Formatting a USB hard drive for both Mac and Windows?

Discussion in 'Memory and Storage' started by Dankk, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. Dankk

    Dankk Diamond Member

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    This might be a stupid question, and hopefully it's easy to answer.

    I have a little external-USB hard drive, Western Digital, 120GB. Really convenient, can plug it into any PC I want and it goes.

    I'm gonna wipe it off and reformat it so I can use it for school though, and at school, we actually use Macs. So my question is: Is there a way I can format it so it works perfectly on both Mac and Windows? Nothing special here, just transferring files. If I want to plug it into my Mac at school, put my work on it, take it home and continue working on Windows, is there anything special I need to do?

    I use HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool for most of my formatting needs, and it works great. Will just a simple NTFS format do? Or do I need to use a different filesystem or something?

    Thanks. I'm not a Mac guy.
     
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  3. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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    FAT32. Unfortunately you'll be limited to 4 GB files though.

    Macs cannot natively write NTFS.
     
  4. Rifter

    Rifter Diamond Member

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    +1, the only way to do it, just dont use it for large media files cause as mentioned 4GB is the file size limit.
     
  5. Dankk

    Dankk Diamond Member

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    Ok, thanks guys. I'll format it in FAT32 for now.
     
  6. ganachain

    ganachain Junior Member

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    Better idea...

    exFAT. Snow Leopard (10.6.6) and Lion both support it as well as Windows 7. And you can have exabyte size files. Ditch Fat32.
     
  7. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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    True. Note that exFAT is not supported in earlier versions of OS X. XP doesn't natively support it either but I'm told you can download a driver for it.
     
  8. Red Storm

    Red Storm Lifer

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    Never knew about exFAT, thanks!
     
  9. EarthwormJim

    EarthwormJim Diamond Member

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  10. Nothinman

    Nothinman Elite Member

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    If it's anything like the NTFS-3g support on Linux, the write speeds will be abysmal. I've tried creating backup images of laptops to a USB drive that's NTFS via dd_rescue on Linux and after reformatting the drive to ext3 or XFS the write speeds went up by 10x, easily. For just saving small documents that might not be a problem, but for anything larger than that it's going to be painful.
     
  11. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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  12. Nothinman

    Nothinman Elite Member

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    $50 for something that should just work anyway?
     
  13. EarthwormJim

    EarthwormJim Diamond Member

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    There's a native driver hack that operates at full speed.
     
  14. Nothinman

    Nothinman Elite Member

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    That sounds reliable...
     
  15. kowalabearhugs

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    Agreed. I love hacking things as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just need a bulletproof, professional system. I'd stick with exFAT.
     
  16. Nothinman

    Nothinman Elite Member

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    How is a terrible, ancient filesystem that's had larger files and filesystems duct taped on like exFAT considered "bulletproof" or "professional"?
     
  17. kowalabearhugs

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    So maybe that was an overstatement, but compared to implementing some legacy hack, I'll take my chances.