Using an external hard drive formatted on with Windows

-Faust-

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2014
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Hi everyone. I have a 3TB WD external hard drive. I've formatted this with disk utility and separated it into 2 partitions: one is for time machine backups, the other is for long term storage (basically an archive for my old projects and things of that nature). My question is: will the archive mount and operate properly on a windows computer? In other words, will I be able to plug the drive into both my iMac and my Windows PC to be able to archive projects from both?
Thanks for your time, and pardon my ignorance on this topic. :D
 

brand

macrumors 601
Oct 3, 2006
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127.0.0.1
It depends on what file system you used when you formatted the partition you intend to use for data storage.
 

-Faust-

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2014
11
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Well, in disk utility in the info about the partition, it says the format is "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". It seems there are four options for format in the "Erase" tab. Do you happen to know which one will work for my purposes? And is it possible to reformat the partition without needing to format the entire disk and doing it all over again?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,392
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My advice (my opinion only, others' will be different):

If you value those projects you're storing on the external drive, DO NOT use any other formatting scheme than HFS+, GUID partition format.

If you want to access those files on the PC side, there are solutions available that will let you mount a Mac-formatted drive in Windows. I've never had need to do that, but I believe one of them is called "Mac Drive".

I have too often seen postings here from users who had data stored on a drive that was "cross-formatted" (for both Mac and PC), and after connecting it to the PC, at some point the data just went.... POOF! As in..... gone (at least on the Mac side).

So....
Keep important Mac stuff on a Mac formatted drive.
If you need a "cross-platform" drive, use a THIRD, cross-formatted drive to "carry between" the two computers.
A high-capacity USB flashdrive can serve this purpose well.

Again, my opinion only.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
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California
Well, in disk utility in the info about the partition, it says the format is "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". It seems there are four options for format in the "Erase" tab. Do you happen to know which one will work for my purposes? And is it possible to reformat the partition without needing to format the entire disk and doing it all over again?
You want to leave the Time Machine partition in Mac OS Extedned, then change the second one to ExFAT. ExFAT is read/writeable in both Windows and OS X and will do exactly what you want. You can just erase the second partition to ExFAT without touching the first partition. You will see the ExFAT option in the drop down there in Disk Utility.
 

-Faust-

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2014
11
0
Thanks for the replies!

@Weaselboy That sounds good, but what about what Fishrrman said? Would it be better to use software to mount the drive or is perfectly fine to format using ExFAT?
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,297
8,947
California
Thanks for the replies!

@Weaselboy That sounds good, but what about what Fishrrman said? Would it be better to use software to mount the drive or is perfectly fine to format using ExFAT?
The only real downside to ExFAT is it is not a journaled file system, so if there is a power outage for example mid file copy you are more likely to have disk errors with ExFAT than with something like the Mac native HFS+ file system. If this is just used to share files back and forth between computers, it is really not an issue.

Is there a file size limit for ExFAT? Sometimes I stored full Blu-Rip which is about 40 GB.
Not an issue. You are probably thinking of the FAT32 4GB file size limitation. This does not apply to ExFAT.
 

-Faust-

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2014
11
0
The only real downside to ExFAT is it is not a journaled file system, so if there is a power outage for example mid file copy you are more likely to have disk errors with ExFAT than with something like the Mac native HFS+ file system. If this is just used to share files back and forth between computers, it is really not an issue.
Alright, thanks for the info. This is actually a large drive to archive my video projects (the actual files going on it are essentially the same. After Effects projects, Photoshop projects, images, videos, sounds, etc.) from both computers, so maybe it's best to use some software on the Windows computer to read/write to the drive...
 
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