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  1. #1
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?

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    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    I just got a 500 GB Samsung spinpoint hard drive to use as an external storage devise. It seems the first thing I must do is format it. What is the best format to choose? Also, it seems it could be good if all computers can read the hard disk in case I need to share files. So is there a good format that Windows can also read? If I choose one that Windows machines can also read, is there any disadvantage to the format I would use for Mac only?
    Any other tips also welcome!
    Thank you very much.
    Justin
    Using brand new macbook

  2. #2
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?

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    The best one to go for is FAT 32. This way, all machines can read and write to it. The down side being file sizes are limited to 4 and a bit GB, so huge high def movies are out. Someone else may be better equipt to tell you, but I think Tiger can now read and write to NTFS drives, but don't take my word for that.

  3. #3
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    surfwax95's Avatar
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    No, Tiger can't write to NTFS. It can read from it, however.

    If you're using it for Mac only, do Mac OS Extended Journaled.
    I try to Command+Shift+/ when I can.
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  4. #4
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?

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    Tiger can read NTFS but it can't write to it. If you really need to regularly share your drive between a Mac and a PC than you only have two choices.

    1. Format the drive as FAT32 and live with the file size limit
    2. Format the drive as HFS+ and buy a program like MacOpener for your PC which then allows you to read and write to HFS formatted drives

  5. #5
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    Benjamindaines's Avatar
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    HFS+ is the best. If you are going to be using it with PCs get MacDrive.

  6. #6
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamindaines View Post
    HFS+ is the best. If you are going to be using it with PCs get MacDrive.
    What is the advantage of HFS+?
    And, wen I open the drive with disc utility, I do not see a "format" option, but do see an "erase" option. Under that it looks like I can choose a format ("volume format" dropdown menu) but they are all "Mac OS extended" etc, I cannot see FAT 32. So how do I format in FAT32 (or HFS+)?

    And for example if I wanted to use FAT32 and a little of it for HFS+, do i need to partition the drive now, or can I make it all FAT32, use it for a while, and while there is still a lot of space left, make a new partition?

    Thank very much!
    Justin
    Using brand new macbook

  7. #7
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    Stretch's Avatar
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    To format it, yes, you need to erase it first, and select your format there. Fat32 is listed as MS-DOS in the format list.

    You need to make all the partitions now, otherwise you will have to erase, and reformat it later, unless you buy one something like Partition Magic, I think it is.
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  8. #8
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    Benjamindaines's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin View Post
    What is the advantage of HFS+?
    And, wen I open the drive with disc utility, I do not see a "format" option, but do see an "erase" option. Under that it looks like I can choose a format ("volume format" dropdown menu) but they are all "Mac OS extended" etc, I cannot see FAT 32. So how do I format in FAT32 (or HFS+)?

    And for example if I wanted to use FAT32 and a little of it for HFS+, do i need to partition the drive now, or can I make it all FAT32, use it for a while, and while there is still a lot of space left, make a new partition?

    Thank very much!
    Justin
    The erase method you have found is the correct way. HFS+ is the Mac OS extended option (use journaled).

    To get he FAT-32 option you must select the drive (not the partition):


    Then it will show up from the pull down as MS-DOS:


    And yes you can have different filesystems on separate partitions.

  9. #9
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamindaines View Post
    The erase method you have found is the correct way. HFS+ is the Mac OS extended option (use journaled).

    To get he FAT-32 option you must select the drive (not the partition):


    Then it will show up from the pull down as MS-DOS:


    And yes you can have different filesystems on separate partitions.
    Thank you all! Working good now.
    Justin
    Using brand new macbook

  10. #10
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    mac57's Avatar
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    If you are planning to share an HFS+ volume with Windows, you will need a commercial package like MacDrive (http://www.mediafour.com/products/macdrive6/) to access it from Windows.

    As an alternate, you can format the drive using ext2, the workhorse Linux file format. It is supported by both Mac and Windows. The Mac support is at:

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsx

    The Windows support is available at:

    http://www.fs-driver.org/

    ext2 is a good idea for a Mac because it fully supports the concept of file ownership and permisssions just like HFS+. So this makes it superior to FAT32. ext2 also has the benefit of being open source freeware.
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  11. #11
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mac57 View Post
    ext2 is a good idea for a Mac because it fully supports the concept of file ownership and permisssions just like HFS+. So this makes it superior to FAT32. ext2 also has the benefit of being open source freeware.
    What advantage does HFS+ have? (I mean, why would I want to chose it, as it is less compatible. That is a minus. What is the plus?)
    Thanks
    Justin
    Using brand new macbook

  12. #12
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    wicker_man's Avatar
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    Personally I'd have a 32GB FAT32 partition for sharing with windows and have the rest as HFS+.

    That way, if anything needs to be accessed in windows, copy and paste to the FAT32 partition.
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  13. #13
    What format to give an external Hard Drive?
    mac57's Avatar
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    Justin, the BIG advantage of most of the *nix file systems (and that includes HFS+ and ext2) is that they support the idea of file ownership and access permissions. This is a really key part of keeping your Mac safe from trojans, virus' etc.

    In general, your account is only the owner of the files in your home directory. All the rest are owned by a special user called root. By and large, you have full read/write access to the files you own. In general you only have read access to the files owned by root.

    Now, lets say some horrible virus gets loose on your system because you mistakenly clicked a link or ran an executable or... whatever. When it tries to have its way with ANY of the Mac OS X system files, it will fail, because it is running under your userid and your userid does not have permission to write to files owned by root.

    While not perfect (really clever people can find ways around this) this provides a wonderful first level of protection for your Mac's system files from your everyday garden variety virus.

    SO, you *want* a file system that supports this idea. FAT32 does not, so if at all possible, don't use it. HFS+ and ext2 *do* support this idea, so if you can, use them.

    One last point. There are plenty of open source software products, like Thunderbird for example, which extensively leverage file ownership permissions to keep everything running smoothly. Change the permissions, or get them lost by transferring key files through a FAT32 partition, and suddenly things start to misbehave. Again, a file system that supports file ownership and permissions eliminates this as an issue.

    Hope this helps!
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  14. #14
    MacHeadCase
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    Excellent point, dude!

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