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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

external hard drive

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Member Since: Jun 16, 2009
Posts: 22
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I recently bought a Mac (through the online store, I won't receive it for a few more days). In preparation, I got an external hard drive to transfer everything I need. It's a WD Elements portable drive (500 GB). Will I have any issues transferring? I've heard something about having to reformat it, but will that erase my information on it? Do I have to reformat it after I back up my information from my old laptop, but before I plug it into the Mac?

Basically, I want to know if I messed up or not in buying this hard drive. I suppose I should have researched this more, but time was a factor with my Mac already on its way, my Dell about to die on me, and it being midterms time for my classes. Any info is appreciated.
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Member Since: Dec 19, 2009
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I'm pretty sure you are OK. I have a WD portable hdd that I had been using with my HP before getting the MBP. I plugged it into the MBP and it recognized and was able to access all files.
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Member Since: Feb 19, 2010
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Hi i had same issues when transferring from my PC to a mac i copied all files i wanted to keep to external HDD and when i plugged it into my imac i could see all my files and use them fine, but i could not copy anything back to the external HDD as it was already formatted in NTFS. not a problem really as all i did was copy everything off external HDD to imac , formatted external HDD in fat32 then copied everything back to external HDD.
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Member Since: Dec 11, 2009
Location: Arizona
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Mac Specs: 2.4Ghz, 2Gb, 160HDD & 10.6.2 / Aluminum Keybaord & Mighty Mouse / WD MyBook 1TB

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My room mate has that same hard drive. I went into his room when he bought it to show him how to format it and it was never needed and his macbook instantly recognized it. I doubt you will have issues with it but if so just youtube "formatting external hard drive to mac" and you will have your pick of videos to answer the same question. Now take good care of that hard drive. He didn't and now it will randomly disconnect even in mid transfer so baby it hahah. Good luck and enjoy your new Mac!!!!
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Member Since: Dec 20, 2009
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It really depends on how you plan on using your external drive. In my case I have a 1 TB Western Digital My Book. I partitioned it into two volumes, 500GB for my Mac & the other 500 for my PC. Then I formatted the PC side in NTFS (I don't plan to share files) and the Mac side extended FHS+. Now I have one drive to serve as my backup for two computers. Its a good solution.
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As was pointed out, if the drive is formatted to FAT-32 you can use it both for Mac work and PC work. And even if it should be formatted to NTFS, your new Mac with Snow Leopard will be able to read and write to it although that feature is not turned on by default. If that's the case, post back and we'll show you how to turn read\write support for NTFS on.

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Member Since: Feb 15, 2010
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OK just to get a few things clear here, Macs will read NTFS drives, so by all means copy your files onto your external hard drive, once you get your mac, copy the files off the external drive onto your mac, and then reformat it. Since you can only read NTFS you wont be able to add extra files back to your external hard drive without formatting it.

FAT32 is read/writable on both Macs and PC's (Eurika !, right ?) well not quite, though it'll work on either system and you'll be able to access and add/amend your files, its generally believed that FAT32 isn't exactly the most stable format, I've heard of people getting large files corrupted on FAt32 drives, do a little googleing on FAT32 and most articles seem to hint at that thought FAT32 is alright for pen drives etc any external HDD should be formatted as something else.

Once you've got your mac and your files copied onto your mac from your external hard drive I'd say your best bet would be to format your drive using 'Disk Utility' on your Mac as Mac OSX journalised, that way any files you add to your drive will be indexed and available for speedy searching under spot light etc. That is assuming ofcourse you dont want to use your drive back on the PC ???, if you do want to try transferring files between mac and PC then a network (LAN) maybe the better way to go.

Hope that helps. Enjoy !
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Member Since: Feb 17, 2010
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It should be okay to transfer everything to the external in this case
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