager and by partition manager (or something similar, a program in admistrative tools) but it is not among the drives in my computer.

    what is it wrong? what should i do?

    many thanks for your help
  2. Bennieboy© macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2009
    i think you need to set the partitions up on the mac, then format the mac part to mac os jounaled and the pc side to hfs and it should work, i had this kinda thing recently with a flash drive
  3. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    He wants to share the files on the hard drive, not have a part on the drive for each OS.

    When you formatted the drive on Windows to FAT did you verify afterward that it was actually FAT? The not being able to write to the disk sounds like it may have become NTFS. You may also want to try a 3rd party app for formatting. I don't much care for Window's built-in methods.

    Not sure why formatting from Mac didn't work though. I've never had issues when I format my drives and use them with Windows.
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Just initialize the drive as NTFS on your Win box, then install both freewares Macfuse and NTFS-3g on your Mac. Both computers can then read and write to the drive.
  5. stevez.r thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2009
    you're right, i just checked and it's formatted as NTFS! don't know why.

    btw, this is the real issue. why doesn't windows recognize it?? as far as I know, the only limit of a FAT file system is that it can't handle files bigger than 4 GB. i don't have any.
    it's a lacie 1TB external HD, is this useful?
  6. stevez.r thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2009
    I did as you said, and it works!

  7. i.shaun macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2008
    it should have been FAT32 in OS X, but sometimes it doesn't quite work.

    You need to go to the "partition" tab, even if you plan to format the entire thing, then click the "options" button, select "master boot record", and in the drop down list, select "MS DOS Format (FAT32)"

    It should then format it to FAT32, and be readable by windows and other devices.

    I wouldn't bother re-formatting if you got the Mac FUSE & NTFS 3G programs. NTFS is a better file system, it just doesn't work on any other devices (like a Playstation 3 for example).

    If its just for use between computers, NTFS is perfect.

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