USB Stick Format Choice

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Alchemist, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. Alchemist macrumors regular


    Dec 22, 2004
    Hi all,

    I am a wedding photographer and have just moved to USB Sticks (instead of optical media) as my choice for delivering image files to my clients. I received my first batch of sticks this morning and am trying to figure out the most sensible choice for formatting them. Perhaps you can give me some insight. Here's what I am looking for:

    - Relatively universal readability
    - The ability to give the stick a name longer than just a few characters. I want to name the stick "Jack & Jill - 18.06.2013" or similar.

    I am thinking that a sensible choice that ticks both points may not be available? What is the current out-of-the box readability status of Mac OS Extended (HFS+) on recent Windows OS'?

    Thanks all!
  2. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    As long as your files are not more than 4 GB in size, use FAT32. This way you are guaranteed universal compatibility with computers going back to Windows 95.

    If you're including videos and files greater than 4 GB, use the exFAT file system. It's essentially a more modern version of FAT32 that can be read from and written to by Windows and OS X.
  3. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    For some reason when I format USB flash drives as exFAT on my Macs, Windows never recognizes them and tells me they need to be reformatted. FAT 32 always works but does have that 4GB file size limit.

    If OP has the same issue I have and regularly uses files larger than 4GB then I'd recommend buying Paragon's NTFS for Mac. It can format and read/write NTFS partitions.
  4. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    Try formatting an exFAT drive in Windows using a cluster size of 1024. That should get proper inter-operability.
  5. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    None. Even exFAT can be a problem, as Windows XP doesn't have built-in support and XP still has 39% market share, according to this article:

    Unless you're a videographer, I can't imagine you'd be using files close to 4 GB so FAT32 will be fine.

Share This Page