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  1. #1
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    Hi. I had formatted my 3tb external drive in MS-Dos(FAT) so it could be read on a PC, but for some reason, after quick formatting, it only gave me about 800gb. So I thought perhaps I should do a better format. I started it yesterday afternoon. 21 hours later and it is still going with the progress bar hardly showing anything at all!

    So, how can I stop it? Is it ok to just pull the plug on the drive, or would that damage it?

  2. #2
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    IWT's Avatar
    Member Since
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    Your Mac's Specs
    Late 2015 5K 27-inch Retina iMac, 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Flash Drive, macOS High Sierra 10.13.6
    When you first formatted the 3TB Drive - MS-DOS (Fat) - was there anything on your Drive?

    Secondly, was your Drive partitioned? If so, did you format all partitions?

    And when you re-formatted, which format did you choose, and again, all partitions?

    Did you use GUID?

    From these answers, we can help. 21 hours is wrong, so something needs sorting.

    Ian
    Ian

  3. #3
    1) Yes, there were files on the drive
    2) No, not partitioned
    3) MS-DOS(FAT)
    4) hmm, don't know what that is so I suppose not!!

  4. #4
    Thanks Ian. Well, I went ahead and pulled the plug! Had to format drive on a PC, and all seems well. I now have to reformat on my iMac as I am trying to copy my files on to it, and the iMac won't write to it if formatted by PC!!

  5. #5
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    MacInWin's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 01, 2009
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    Winchester, VA
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    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP 15" Mid 2015, iPhone XS, an iMac, plus ATVs, AWatch, MacMini
    Actually, the Mac can write to a FAT formatted drive, but I suspect that the PC formatted it to NTFS, which the Mac doesn't write to natively. You might at ParagonNTFS to enable NTFS writes on the Mac, if you are going to be doing this kind of thing frequently.
    Jake

  6. #6
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    IWT's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2009
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    Born in Scotland, Worked in Scotland then England, Now live in Wales
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    Your Mac's Specs
    Late 2015 5K 27-inch Retina iMac, 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Flash Drive, macOS High Sierra 10.13.6
    Thanks for quick reply.

    Firstly, and without offence, I'm going to list the available Formats for an External Hard Drive (EHD) and when you might use them. I accept that all this may be known to you. Apologies, but it might help someone in the future.

    Hard Drive File Systems

    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System), a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    File system used by Mac OS and needed for Time Machine.
    Windows requires additional software to use the Mac OS.

    From macOS High Sierra, Solid State Drives in a Mac were changed to Apple File System (APFS) and with macOS Mojave, spiining platter and Fusion Drives were also changed to APFS.

    Even when the Mac’s File System is APFS, Time Machine can only use HFS+ format for backing up; but bootable cloned backups are better copied on to an APFS formatted Drive.

    NTFS (Windows NT File System)
    Read/Write NTFS from native Windows
    Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
    OS X needs additional software for interaction

    FAT32 (File Allocation Table) aka MS-DOS
    Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS
    Maximum file size: 4GB
    You can use this format if you share the drive between Mac OS X and Windows computers and have no files larger than 4GB

    If you need to transfer files larger than 4 GB between Macs and PCs: Use exFAT.

    My suggestion is that you consider exFAT over FAT 32 (aka MS-DOS) unless you definitely know that you will never want to transfer a file > 4GB. Also, I've found exFAT to be faster.

    I'd be tempted to unmount the offending EHD. It will give you a message that you have been naughty and data may be lost; but as you were erasing the EHD and its data, that doesn't matter. Or it may be that the EHD is failing anyway and is therefore of no use to you.

    Then I'd remount the EHD. Then open Disk Utility (DU). If the EHD is not shown, it has probably failed. Best to know now!

    If it is shown, then follow the screenshots below. For this experiment, I want to Format the Hitachi EHD which is highlighted in the first screenshot. NB I have highlighted the entire volume and not the indented partition.

    S1.png

    With that highlighted, click on Erase.

    Now choose the settings as shown in the next screenshot (you can change exFAT to FAT32 if you want). NB The GUID Partition Map I spoke of:

    S2.png

    Click on Erase.

    Then please post back.

    Ian
    Ian

  7. #7
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    IWT's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2009
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    Born in Scotland, Worked in Scotland then England, Now live in Wales
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    Your Mac's Specs
    Late 2015 5K 27-inch Retina iMac, 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Flash Drive, macOS High Sierra 10.13.6
    I see you and Jake have beaten me to it, but then I did have a lot more to type and had to create screenshots:

    Ian
    Ian

  8. #8
    Thanks to you both, and for your very detailed reply!!! I have now formatted using exFAT and it is working just fine!!! This is a 'one-off' for transferring all my files on to a PC. Sadly, as much as I love my iMac, I am having to return to using a PC Hence moving all my files

  9. #9
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    Nighthawk4's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jul 14, 2008
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    UK
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    Your Mac's Specs
    iMac 2.66 GHz 20", iPad Mini2 32GB, iPhone6 64GB, Watch Sport 42mm Black, iPad Air 2 128GB
    Pretty sure FAT does not extend to 3TB

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Nighthawk4 View Post
    Pretty sure FAT does not extend to 3TB
    Ding, ding, ding. FAT32 (the variant that is now just called FAT) can only handle 2TB and a single file no larger than 4GB. Either way, as recommended and done, exFAT is the format that should be used for all external devices that will be shared amongst different devices.
    --
    Regards
    ...Ashwin


  11. #11
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    ferrarr's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 21, 2012
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    Pawtucket, RI, US
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    L2014 Mac mini macOS Mojave, iPhone 8+ iOS 12, 12.9" iPad Pro 1 iOS 12, Pencil 1
    Quote Originally Posted by Nighthawk4 View Post
    Pretty sure FAT does not extend to 3TB
    I don't have a drive that large, but I've never encountered an issue using a Mac to format any size drive, but have had issues, using Windows to format larger sized drives.
    -- Bob --
    Please backup. Everything has a life cycle, unexpected and warning free. Nothing will last as long as you want it to.

  12. #12
    Pull the plug on external drive formatting
    IWT's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2009
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    Born in Scotland, Worked in Scotland then England, Now live in Wales
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    Your Mac's Specs
    Late 2015 5K 27-inch Retina iMac, 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Flash Drive, macOS High Sierra 10.13.6
    Quote Originally Posted by Nighthawk4 View Post
    Pretty sure FAT does not extend to 3TB
    I've searched high and low, but cannot find any EHD storage limit for exFAT. Did you find a source for your concern, Nighthawk4?

    (FAT32, as explained above has a transfer limit of 4GB for an individual file, whilst exFAT has no limit.)

    Ian
    Ian

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