NTFS on Mac?

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by Kirkle, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. Kirkle macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2012
    I've had Macs before and then I'd switch back to Windows, or build a computer and run Linux, etc (interestingly the most reliable, best performing machine I ever owned was a Dell). This year though, I ordered an iMac 27 which I plan to use as my main computer for the next five years (that's my plan at least). The problem is that I have a fair amount of back-up and archive material on external drives (~4TB). Is it prudent to format all of these drives for Mac or should I just leave them as NTFS? As stated, this is largely backup material, so, in theory, I would only ever be reading from the drives (and, from what I understand Macs can still read from NTFS drives).

    While leaving everything in its current format would be the simplest, a part of me says I should jump in and reformat everything for the Mac system. I am slightly concerned if this would be wise... I suppose I'm questioning how committed I am to the Mac ecosystem at this point.

    So what would you, more experienced, Mac users recommend, should I:
    1. convert all my data for Mac,
    2. leave it all in NTFS and then transfer material over to my Mac as needed
    3. or should I do some kind of split based on likelihood of usage?

    Should I jump into the Mac ecosystem or leave a foot planted in the Windows world?

    I'm a bit torn about this; could use some experienced advice.
  2. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    For you ?

    Number 2

    I might add though. In order to use Time Machine backups you will need a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) disk.
  3. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    This. (i.e. #2 as Peace said).

    Personally I think you need to think if you are likely to have both or even both on your Mac via Boot Camp.

    I have a mixed environment (mostly Mac) and use a NAS to share and abstract between the OSes. i.e. Mac OS X can write to an NTFS drive if it is attached to a Windows PC or NAS device and shared from there. (Just like Windows can read/write to an HFS+ drive that is shared on the network.

  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)

    NTFS (Windows NT File System)
    • Read/Write NTFS from native Windows.
    • Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
      [*]To Read/Write/Format NTFS from Mac OS X, here are some alternatives:
      • For Mac OS X 10.4 or later (32 or 64-bit), install Paragon ($19.95) (Best Choice for Lion and Mountain Lion)
      • For Mac OS X 10.5 and later, including Lion, FUSE for OS X
      • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
      • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx $36), which is an enhanced version of NTFS-3G with faster performance.
      • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and later versions, but is not advisable, due to instability.
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support NTFS
    • Maximum file size: 16 TB
    • Maximum volume size: 256TB
    • You can use this format if you routinely share a drive with multiple Windows systems.

    exFAT (FAT64)
    • Supported in Mac OS X only in 10.6.5 or later.
    • Not all Windows versions support exFAT. See disadvantages.
    • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support exFAT
    • Maximum file size: 16 EiB
    • Maximum volume size: 64 ZiB
    • You can use this format if it is supported by all computers with which you intend to share the drive. See "disadvantages" for details.

    FAT32 (File Allocation Table)
    • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
      [*]Maximum file size: 4GB.
    • Maximum volume size: 2TB
    • You can use this format if you share the drive between Mac OS X and Windows computers and have no files larger than 4GB.
  5. Kirkle thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2012
    Thanks for all the replies.

    It does seem a bit like the choice is between running everything in HFS and using MacDrive, or running everything in NTFS and using Paragon, since, the more I think about it, I am sure that at some point I'll end up having to jostle files back and forth (and I'm not currently running a NAS). Wish these OSes offered native support for the other's format.

    The only reason I'm considering going through the bother of reformatting everything would be for superior performance/stability when dealing with my archived material on the Mac. If you all don't foresee any major hurdles I may just leave all as is, and keep my files in NTFS.

    Also, a question that just occurred to me: I have traditionally ran a great many things on virtual machines, and I intend to carry this practice over to my new Mac (might give Parallels a try though, since that seems to be the preferred software for Macs). When running Windows in VM on a Mac, is it possible to read/write to NTFS in the same manner as when running on a native Windows machine?
  6. JoelBC macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    I am in the same situation as you except that I use a NAS drive...I have decided to leave things as they are which means:

    1. All the files on my NAS have been left as is and can be read / written to by both my OS X and Windows machines.

    2. All the files on my USB NTFS drives have been left as they are and can be read / written to by both my OS X (using NTFS for Mac) and Windows machines.

    3. All the files on my OS X machine are backup up on an HFS+ drive.

    Also, files can also be transferred via my home network which is easiest. In the end, just need to keep things straight.
  7. Jaypi macrumors regular


    Nov 10, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Just use Tuxera NTFS e.g. and you can read/write NTFS without installing Windows.
  8. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Generally, yes. I personally prefer this over the third party read/write drivers, but that's just my humble opinion.

  9. Kirkle thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2012
    Just as a hypothetical:

    Let's say you go over to Paragon Software's site and download the HFS+ for Windows driver and NTFS for Mac OSX driver.

    You install the driver for HFS+ on your Windows machine, and the one for NTFS on your Macintosh. Now both your computers can read/write for either format, correct? (which it would be great if they could do this natively anyway...)

    Now which file system would you choose for your externally-housed files?

    Based on what I've read on this site, I tend to lean a bit more toward NTFS. I've never had an NTFS drive become corrupted, but it seems as though quite a few people here have had their HFS+ drives give them errors.

    Any thoughts?
  10. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    If it is archive material that you aren't wanting to change, then perhaps using readonly NTFS support in OS X could be a good idea.

    If it's read only, you can't accidentally delete/corrupt it.

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