new to Mac -- external drive question

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by eharrison33, May 2, 2006.

  1. eharrison33 macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2006
    Hello -- I just purchased my first Mac, a MacBook Pro, and have a question -- I have an external drive (a Maxtor 300 GB one) I want to use to share MP3 files between the MacBook and an XP box. What file format should I use on the Maxtor? NTFS? FAT? Something else? Do I need software like MacDrive MediaFour? Please help, thanks.
  2. khisayruou macrumors 6502a


    Aug 21, 2004
    Format into Fat 32, you don't need extra software. Both windows and osx (disk utility) is capable of doing that.
  3. dr_lha macrumors 68000

    Oct 8, 2003
    FAT is your best bet. Works on everything.
  4. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    There is a problem with using FAT(32) with OS X though however that I face. For some reason it doesn't like you copying a very large file (around 10Gb upwards) to a drive in this format from OS X. In order for files this size and over it apparently needs HFS+.

    This is what I found when I researched the problem as to why I couldn't back up my iMovie and iDVD projects over to my external drive to free up much needed hard drive space. Just something to consider.

    However I'm not sure how Windows reads HFS+, if it can.
  5. khisayruou macrumors 6502a


    Aug 21, 2004
    Thats where MacDrive comes in, its a windows software that can read mac disks.
  6. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Windows boxes cannot read/write/see HFS+ without 3rd party software (MacDrive).

    There is a limitation in FAT32 that a 4GB file is the max size of a single file. Nothing to do with OS X or Windows, it's an inherent limitation of FAT32.

    Mac OS X "has limited write capabilities" to NTFS (translation: It won't work 99.999% of the time), so don't use NTFS.
  7. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    Really? Thanks for that.

    I only say 10Gb as that was the size of the files I was trying to move!

    That actually seems really bad, I thought it was just how OS X reads FAT drives, didn't realise it was deeper into FAT itself!
  8. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Remember that 4GB would have been a HUGE monster drive not too many years ago, and was the size limit for FAT16 drives for the same reason as it remains the file size for FAT32.

    4 GB = 4x1024x1024x1024 is the biggest number you can represent with 32 bits.

    You could always just split/concat, zip or rar any larger files to less than 4 GB and still use a FAT32 drive as a go-between from HFS+ to NTFS drives. I don't know why but I don't trust third party file system drivers on Windows. Or maybe it's just Windows I don't trust....

  9. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    Very true.

    Thanks for your words of knowledge. :)

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