Use external HDD for Time Machine + NTFS format

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by nicklasmp, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. nicklasmp macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012

    I just recieved my very first Mac a few days ago - so i'm a rather new to the whole OS X system. Now i have a seagate external HDD (2TB) that i want to use as backup for my rMBP, but at the same time i still want it to be readable on my PC.

    Is it possible to make a partition for timemachine (i believe the best format for that is Mac OS Extended Journaled), on let's say 250 gigs as the hd on my mac is 256 gb - and the rest of the external hdd in the NTFS format?

    Can anyone explain how to do this, i've tried to format via the disk utility, but that makes both partitions the same format, but i might be missing a setting somewhere.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008

    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)
      • 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.
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    You could, but it's not best practice to have your TM backups on a partitioned drive with other data. If you do want to go down that road regardless there is nothing to stop you from creating an NTFS partition on the Seagte in addition to your TM partition...But as I said, it's not really considered best practice...Maybe buy another external?


    Cross posted (Again...)..:D
  4. nicklasmp thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    what exactly would be the downside to it? since my rMBP is only 256 big it would be a huge waste to let the rest of the 1750~ gb go to waste, that's the way i see it
  5. Moriarty, Jul 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012

    Moriarty macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    No downside really, though obviously it's not going to be backed up. I suppose there's a minuscule chance the whole thing could get corrupted... but really it shouldn't be much of an issue as that could happen with any drive. You'd just lose your TM backup as well (you can back up again easily enough, you'd just lose your history). And without third-party drivers (a SLOW version can be had for free or faster versions will cost you) you cannot write to NTFS from Mac OS X. Similar story with Windows and HFS+.

    If you want cross-platform compatibility and only want to use it for media storage, exFAT would be better if you don't want to fiddle with driver support.

    Lastly, if you're going to come close to filling that SSD I'd recommend a 500GB or so Time Machine partition. That way you'll get a reasonable backup history in case you delete something and want to retrieve it later.
  6. nicklasmp thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks for your reply - the plan was to use the for it for media storage, so with exFAT i will be able to read and write in both systems correct? however i'm curently running with Paragon NTFS so i'm able to read and write in OS X, but suppose it will be a better solution on the long run to format it to exFAT instead of having to be dependent on third-party software?
  7. Morien macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2010
    On that note, is there any (noticeable) performance loss with using Paragon over formatting as exFat?
  8. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    Moriarty mentioned it, but in your replies, it wasn't clear whether you noted his suggestion.

    The TM works is that it saves all of your data, plus all of the changes that happened to your data over time. So you'll have multiple versions of the same file ... each version potentially having updated or different information.

    This method allows you to go back to a certain day to retrieve a back-up. It can come in handy in many situations.

    Now with that said, you typically want to have 2x (or more) of TM-drive space than the drive that you're backing up. So if your MBP has a 256GB SSD, then you'd want to make your TM partition 500GB or larger.

  9. Moriarty macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    Yes I think eFAT is a better solution for storage of photos/video. It's not the most efficient file system at handling tons of small files though, that's why it's not ever recommended to install an OS on an exFAT partition.

    exFAT will likely have better I/O performance than using third-party drivers, however if you have a USB 2.0 drive, the USB 2.0 speed is going to be your bottleneck so there would be no noticeable difference in that case.

    And exFAT is free. Only disadvantage is limited support outside of Windows 7 and OS X, i.e. media players for your TV etc usually don't support it.

    Unfortunately, there is no single file system that works well with everything, ergo there is no perfect answer to your problems... you just have to decide which solution is going to give you the fewest issues.
  10. shervinvan macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2012
    Vancouver, Canada

    Great, i was wondering about the exact same thing as the original poster :) thanks for the info everyone
  11. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    Nothing wrong with it, as long as the rest of the data is backed up elsewhere (or isn't important). What wouldn't be best practice is backing up to a partition on the same drive as what you're backing up, but that's not what's being discussed.

  12. macimby macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Clonezilla might be another option . . . for tech-savvy folks

    Is there really no way around that? No good image backup software that can backup up a MBP's HFS+ onto a NTFS backup drive?

    I heard Clonezilla is supposed to be able to do that. I wasn't successful at getting the bootable CD (or bootable USB flash drive stick) to boot up all the way into the Clonezilla application on my new MBP15R w/ USB blu-ray-ready drive. If I could've gotten past that it might have worked. <sigh>
  13. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    No, you can't create a bootable clone of an HFS+ drive on a drive with a different format.
  14. macimby macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Thank you, GGJ, but I think the question is different than what you're answering.

    I'm asking about backing up an HFS+ drive and restoring as an equivalent HFS+ drive, but with the compressed backup image being stored on an NTFS drive until needed. If your answer applied to that scenario it would seem to contradict what's said about Clonezilla. (I just haven't been able to boot Clonezilla on my MBP15R hardware yet to test it.)

    Does that change how you'd answer my qn?
  15. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    No, the backup must always be on an HFS+ drive.
  16. macimby macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Are you saying Clonezilla can't manage it either (despite how it seems) or are you only referring to the ones you named in your long description?
  17. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I'm not familiar with Clonezilla, as it's certainly not as well-known or as highly recommended as much as Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper!, all 3 of which require HFS+ format for a clone to be bootable. Since you can't boot Mac OS X from a drive in a format other than HFS+, if you backup the drive to a non-HFS+ drive, it won't be a bootable clone. I personally wouldn't trust my backups to any app that isn't as well known, but that's your call.
  18. macimby macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Thanks. I think I understand you now.

    FYI, only the original source disk and the restored disk would need to have a bootable partion formatted as HFS+. The intermediate backup copies would only need to retain the compressed data from the disk (not bootable in compressed form), so I don't know of any theoretical reason that couldn't be using 1960's punchcards if they wanted let alone NTFS. That piece is probably just a matter of whatever they chose to implement.

    FWIW, Clonezilla doesn't have any other features like being able to explore contents of copies and I don't imagine it would be particularly fast either. It appears to be just compressed backup image storage & restore that supports a lot of disk formats, per their open-source project site (

    "(1) ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs, btrfs of GNU/Linux,
    (2) FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS of MS Windows,
    (3) HFS+ of Mac OS,
    (4) UFS of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, and
    (5) VMFS3 and VMFS5 of VMWare ESX.
    Therefore you can clone GNU/Linux, MS windows, Intel-based Mac OS, and FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. ..."
  19. GGJstudios, Sep 20, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Don't remind me! I don't miss those! Besides, it would take about 6.9 billion of them to back up the MBPr storage, not to mention the fact it wouldn't be bootable!

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