Re-formatting an external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Rad Raddon, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Rad Raddon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    #1
    Hello all. Please excuse my almost total lack of computing expertise or even using the correct words, but I could certainly use people's help here!

    The situation is that I have come to acquire a Macbook Air but the external hard drive I have been using up til now (a Samsung M3 Portable 2TB) seems not particularly compatible (I have since learned of different formats or file systems etc, the file system that my hard drive uses being NTFS, and this apparently not being compatible with Macs). I hear that HFS+ seems to be the file system of choice for Macs, and that re-formatting my hard drive to this system might be the way to go.

    My question is thus- if I transfer all my files off my external hard drive onto my old (barely functioning!) windows laptop and then re-format my external hard drive to HFS+ or whatever, will I even be able to transfer my files back onto the hard drive now it uses a different file system to the old laptop?

    I apologise for my lack of knowledge on all this but that is why I am here. Also, if this is something that is already talked about at length elsewhere, feel free to simply link me to it.

    Much thanks in advance.
     
  2. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    #2
    Assuming Macbook Air is working normally and external drive is NTFS it should be able to copy all your documents from the drive into Air. OS X reads NTFS so it should not be a problem.

    Once you have copied files into Air you might want to format the external drive into Mac Os extended, GUID in Disk Utility. Do not format the drive until you have copied the files to another drive! After format you can use it for backups. Or if you need to use it with Windows computers keep it in NTFS.
     
  3. lrmd98 macrumors member

    lrmd98

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Location:
    London
    #3
    Hi there, you could transfer your files to your Windows PC then format the External Hard drive to FAT32 format which is supported by both Windows and Mac and then just simply transfer your files back.
     
  4. Rad Raddon thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #4
    Thankyou ever so much, to both of you!

    The problem with the FAT32 format, from what I've been reading, is the small file size limitation. Otherwise, it would seem perfect as, as you say, it is supported by both windows and mac
     
  5. Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

    Erdbeertorte

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Location:
    Castle Grayskull, Eternia
    #5
    https://osxfuse.github.io

    Try this. It's not a real NTFS-Driver but is free and should be enough to copy things over.


    You could also install the Trial Version of Tuxera NTFS:

    http://www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-for-mac/

    Or Paragon:

    http://www.paragon-software.com/home/ntfs-mac/
     
  6. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #6
    Use ExFAT to overcome that limitation. It is read/write in Windows and OS X both.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.23.00 AM.png
     
  7. Erdbeertorte, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016

    Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

    Erdbeertorte

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Location:
    Castle Grayskull, Eternia
    #7
    @Rad Raddon

    With Tuxera or Paragon NTFS you get full support and you can even format drives in Disk Utility with it.

    I don't know how reliable they are because I have no NTFS drive.

    FAT is a very old and unreliable filesystem. Maybe @Weaselboy knows if a professional NTFS-Driver would be better and is worth to buy.


    Edit:

    It seems Paragon has it's own "Disk Utility". I just installed the Trial. As I tried Tuxera last week, I saw it in Disk Utility. In that list of Weaselboy's Screenshot.
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #8
    I agree NTFS with one of those paid OS X solutions would be more reliable. ExFAT like FAT32 is not a journaled file system, so more prone to data loss. That said, as long as you are careful to let ExFAT copies fully complete before yanking out the drive cable, I have not had any trouble with it.
     

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