WD External, which format will allow use in MAC & Windows?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by GadgetGeek407, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. GadgetGeek407 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 26, 2009
    I constantly save stuff from windows and Mac on my external and I saw online that MS DOS partition in Disk Utility works on both, which it does, but I am now trying to transfer 250gb and it says size to big for format type, what can I format under where it would work on both regardless of file transfer size?
  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 ($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. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    for both win and osx - exFAT is the way to go.
  4. RMo, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013

    RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    As others have almost mentioned, for easy read/write on both Windows and OS X, you'll want to go with something in the FAT family. For your drive, it looks like FAT32 will be fine as long as you don't have any files over 4 GB (maybe videos?). exFAT is fine as well, but it won't work with Windows XP* (or Leopard). I'd stick with FAT32 unless you are affected by any of its limitations, since it's very widely supported--and while you may not plan on needing it now, it would also work served on an AEBS and can be easily read by most Linux distros.

    NTFS is read-only on OS X (without third-party drivers) but works great on Windows, and HFS+ works great on OS X but has no support on Windows without third-party utilities, a free read-only utility or a pay-for read/write driver. So, while they're ultimately better file systems, I'd stay away from them for a shared drive unless sharing with another OS will truly be a rare occasion.

    Long story short: try FAT32, maybe exFAT if you need something it offers (e.g., larger file sizes) and don't mind its compatibility limitations.

    *EDIT: Thanks to costabunny below for pointing out that MS released an update (KB955704) to add exFAT support to XP. I think the patch for Leopard is called "Snow Leopard," however. :)
  5. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    Just a side note that xp can have exFAT support from microsoft. There is a exFAT update available in the microsoft downloads area.

    I know his only as I had to do it on my little brothers xp laptop as he wanted to backup to my external hard disk and had some work files bigger than 4Gb.

    Just for future reference of course :).

    (i don't know if there is a similar patch for Leopard)
  6. tiestomate macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2011
    Apologies for interfering to this discussion but my question is regarding WD.

    There might be the answer lying in the discussion above but I am not really fluent in all those formatting things. Can somebody clarify a couple of things for me please?

    I am going to use one of this eternal drives for backing up my Mac Book Pro and I want to use both the Time Machine and SuperDuper soft for this. I also want to keep all of my RAW photo files on the same drive and work on them using Lightroom on MBP. Do I need to create 2 partitions for this (one for backing up files and the other one for storing my photo files)? This my first question.

    The other question is if I create a partition on the drive for my photo files how can I get them on the external drive from my old windows laptop? I reckon that just drag and drop wont work?

    And my last question would be this – if I choose only half of the external drive for Mac partition can I use the other half of the drive for storing the rest of my windows files/documents/music? Or any suggestions on it. I am basically want to get rid from the windows machine eventually but there is 500GB of information. I just want to save on the drive just in case i will need it.

    Many thanks for any help in advance.

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