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Running Windows (or anything else) on your Mac Discussion of Classic or running Windows, Linux and other OSes on the Mac.

Cross-Platform Vista/OS X file system?


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JonnyFunFun

 
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Okay, so here's the deal - I got a 750gb hard drive inside my iMac with OS X and Vista Ultimate. Along with that I've got a 1tb LaCie Big Disk over 1394 with a ton, and I mean like 98% full ton, of downloaded crap. Problem is, the only filesystem I know that both OS X and Windows can read and write to is FAT32 and the 4gb maximum file size restriction on FAT32 is annoying. So is there any solution you guys know of where I can convert this drive to something better and still allowing both operating systems to write to it?
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If you don't want to use FAT32, then you're going to have to get third-party software for either your Mac or Windows that will allow you to read/write to either NTFS or HFS+, respectively.

I know for Windows the software is called MacDrive. Not sure what you need for OS X. Though I'm sure somebody else will fill in that bit of information.


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There are a variety of options that will let you share the same drive between both your PC and your Mac without needing separate partitions. Happily, both machines now support four common file systems:

1/ FAT32 - The older, lesser Windows standard file system

2/ NTFS - Win NT, 2000, XP and Vista all default to this

3/ ext2/3 - Mac, Win and Linux all share this format

4/ HFS+ - this is the native Mac OS X format.

Here is how to do each one:

1/ FAT32 - this is supported natively by both Windows and Mac. Just format your drive for it and both Win and Mac can read and write. Drawbacks? It has no file permission model, making it somewhat insecure, plus causing the loss of Mac OS X's carefully crafted per file permissions as you transfer things back and forth. FAT32 is "cheap and cheerful", but not recommended.

2/ NTFS - This has been supported by Windows for a long time, and has just very, very recently become available in full read/write mode for Macs. See the following thread, by Paragon Software, advertising beta availability of their NTFS for Mac:

Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X Public Beta Testing

This *is* beta, and it will be shareware, but first reports are that it works very well. Previous file system offerings from Paragon seem very well regarded. They have been in the file system driver business for a lot of years.

NTFS does have a more mature permissions model than FAT32 and is generally more secure. This option is better than the first one.

3/ ext2/3 - this is the standard Linux file system. Both Windows and Mac have installable file system drivers for it. For the Mac, see this:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsx

and for the PC, see this:

http://www.fs-driver.org

ext2/3 is an extremely mature, fast and very well regarded file system. It supports pretty much the same full file permissions model that HFS+ does (both, after all, are *nix based file systems), making it a recommended solution. Both the Mac and PC drivers are free, so that is attractive too.

4/ HFS+. This is the Mac standard system. To enable this for the PC, you need to get MacDrive. This mature and well regarded piece of software adds seamless support for HFS+ to your PC. If you are willing to spend the money, it may be the best solution of all.

So, there you have it. LOTS of ways to share your hard drive between your PC and your Mac.

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