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  1. #1


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    Question Newbie ?: Do I reformat my FAT32 External HD to Mac OS Extended (Journalized)
    Hi All! A few days ago, I decided to take the plunge into the Mac world and ditched my dying PC for my very first Mac!!! Weeeeeee! So now for my question:

    I have a WD external HD that was formatted for my PC in FAT32. I did a a good bit of reading before I got my iMac and I know that a lot of places suggested that I copy ALL of the info from my external HD to my iMac, reformat the external HD to max os extended and then copy all of my info back onto my newly formatted HD. In your opinions, is this a good move OR do I just keep my WD external HD in the FAT32 format? My exernal HD consists of pictures, music, my entire iTunes library and documents/spreadsheets. I did get Office for Mac so I can still use all of my docs from my PC. Any help or advice would be great.

    Thank Q in advance!!!
    LIL Bonsaii

  2. #2


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    I think you pretty much just laid it all out for yourself. Move the files to the mac, reformat the drive to Extended and then move all of the files back.


    How big is the hard drive? Depending on the sizes, I might suggest using the external hard drive as a Time Machine for your Mac.
    Don't forget the +reputation button on the left!

  3. #3


    Member Since
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    ThePope,

    I know how to do it, but I just wanted to make sure this is the best thing to do. My external HD is 1TB, but only has a LIL under 400GB on it. I also have another WD external that is 320GB, but that sucker is full.

    I saw the time machine thing that keeps popping up, but wasn't sure if it is something I need to do. I guess if I don't use time machine, I'm playing with fire.
    LIL Bonsaii

  4. #4

    harryb2448's Avatar
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    Either Time Machine or cloning with SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner for sure. Just do a Google for them and how they backup on a weekly basis or whatever you determine.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  5. #5


    Member Since
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    "Best" is a subjective term, but if you're going to use that drive with a Mac, it just makes sense to format it for the Mac. Also, FAT32 was a perfectly good filesystem back in the day, but it's run into modern progress and can't handle files larger than 4GB, which as anyone with a video camera will tell you is pretty easy to create these days.

    So yes, I'd recommend you format the drive for Mac. The journaling bit is optional; it's more useful on boot drives than storage drives, but I don't think it makes enough of a difference to actually care about.

  6. #6


    Member Since
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    ressisp karl
    Thanks all!
    LIL Bonsaii

  7. #7

    RavingMac's Avatar
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    FWIW
    I have a WD 250GB External HD that I bought when I made the switch, formatted to FAT32 and I never bothered to reformat it. It still works fine with no issues. but that maybe because of my usage.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  8. #8

    chscag's Avatar
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    Formatting it is optional. It depends on whether you intend to use it to store very large files as FAT-32 will not support a file size over 4 GB. If you never intend to use it that way, leave it alone. Copying files to your new Mac's internal drive and then back again might be OK if you don't have much to copy. The more you have to copy back and forth the more you open yourself to file corruption and errors.

    Your Mac will read and write to FAT-32 just fine. And, you can still use it with your PC.

  9. #9


    Member Since
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    i would suggest u keep it it FAT32 if you don't have files over 4GB
    or maybe use ex-fat, more compatibility with windows

  10. #10

    TattooedMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxxsur View Post
    or maybe use ex-fat, more compatibility with windows
    Not sure the OP was looking for more compatibility with windows though . . .. .
    Dont forget to use the Reputation System if someone has helped you out !!!
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  11. #11


    Member Since
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    As far as I remember you can't use the FAT format to store video files used for iMovie. Although I may be remembering incorrectly.

    I seem to remember when I copied all my footage from my internal HDD I had to reformat my external from FAT.

    Sucks to find out later that you need to change from FAT when you don't have enough room to move the files over to another drive while reformatting.

    EDIT: I also just read this about Time Machine
    "Time Machine can’t back up to an external disk that's connected to an AirPort Extreme, or to an iPod, iDisk, or a disk formatted for Microsoft Windows (NTFS or FAT format)."
    So, if you want to use Time Machine format it.

  12. #12

    chscag's Avatar
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    As far as I remember you can't use the FAT format to store video files used for iMovie. Although I may be remembering incorrectly.
    As long as the video files do not exceed 4 GB, they'll store just fine on a FAT-32 drive.

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