Setting up network USB drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jmjava, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. jmjava macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2011
    Could anyone tell me if I need to reformat a Western Digital 500GB USB 2.0 drive I have attached to my ASUS router. Format is whatever ships with because I have not changed it.

    I have 2 macs 1 pc that will be sharing data. What would be the best recommendation for the format so that I can do time machine backups and share music and movies?

  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Posted by GGJstudios all over this forum!

    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)
    Read/Write HFS+ from native Mac OS X
    Required for Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! backups of Mac OS X system files.
    To Read/Write HFS+ from Windows, Install MacDrive
    To Read HFS+ (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer
    Maximum file size: 8EiB
    Maximum volume size: 8EiB
    Mac OS X: Mac OS Extended format (HFS Plus) volume and file limits
    You can use this format if you only use the drive with Mac OS X, or use it for backups of your Mac OS X internal drive, or if you only share it with one Windows PC (with MacDrive installed on the PC)

    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.
  3. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
  4. jmjava thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2011
    Thanks for the very informative replies. Can you buy a USB HD already formatted for Mac or is it cheaper to just roll your own?
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Yes, you can buy drives preformatted for the Mac, but they usually cost more than the standard Windows formatted drives. For example, here is the standard drive for $74, then the exact same drive here in the Mac format for $81. Given the fact it takes about ten seconds to open Disk Utility and reformat the drive to Mac OS Extended, it is kind of a waste of money.

    Back to your original question, the drive format you use is determined by the requirements of the Asus router and not the OS of your computer. From looking at this Asus support document it appears you will need to format the drive to FAT32. Then the networking software in the router handles access to you Mac or Windows machines.

    To use this setup for w networked Time Machine backup requires support of Apple's AFP protocol. I don't know of any Asus router that supports this.

    There are work arounds using the SMB protocol like satcomer linked to, but they are not officially supported by Apple and you may have data corruption issues. I'm not sure I would trust my backup data to this setup.
  6. jmjava thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2011
    So are you saying that to have a reliable backup that I am sol with my current router even with a reformatted drive?
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Pretty much... yes. It really has nothing to do with the drive format and more to do with the router supporting AFP. For example, some of the Synology NAS devices and some routers do support AFP and they will work with Time Machine.

    I did see this hack where someone added AFP support to an Asus router. Don't know if you want to go hacking around in your router though.
  8. jmjava thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2011
    This is disappointing. So are there other devices that natively work with AFP? Other than the Synology and Time capsule devices?
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I know some of the Netgear routers do. Look at the lower left of this page and you can see a list.

    I have noticed in places like Amazon listings they often don't mentioned AFP support explicitly, but rather say something like "Time Machine Compatible".

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