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  1. #1


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    formatting an external hard drive both NTFS and FAT32?
    I'm thinking of partitioning my new hard drive so that it can work with Macs and PCs. I know it is possible, but I'm a little unclear on how to actually go about it. I plan to use the hard drive mostly with my computer running Windows XP, but I also have a Mac and a computer running Windows 7. Is this a bad idea for any reason? It seems like the best of both worlds, but I'm a little unsure.

  2. #2

    Slydude's Avatar
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    This should help Create an HFS+/NTFS/FAT32 external drive - Mac OS X Hints. I haven't tried this hint yet but the earlier hint referenced in that post worked for me when I tried it briefly. The only problem is I sometimes had to manually mount the Mac partition. I suggest reading the entire thread. I think there are some improvements to the process listed in the comments.
    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  3. #3


    Member Since
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    Thanks for the link. I read the whole thread but I have to say I'm more than a little confused by it. Also, I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but the drive came formatted FAT32.

  4. #4

    Slydude's Avatar
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    I have been thinking about writing up a summary of the directions for About This Particular Mac. Will probably do that next week over the Easter break. Would you mind if I sent you the directions to test?

    BTW as an alternative there is some software out there that lets OS X write to NTFS drives. Reading NTFS is already supported. I haven't used them yet so I can't be much help for one being better than another.
    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  5. #5

    Kash's Avatar
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    There are a couple of options available to you.

    1) FAT32. This is the easiest option since you can read and write to the drive from both Windows and Macs. Only problem is that you're limited to file sizes under 4GB, so if you plan on putting really big files on the external drive, this is not the option for you.

    2) NTFS. Another good option but with a limitation. Windows can read and write to it, Macs can only read from NTFS. Snow Leopard has included NTFS write support but it has to be enabled. Another option would be to install a program like MacFUSE to give your Mac NTFS writing ability. It's a free application and works pretty well, and since NTFS doesn't have that 4GB file limitation, it's a really good option, especially if you plan on attaching the external drive to various computers.

    3) Mac OS Extended (Journaled). This is the least desirable file system if you're sharing the drive between Mac and Windows. Windows can't even recognize Mac OS Extended drives, so you will need software like MacDrive to give Windows the ability to read and write to the drive. The only reason I see for using this option is if the external drive is going to be hooked up to the Mac 99% of the time and/or if you plan on using Time Machine as a backup method.

    June 2007
    July 2009

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