Please help - External Hard Drive Back-up problems

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MaxMac29, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. MaxMac29 macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2012

    Can someone please help be urgently with this as I am stressing out a little. I recently sold my iMac in order to get a Windows PC (compatibility issues, not really from choice!), and I used an external hard drive to export all the files in a raw format (i.e. JPGs, not 'iPhoto Library') so I can copy them across.

    I've just plugged in the hard drive to the windows PC and there seems to be nothing there! I then plugged the external hard drive into my MacBook Air and all the files are on the hard drive. Can someone tell me how I can get these files onto the PC? I'm quite happy to buy another external hard drive to shuttle the files over if that is needed.

    Thanks very much in advance!
  2. Mike Oxard macrumors 6502a

    Mike Oxard

    Oct 22, 2009
    What is the format of the external? I don't think PC's can read HFS+ drives, which is what it likely is. If you can copy them onto the air, reformat (erase) the external to exFAT using disk utility then copy them back, you should be able to use them on both the PC and the mac. DON'T try to change the format before you have the data safely backed up.
  3. MaxMac29 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2012

    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately the size of all the files on the external harddrive is larger than that of my MacBook Air so I can't dump them on there. If I was to buy a PC/Windows formatted External HD, and plug that into the MacBook Air, I assume I can just copy and paste the files directly from the Mac-formatted external harddrive, through the MacBook air, and onto the new PC-formatted harddrive - is that right?

    Many thanks
  4. Bruno09 macrumors 68020

    Aug 24, 2013
    Far from here
    Yes you are right.

    You should format your new external to exFAT, so that you can use it both with Mac and Windows.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Windows PCs cannot read or write HFS+ formatted drives natively. Read the section on HFS+ format to learn how to read and write to those drives from your Windows PC. You can buy any drive that you choose, and format it yourself, using whichever format that meets your needs best.

    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.
  6. MaxMac29 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2012
    Hi all

    I just wanted to post a reply explaining what I did - thanks for all the advice you gave me; it really helped!

    I purchased an extra external HDD (as I needed another anyway!) and when it arrived I plugged it into my Win8 PC. All worked perfectly (read and write). I then plugged it into my iMac and I couldn't write to it!

    I took the external HDD and plugged it into the PC and formatted, following the instructions on this webpage ( and formatted it to the exFAT type as detailed by GGJStudios. This took about 1 minute to do!

    After this, all file transfers worked perfectly between the iMac and the win8 PC (read/write from both).

    Thanks very much MacRumours (specifically everyone who replied)!

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