Management of NTFS Partitions using eSATA

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by ICEBreaker, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. ICEBreaker macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    Dear forum members,

    I am a long time PC user and am considering migrating to the iMac. I realise that the Mac Pro is probably more suited for me, but its price tag is prohibitive and I am entranced by the iMac's beauty. The Leopard interface is elegant and I think I will enjoy computing in such an environment. However, practicality dictates that I must continue to use XP/Solaris applications. Parallels Desktop grants me the freedom to do so.

    My PC currently houses half a dozen hard disks with close to 30-40 NTFS and Linux formatted partitions spanning across the array. Needless to say, I intend to continue using these hard disks and the data stored within them. I do however, have three major concerns, as follows:

    [1] Peripheral Connectivity - Since I will be abandoning my existing PC, I shall need to remove my hard disks, and place them into a multi-bay HD enclosure. I imagine I will be using eSATA, since it has the fastest data transfer speeds. However, a quick review of the iMac's specifications does not suggest the existence of an eSATA port. This is not surprising. Nonetheless, is there a way to implement eSATA connectivity, without creating a bottleneck in the bandwidth?

    [2] Firewire / IEEE 1394b - The iMacs adopted the Firewire 800 which supports 786mbps. This is only 32% of eSATA's 2400mbps. However, if it is really not possible to use eSATA with the iMac, I suppose Firewire would be an alternative to consider. One of my major requirements is partition management. Can Firewire support this? I anticipate the use of Partition Magic residing within a virtualised Windows Vista/XP to control the external SATA disks. Does anyone have any experience with this scenario?

    [3] Partition Management - As mentioned above, partition management is an important requirement. A search seems to suggest that no Mac software can adjust the size of partitions - they can merely create or delete partitions. Am I mistaken on this issue? Furthermore, can HFS+ and NTFS formatted partitions co-exist on the same disk. If so, which software is used to manage them.

    I think if Apple is serious about winning over PC users, they should consider NTFS compatibility.

    Thank you in advance for your kind suggestions.

    - - -
  2. ICEBreaker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    Let me rephrase the question above, because it seems as if I am not going to get any help whatsoever otherwise.

    Question 1: Is it possible to have a multiple Hard Disk enclosure with one single Firewire output?
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    The Mac can read, imperfectly, NTFS volumes but cannot write to them. Retaining a multi-volume NTFS set or mixed NTFS and HFS+ is not advisable in a Mac OSX environment.

    The short answer may be - retain a PC to use as a fileserver. Use Gigabit Ethernet between the Mac and the PC fileserver.

    No Macintosh has an eSATA connection. You can get eSATA boards for the MacPro PCI-e and for the MacBook Pro Expresscard slot. eSATA is a lost cause on the iMac - the machine is not meant for workstation-style expandability.

    Mac OSX does not support soft partition management -- there is some juju you can do at the command line level, (Like what Bootcamp does) but that it for the hardcore user only.

    You can get multibay Firewire 400 and 800 solutions for SATA and IDE drives. Wiebetech is the first brand that comes to mind who have a comprehensive set of options.

    Apple cannot consider NTFS compatibility for its users, because the format is a closed, proprietary Microsoft standard. Talk to Microsoft if you ever want to see that change. Don't hold your breath.

    You're going to crash up against a fundamental truth: an iMac is not the machine for a user who wants to run multiple hard drives. This is like a bus driver looking at a Ferrari, and saying "what solution does this car offer for carrying 30 schoolkids?" You are going to be much happier with a MacPro. OR - you are going to be much happier once you have made a paradigm shift about what you want from your computer.
  4. ICEBreaker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    Hi CanadaRAM,

    Thank you for your reply, which I found to be useful. I agree with your suggestions, and will retain my current PC as a fileserver with connection to the iMac via a Gigabit LAN. This way, I can perform all the soft partition management via Windows. Only the OS itself will be virtualised as a 10GB file on the iMac, while everything else will lie on the PC/fileserver. My initial concern about connection speeds is no longer a requirement since the file management is performed within the PC/fileserver itself and not communicated through the iMac connection (i.e. backup of entire partitions).

    Thanks for your comments about NTFS. It is true that Microsoft would never allow this final barrier to be opened, in the same way that no other OS will allow inter-compatibility.

    The reason why I wanted an iMac and Mac OS is for its looks and interface. Using your Ferrari analogy, what I'll do, as per your suggestion, is to drive the Ferrari myself, and get someone else to drive the bus behind me. I guess I'll always need both Mac and PC then. That's OK by me, as long as I get the best of both worlds. Besides, in the Apple ads, don't you just love BOTH the characters? Life would be boring without any one of them.

    Thanks again CanadaRAM for your reply.
  5. dwmusic macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2008
    NTFS on Mac

    There is a mod I have seen at that allows you to force the Mac to be able to write to NTFS formatted drives. I have been having my own issues with a Firewire Western Digital not being able to read audio files on Vista via NTFS, and even worse on FAT, however it reads perfectly on USB2. Needless to say, all types of connection viz. Firewire and USB read perfectly out of the box on the Mac. Any problems I have with my various computers are ALWAYS with the awful Windows in general, and in particular Vista platform.

    Derek Williams.
  6. ICEBreaker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    Hi DWMUSIC, thanks for you reply! It's been nearly one year since my thread opened. I am now a proud owner of an iMac, and I have implemented the strategy discussed with great success and satisfaction.

    As for MacFuse, I am using that too, in order to move files from the Mac partition to my boot camp partition. If I am more ambitious next time, I might use MacFuse only and forgo the PC fileserver, but I do not really want to risk it. I have not tried to use Partition Magic on the boot camp partition yet. I will probably start a thread to see if anyone has done so.
  7. dwmusic macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2008
    NTFS on Mac

    Hello IceBreaker, nice to hear you've got it up and running!

    My issue with slow FireWire performance on my Western Digital drive when running under Vista in the Firewire port, but perfectly well under MacOS through any port, and under Vista using USB2 is solved by patches in SP1:

    Answer Title: A FireWire (1394) drive is no longer available when a Vista computer resumes from sleep mode or the drive is reconnected to the Vista computer system.
    Answer Link:
    Answer Title: Performance issues occur when a FireWire (1394) hard drive is connected to a Vista computer using a VIA 1394 controller.
    Answer Link:

    As regards the NTFS MacFuse tweak, there is an all important blog referred to at the end of the post:
    Latest post (update) May 30, 2008
    You will find - Download NTFS-3G 1.2531 [ublio] & [Stable] - I chose [ublio]
    Install -this will require a Restart
  8. ICEBreaker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    Thank you DWMUSIC for your links. I will not be using Firewire, as its native speeds is too slow. I have been using a LAN connection. Although this requires a PC to act as a fileserver, it's fine with me for the time being. I've been using MacFuse to move files into my boot camp partition, and it works fine.

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