Question about trasnfering files between Mac and PC/ external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Jwolffy25, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. Jwolffy25 macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    Hi... I recently posted about how a friend of mine spilled water on my Macbook (black, core duo, circa July 2006).

    I waited a few days, and turned the bad boy on. My biggest concern was backing up my files, which I hadn't done for a few months.

    The keyboard is shot, and I dont think the computer is going to last long without a cleaning (ie could fail at any time).

    I quickly copied my files over to a My Book 250 gig gig external, and another one of those little pocket sized Western Digital bad boys (160 gig). I also just realized I shoulda hedged my bets and bought a different brand, but oh well.

    Here are my questions. Can someone give me some general rules about formatting? I literally just plugged in the externals and copied them over. Did nothing else. But I want to make sure Ill be able to copy/ access the files, preferably on both a mac system AND a PC system (if my macbook dies, I don't have the money for a new Mac).

    I assume that plugging it in formatted it to Mac, and I am correct to say I can now go back and forth between most any Mac system? But now what would happen if I tried to access/ copy them to a PC? Could I? Will it format it PC? Will I lose the files? My guess I could access them from the PC, but not write to the external?

    Just some general help would be great... ive had trouble with compatibility/ formatting of externals in the past, and I CANNOT lose these files.

    Thanks much
  2. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    If the MyBook was USB, it's most likely formatted to FAT32, not Mac. You can check by doing 'get info' on the volume -it will tell you if it's OSx or FAT32.
    Simply copying will not format it for Mac - you have to go to disk utility. FAT32 can be read by most any computer, win or Mac. Only if you go back and format it for OSx would you have an issue accessing from PC, but there are addons that will allow a PC to access OSx.

    Formatting is a separate step and wipes out all files on the target disk. You format it first from DiskUtility. Usually usb disks come formatted for windows/mac, while Firewire disks often come formatted for OSx.
  3. Jwolffy25 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    Thanks Old Wiz-

    It is in fact formatting to FAT32.

    Would you recommend I keep it this way?

    So with FAT32, I should be able to both access files/ write to the hard drive from both a mac and PC? This is going to sound silly, but these files are important to me, so I'm anal: I can obviously then access files I copied off a mac from a PC?

    Curious then? Why would someone want to format to OSx if FAT32 works for both? Can you not use FAT32 for firewire transfers maybe?

Share This Page