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External drive QUery

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Drew Zalecki
External drive QUery
on Dec 27, 2009 at 1:25:13 pm

I'm wondering as to the best way to format an external drive. Currently I have a 500gb external formatted with FAT 32 and notice that it will not let me transfer files over 4gb... this becomes quite annoying very quickly.

Ideally, I'm looking for:
-compatibility with both MAC and Windows
-unlimited file transfer size

What is the best way to format a hard drive based on this criteria?

Regards.


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Bob Zelin
Re: External drive QUery
on Dec 27, 2009 at 7:09:10 pm

no such thing. That is why FAT32 exists. 4 Gig limit however.
You want to have a 2 terabyte drive to be able to move back and forth between a MAC and a PC, just by plugging it in. Doesn't exist. And if I am wrong, and you find out how to do it - please let me know. If you format NTFS or OS-X Extended, and have massive drives, they will not allow you to transfer instantly. FAT32 just plugs in and works.

Bob Zelin




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Drew Zalecki
Re: External drive QUery
on Dec 27, 2009 at 10:08:59 pm

Thank you so much for the information!

My bigger concern is the 4gb limit... with mac/PC compatibility a secondary concern.

If I were looking to use a hard drive specifically with macs, and wanted to do away with the GB transfer limitation, what would be my best bet?

Kind regards.


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Bob Zelin
Re: External drive QUery
on Dec 28, 2009 at 12:02:44 am

there is no 4 Gig limit. When you buy a PC, you go into the Microsoft Disk Manager, and reformat your drive to NTFS. When you buy a MAC, you reformat your drive to OS-X Extended. No limitations. On the MAC, you will get no "warnings", and you can transfer any size file you like. On the PC, when you format, if you want to exceed 2 TB (terabytes, not gigabytes), you will get a warning asking what to do - select GPT partition, and you will have no issues.

Bob Zelin




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Dave Klee
Re: External drive QUery
on Dec 31, 2009 at 4:59:58 pm

Okay, two basic options for you that, like Bob said, won't give you any problem on the system you formatted it on.

If you format the drive NTFS using a Windows computer, it will work great on a Windows machine. Nearly unlimited file size. However, if you plug that drive into a Mac, the Mac will see it as a read-only volume. Your Mac can view most files, but cannot modify anything or write to the drive.

That problem can be fixed by purchasing this software for a Mac that Mikkell referenced (less than $40): http://www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-for-mac/
That software allows you to read and write to an NTFS drive attached to a Mac. Perhaps there's a free version somewhere that I don't know about.

The other option is to format the drive HFS+ using a Macintosh computer. It will work great on your Macintosh machine with almost no file size limitation (8 Exabytes). However, Windows will not understand the Mac-formatted drive at all if you plug it into a Windows computer.

Here again, you can install software on a Windows computer ($50) that will allow you to read and write to a Mac formatted drive called MacDrive: http://www.mediafour.com/products/macdrive/

Now, there are some more creative options for you if you're interested in sharing files between systems -- like using a NAS box as a file server to transfer files over ethernet. Or share files between computers on a local network using built-in file sharing on either OS. Neither may fit your needs, but both work well on local networks and avoid that 4GB file size limitation.

Really, though, if you're primarily using a Mac, you generally want to format your hard drive with a Mac (HFS+, or as Apple Disk Utility calls it, "Mac OS Extended"), and if you're primarily using a Windows computer, format it with Windows (NTFS). That's my rule of thumb unless I know I don't care about big files and I need maximum portability between Mac and PC (usually smaller USB thumb drives), then I'll go FAT32, which Apple Disk Utility calls "MS-DOS (FAT)."

Hope that helps, and good luck!



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mikkell khan
Re: External drive QUery
on Dec 28, 2009 at 2:06:23 am

I would suggest you format to NTFS format and then download a program for your Mac called NTFS-3G or something of that sort. It will allow you to read and write to NTFS disks. Thus, you can use both PC and MAC with the drive.

Ensure that you safely remove the drive from whatever operating system you are using however, as if you don't, you will get an error message on the other.

Mikkell Khan
Director
Diamond Films Ltd. (Trinidad and Tobago)


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