Basic file use questions

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Hello,

New imac with snow leopard user here. I want to get a basic understanding of how the machine works. Thanks in advance for any answers and advice, and I apologize if this is too basic, but I really don't know much about this yet.

Starting with a couple basic questions:

If I work with files off of a hard drive connected via USB, opened with applications on the mac, does the file remain on the external drive, or is it copied or saved on either the internal mac HD or RAM during use?

Similar question: If I transfer documents from a USB flash drive to a USB hard drive on another port, do the documents ever reside on the internal HD or RAM during the process or does it completely take place on the two external drives?

Thanks - This is an impressive machine, from my experience so far!
 
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all files that are being used are stored primarily in RAM whenever possible, but when you actually save the file it is saved to it's original location, not some made up default .. so if you open a file that you have on your external, modify it and then save it, the original will be modified

I'm not sure if entire files are transferred usb-ram-usb, but I wouldn't be surprised since processor instructions are stored and carried out from RAM (even when remapped to virtual memory on the hdd it is still accessed through a remap table stored in RAM)... they won't be written directly to the drive if your RAM is free... these are hardware issues, why would you need to know this exactly?
 
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With OS X if there are 2 windows open from same storage device and a file is dragged from one to the other the file is Moved - if the windows represent 2 different storage devices then the file is copied unless you hold Option key to modify that change. If u need to keep original or change location of file then go for File>Save As
Have a look here for some basics.
 
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Thanks for that info link - looks good, I will check that tutorial out.

Well, part of this comes from my basic understanding that an external hd needs to be formatted for mac if I want to save anything to it. Reading the current files off it is no problem, but I need to be able to work with them, save them on the same hd and add new files as well. From what I gather so far, I can do this only if I dump everything off of this HD, then reformat it to mac, then move everything back to it. After I do that, I can no longer use it on a PC, correct?

How about data DVD's -- when burning from a USB hd, or copying files from DVD (or CD) to a USB hd, do those files reside on the internal hd or RAM during the process, or do the files only live on the two external media?
 
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... an external hd needs to be formatted for mac if I want to save anything to it.

ok not exactly true, you can access Ex2/3(Linux) and NTFS(Windows)[or FAT for that matter] filesystems if you have the appropriate driver, so your external drive doesn't have to be formatted to the HFS+ filesystem, although it is better if you're the only1 using that drive, no harm done

same goes for using a HFS+ drive on a pc, you just need to find the correct driver or software

however it seems to me that you're struggling with trying to understand how file management works when it's really not essential - even if you have different filesystem drives then you can still copy from one to the other ... even if the actual data being copied between two different filesystems is stored someplace during the process, it won't affect the outcome, it doesn't matter AT ALL if the data resides on your internal hdd with a different filesystem then say a DVD and a Flash-drive

your internal drive is formatted to HFS+ and if you plug in a FAT flashdrive you get from a friend using Windows, you can easily access all the data and copy in some of your own with no loss

>>>
more to the point of your second post, what you're proposing (dump data, reformat the disk and so on) will work ok and yes, most Windows users trying to access your newly formatted HFS+ drive won't be able to work with it (they would need special software) ... but it has nothing to do with having to store data in RAM or on your internal hard drive
 
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ok not exactly true, you can access Ex2/3(Linux) and NTFS(Windows)[or FAT for that matter] filesystems if you have the appropriate driver, so your external drive doesn't have to be formatted to the HFS+ filesystem, although it is better if you're the only1 using that drive, no harm done

Currently, the external hd I'm using I can only read files from it on the mac. I'd like to keep it as is and be able to edit / add to it from the mac. Can you elaborate on how I might be able to do this w/o reformatting the drive, as you indicate? Do I search for and download a particular driver? Much thanks!
 
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Currently, the external hd I'm using I can only read files from it on the mac. I'd like to keep it as is and be able to edit / add to it from the mac. Can you elaborate on how I might be able to do this w/o reformatting the drive, as you indicate? Do I search for and download a particular driver? Much thanks!

I assume you had the drive hooked up to a Windows machine and have it formatted to NTFS ... of you're a Linux user then the following doesn't apply.

You have two options to working with the NTFS filesystem: either use the free NTFS-3G or Paragon which is paid. (there is also Tuxtera which is paid, improved 3G) Both of these basically do the same basic thing, give your system NTFS read/write compatibility

you're likely to choose ntfs-3g so here's a link:
Download NTFS-3G 2010.1.16 - Free read/write NTFS file-system driver for your Mac - Softpedia
it requires MacFUSE to be installed as well:
Download MacFUSE 2.0.3.2 - A FUSE-Compliant File System Implementation Mechanism for Mac OS X - Softpedia


Personally I've used NTFS-3G for about a year and it works fine, but keep in mind it is a 3rd party driver so it won't be perfect ... one thing to watch out for is to unmount the hard drive when using on Windows (you remember that nifty little icon with a green arrow next to the clock?) or you won't be able to mount it on your Mac ... and trust me, this will happen sooner or later that you'll just yank out the cable without disconnecting the device properly, so heads up

Anyway, if you don't need to share the external with a Windows machine, it would be more convenient to use the Mac OS native HFS+ filesystem .... that's your call though
I guess this is a stage most people have to go through, going through the hassle of preserving NTFS on their externals ...
 
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Excellent - thank you very much, I will try this.

I am working with business confidential files, so the files cannot reside on the mac's internal drive or exist in RAM if at all possible - everything must be on the USB drives that the client provides for my work, but I need to be able rename edited files, transfer files from one USB drive to another, etc. Basically, the mac should only serve as a tool to work with the documents and they stay on the client USB drives , not preserve any copies or record of them internally. Does anyone know if this is realistic, or, if there is record of the files on the mac when I am done, is there a way to erase those files or that record? This is a new issue for me since I have always worked on clients machines.

Thanks!
 
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Bump to see if anyone can steer me toward some resource regarding my last question.


Thanks!
 
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I am working with business confidential files, so the files cannot reside on the mac's internal drive or exist in RAM if at all possible - everything must be on the USB drives that the client provides for my work, but I need to be able rename edited files, transfer files from one USB drive to another, etc. Basically, the mac should only serve as a tool to work with the documents and they stay on the client USB drives , not preserve any copies or record of them internally. Does anyone know if this is realistic, or, if there is record of the files on the mac when I am done, is there a way to erase those files or that record? This is a new issue for me since I have always worked on clients machines.

I think if you open a file from a flash drive, edit the file, and save it, it saves it back to the flash drive, and it is not on your hard drive anywhere.

Transferring between two flash drives seems possible if you have both docked at the same time, but I've never tried that.

If you have to copy a file to your hard drive, then throw it away and empty the Trash, you'd have to wipe the free space on the drive to get rid of any trace of it. I think you can do that with Disk Utility, booted from your installation disc. I use TechTool Pro for that function.

Corrections to any of the above gratefully accepted.
 

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