Is it possible to use an external hdd on both PC and mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Mookout, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Mookout macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2007

    Im tossing up between a WD passport and a OWC on the go...

    Just wondering if once I have it, will I be able to for instance, put stuff on it on my intel imac with the firewire cable, then take it and a usb cable to my friends place and hook it up to his PC no worries?

    OR is it a case of it needing to be formatted for one or the other? Something to do with FAT32 and NTFS right???

  2. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    To use on a PC you'll need to format it FAT32 or NTFS.

    Macs don't support writing to NTFS natively, but installing MacFUSE and NTFS-3G gives you this ability (although, I think there are some performance issues with writing to NTFS outside of Windows ... not sure of the details, can't be bothered looking it up.)

    If you were using it yourself on a PC, you could format the HDD as HFS+ and install MacDrive on the PC, but that's not really an option if you're attaching to arbitrary PCs.
  3. TEG macrumors 604


    Jan 21, 2002
    Langley, Washington
    You will have to use FAT32, because OS X can only read NTFS, not write to it. That is, unless you get a utility to allow writing to NTFS.

    As for the connections, that depends on the chipset of your drive. Some support dual connections, but most do not. Your best bet would be to connect the disk to a system like the Airport Extreme to turn it into a NAS, then both computers could access it with no problem.

  4. Mookout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2007
    wait so by default, what would an external hdd be formatted to? Fat32 or ntfs?

    And if its formatted to FAT32, itll work as a mass storage device for both pc and mac? Whats the downside to FAT32

  5. juanster macrumors 68020


    Mar 2, 2007
    FAt 32 can only transfer files no bigge than 4gb....
  6. BigHungry04 macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2008
    FAT 32 would be what you need to format the drive in. The downside to FAT 32 is that it can not support files bigger than 4GB.
  7. lakerslive2004 macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2008

    You can actually format the drive as HFS+ (Mac OS X, Journaled), and install MacDrive on your PC so that it can read/write it. Also, you can format as NTFS and download a program that lets you read/write to an NTFS partition on your mac. I think it depends on which you use more, and whether or not you want to use Time Machine. If you want to use Time Machine, you NEED HFS+ and MacDrive. Otherwise, NTFS will be fine.
  8. toolbox macrumors 68020


    Oct 6, 2007
    Australia (WA)
    I tried this once with a external drive was about 320 gB. I partitioned it in half one for my mac to use with time machine and the other for my windows rig.

    You can't have it plugged into both computers at once. eg, you can't have it connected via firewire on the mac and then plug in the usb cable and connect it to the windows machine.

    This was taken from the microsoft website.

  9. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes, but the limit of 4GB is per file.
  10. toolbox macrumors 68020


    Oct 6, 2007
    Australia (WA)
    Yeah its cool man i no that, how ever i was just saying that it supports 2 tb drives.
  11. Mookout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2007
    So what does it come from the factory as then? If NTFS needs extra software, and FAT32 only holds files that are 4gb or less, which one would it be?

    I think then Id use NTFS formatting and then get the software that lets me write to it. Then Id be able to hook it up to a friends PC later on and share the big files right?
    Whats the downside?

    the best software option is MacFUSE and NTFS-3G ??

  12. emac82 macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2007
    NB, Canada
    I have 2 external hard drives.

    One is a 160GB USB 2.0, which is formatted to FAT32, I don't really have any files that are over 4GB, except for a few movies I did up in iMovie, so I backup everything there.

    I have a 500GB MyBook, which is formatted half for Mac OS Journaled, which I used for Time Machine, and the other for FAT32, so I use on both Mac/Windows.

    I would go FAT32, UNLESS you have a lot of files over 4GB..
  13. CarlsonCustoms macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2007
    I have used macdrive to write and read hfs drives on my xp box. It worked well for what it was.

    but yeah formatting fat32 works too.
  14. amac4me macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2005
    Some Lacie external drives allow you to partition the drive into a Mac partition and a Windows partition.

    An ideal example is the LaCie Rugged Hard Disk

    When you plug in the drive the LaCie's Setup Assistant kicks off and asks you if you want to partition the drive for use with a Mac and gives you the option to set aside up to 32GB as Fat32 to share with Windows PCs.
  15. Mookout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2007
    So aside from using third party software, whats the downside to formatting it as NTFS???

    And Im guessing it normally comes formatted as HFS right?

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