optimum file system to format my drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by zoran, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. zoran macrumors 68040

    Jun 30, 2005
    I have a WD Elements 500GB drive. I will be using it to transfer files from a PC (Windows7) to my iMac (SnowLeopard). What would be the optimum file system i should format the drive in order to do this without problems?
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It depends in part on the size files you'll be transferring.

    Format A Hard Drive Using Disk Utility (which is in your /Applications/Utilities folder)
    Choose the appropriate format:
    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 (approx $20) (Best Choice for Lion and later)
      • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
      • For 64-bit Snow Leopard, read this: MacFUSE for 64-bit Snow Leopard
      • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx $36).
      • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and Lion, 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.
  3. PhiLLoW macrumors 6502

    May 31, 2014
    I recommend you to use exFat.

    Those Mac OS X NTFS emulators didn't work 100% for me and I had some issues while testing.

    FAT32 has 3 or 4 GB file limit. ExFat does not - and it works fine for me.
  4. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
  5. 6of1 macrumors newbie


    Jan 1, 2014
    Another vote for exFAT. NTFS may be the "best" choice, but in the event you want to write to the drive from the Apple side, you will need to install a third-party filesystem (Tuxera or Paragon) and I have not had perfect experiences with either.
  6. orestes1984, Oct 18, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014

    orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2005
    I've never had a problem with NTFS for Mac... However, I would use any file system other than FAT which is known to get corrupted at the drop of the hat, or HFS+ which is known to have compatibility issues with Windows/Linux.

    That leaves you two options, buy a decent brand name NTFS driver for Mac such as Paragon's NTFS for Mac and do it that way or use exFAT which is natively universal.

    Either option is pretty good and NTFS is pretty well compatible with Windows and Linux natively these days and OS X with drivers.

    The benefit of NTFS over exFAT is the added layer of file security through permissions. FAT doesn't have a proper set of permissions to stop people gaining access to your files that shouldn't be. HFS+ does but Windows and Linux compatibility with HFS+ drives is not known to be exceptional.
  7. zoran thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jun 30, 2005
    Ok guys im counting on your suggestion, im going with exFAT. I just hope that they will be no issues with broken files while transfer!

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