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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Dec 30, 2008
    Posts
    1
    Confusion on External Hard Drives: from PC to Mac
    Hi Everyone!
    I am new to my Macbook. I just bought it two weeks ago and I have a few questions. I am honestly an inexperienced Mac user. By now, I've gotten used to the mousepad, finder and bittorrent...and that's about it. Oh and photobooth.

    I only have 120 GB of space on this mama and I bought an external hard drive so I can transfer/keep my files/music/movies/photos from my PC laptop (Asus).

    The external hard drive I bought is a Seagate portable 160 GB (Free Agent Go). I want to be able transfer all my documents (movies, music, photos, etc) to the hard drive, and then some of it into the new Macbook and then back up stuff from my Mac onto the hard drive. The problem is that I don't know how to do that and if someone can dumb stuff down for me about FAT32 and what that all means, that would be great!

    Also, I don't want to have to buy an internal hard drive. I'm still under Apple's one year warranty and I intend to use it up and then decide whether I want more coverage. If I change the hard drive, they won't cover it.

    And if you want, you can suggest an external hard drive to get that will work well between the two systems (PC v. Mac) because I'm waiting for an answer before I open the external hard drive packaging!


    PS: should I get more GB? Maybe a 250 GB? I want something that's cheap, but also works well. Thanks so much!!!

  2. #2

    dabears34's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jul 17, 2008
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    410
    Specs:
    Macbook 2.4 GHZ, 2G Ram, 160 GB HD| iPhone 4
    File Allocation Table - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I have a seagate drive and it works flawlessly, Idk how much space you need but if your run out of 280 GBs you can always buy another HD!

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Mar 10, 2008
    Posts
    6
    FAT32 (FAT = file allocation table) is a Windows file system, which was superseded by NTFS (Windows NT File System). FAT32 is obsolete for internal drives but is still commonly used for plugin devices, such as USB drives. As far as copying files is concerned, the important limitation is that a Windows FAT32 formatted drive cannot hold any file larger than 4GB, which can be a problem with video.

    Mac OS X can read/write FAT32 drives but has read-only access to NTFS drives. Windows cannot read any Mac formatted drives without a 3rd party application such as Mac Drive

    If you simply want to transfer the files once and not share the drive between the two computers then simply plug the external drive into your Windows PC, copy the files on it, unplug it, plug it into the Mac and copy them onto the Mac. When you plug it into the Mac it will appear in the left hand column of the Finder as a mounted volume. Remember to eject it in Finder before unplugging it. You may be used to just unplugging USB drives on Windows.

    As long as the 4GB limit is not a problem for you then FAT32 is your best bet for formatting to share the drive between the two.

  4. #4


    Member Since
    Oct 25, 2008
    Posts
    120
    Specs:
    2.4ghz MacBook Aluminum/ 16GB IPod Touch :D
    I bought a 500gb iomega external hard drive on sale for 89.00 dollars. I would suggest getting a bigger hard drive because they are so cheap and it would be better to have one hard drive than two small ones in my opinion.

  5. #5

    rogerinlondon's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 02, 2006
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    398
    Specs:
    iMac Retina 5K 4GHz i7 24GB RAM MacBook Air 11-inch 1.6GHz 4GB RAM
    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom99 View Post
    FAT32 (FAT = file allocation table) is a Windows file system, which was superseded by NTFS (Windows NT File System). FAT32 is obsolete for internal drives but is still commonly used for plugin devices, such as USB drives. As far as copying files is concerned, the important limitation is that a Windows FAT32 formatted drive cannot hold any file larger than 4GB, which can be a problem with video.

    Mac OS X can read/write FAT32 drives but has read-only access to NTFS drives. Windows cannot read any Mac formatted drives without a 3rd party application such as Mac Drive

    If you simply want to transfer the files once and not share the drive between the two computers then simply plug the external drive into your Windows PC, copy the files on it, unplug it, plug it into the Mac and copy them onto the Mac. When you plug it into the Mac it will appear in the left hand column of the Finder as a mounted volume. Remember to eject it in Finder before unplugging it. You may be used to just unplugging USB drives on Windows.

    As long as the 4GB limit is not a problem for you then FAT32 is your best bet for formatting to share the drive between the two.
    It is not quite correct that Windows can not read Mac formatted drives. I have a PC on the same network as my Mac Pro and it has not problems to read and copy files from the Mac at all.

  6. #6

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    48,264
    Specs:
    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Quote Originally Posted by rogerinlondon View Post
    It is not quite correct that Windows can not read Mac formatted drives. I have a PC on the same network as my Mac Pro and it has not problems to read and copy files from the Mac at all.
    File systems are transparent on a network. Dual booting is another matter and that's what he was referring to.

    Regards.

  7. #7

    Dysfunction's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 17, 2008
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    Tucson, AZ
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    6,866
    Specs:
    Way... way too many specs to list.
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    File systems are transparent on a network. Dual booting is another matter and that's what he was referring to.

    Regards.
    yes, this is because the networking protocol (probably SMB in this case) actually deals with the file transfer and the host itself does the read/write. Windows can of course read/write to ntfs and os x to hfs+
    mike
    This machine kills fascists
    Got # ? phear the command line!

  8. #8


    Member Since
    Sep 05, 2010
    Posts
    1
    opposition knottl
    Hi,

    I just joined because I had a specific question on this. I was trying to transfer some files from my NTFS formatted hard drive onto a Mac formatted hard drive. At this point, all the files on my Mac formatted hard drive are all read-only, I'm guessing because the hard drive the files were originally on was NTFS formatted. Is there any other way for me to transfer the files over without reformatting my original hard drive?

    Thanks!

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