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Thread: NTFS vs. FAT32

  1. #1

    Jaygray's Avatar
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    NTFS vs. FAT32
    Can someone clarify the NTFS vs. FAT32 deal?

    Best I can figure, based on my Google searches, Windows prefers NTFS. It allows more control over who can access the file. NTFS stored files are less prone to corruption.

    My Mac prefers FAT32. Why?

    Also, does FAT32 have trouble with extremely large file sizes? Photo libraries, Entourage Identities, etc can get very large.

  2. #2

    Zoolook's Avatar
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    FAT32 is basically the old Windows 9x format, whereas as NTFS is the Windows NT file format.

    NTFS is far more secure, as it was the old corporate standard. Before WinXP, home users had to make do with FAT32 or FAT16. FAT32 is more or less considered an 'open' format, in so far as more or less any OS can read the data.

    Mac OS X can read NTFS quite easily, so can Linux, however writing to it is a slightly different matter and a bit hit an miss.

    So here's the rule. If you want to share data between Windows, OS X and/or Linux, use FAT32... if you're exclusively on Windows, and only want to access the data yourself, use NTFS.
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
    - Joan D. Vinge


  3. #3


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    as a new user i need a bit of help on backup. ive got a wd passport external 320gig drive and its in fat 32.

    windows and mac recognize it except time machine wants to format it. Will this mean i cant use it in windows ???? so can someone shed some light on this please before i format the drive. Thanks

  4. #4

    baggss's Avatar
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    Time machine will not backup to a FAT-32 formated drive, it must be in a Mac Format (HFS+ Journaled)


  5. #5

    Zoolook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baggss View Post
    Time machine will not backup to a FAT-32 formated drive, it must be in a Mac Format (HFS+ Journaled)
    Exactly - Time Machine is not for sharing data, it is only for backing up OS X Leopard. If you're interested in sharing files with other Operating Systems, use an External Drive or Server, formatted in FAT32 or partitioned with various formats.
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
    - Joan D. Vinge


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