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Formatting a HD

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Claus L. JepsenFormatting a HD
by on Nov 28, 2010 at 7:24:02 am

I have a HD that I have used for timemachines backups. Now I deleted the backup because I want to use the HD on a windows machine, but how can I format it for windows, because windows can not see the HD.

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Michael SiskoRe: Formatting a HD
by on Nov 28, 2010 at 1:03:06 pm

Hello I use NTFS-3g it is a program that allows you to format a drive and use it for both windows and mac, and it works really well. Good Luck

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Claus L. JepsenRe: Formatting a HD
by on Nov 28, 2010 at 4:56:24 pm

Thanks. I think I solved the problem by doing this:

Go to Finder -> Application -> Utilities
Double click for Disk Utility
Select the external Hard Disk you wish to format at the left column
Click on the Erase tab
At the “Volume Format” select “MS-DOS File System”


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Michael KammesRe: Formatting a HD
by on Dec 2, 2010 at 2:44:19 pm

MS-DOS formatting in OS X in a FAT file system, I believe. While this will work on both Mac and Windows, it's not the most optimized. NTFS is the format du jour for Windows.

I'd put the Mac drive into a PC, and format it. If Windows doesn't see it, then the Mac GPT partition may be preventing it. In that case, you must delete the GPT partition.

.: michael kammes mpse
.: senior applications editor . post workflow consultant
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Michael SiskoRe: Formatting a HD
by on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:19:12 pm

I concur with Michael on this, Fat is not the file system of choice here. NTFS is much more stable and makes windows happy. While the last thing I really ever think is how to keep my Windows computers happy its just best to do what they want.

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Claus L. JepsenRe: Formatting a HD
by on Dec 5, 2010 at 3:51:54 am

Thanks, I will do a happy format in windows, because a lot of other things can hurt a windows machine, so I do not need one more :)


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Jean-Christophe BoulayRe: Formatting a HD
by on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:04:48 pm

I feel I need to rectify some info in here. A FAT32 partition will not cause any problems at all on a Windows machine. All versions of Windows, including 7, have full support for the format. The problem you'll have with FAT32 is the 2GB filesize limit. If all files will be less than 2GB, you can use Disk Utility to format the drive to "MS-DOS", no problems there.

In fact, if you format your drive to NTFS on a PC and bring it over to a Mac to transfer your files, you'll discover the problem Mac OS has with NTFS: it is read-only. You will not be able to transfer your files to the NTFS drive. You can only transfer files from it.

If you need to use NTFS because of file sizes, you should use a third-party NTFS driver for Mac OS. One was listed earlier in the thread. I used Paragon's NTFS for Mac ( There's a free fully-functioning trial period IIRC, which is great if you only have this one project to settle. Otherwise, it's 20$ for a full license.

If you are on Snow Leopard, you can natively enable NTFS read/write with this little maneuvre ( As with anything using the "sudo" command in Terminal, only attempt if you understand what you're doing.

EDIT: Even better, here's a small app that will complete the above manoeuvre easily.


JC Boulay
Technical Director
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada

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Fred JodryRe: Formatting a HD
by on Dec 23, 2010 at 9:42:16 pm

MS-Dos itself, is in an old connotation, FAT16, not FAT32, if hard drives. However, since 32- bit OS Windows use MS-Dos7 internally not MS-Dos 6 or earlir, that, is FAT32 not FAT16. 128 GB maximum per regular full sized volume, not 2 GB. Use FAT 32 whenever you can in Windows if you can get along with the mere size of 128 GB per partition or volume. NTFS presents the same volume or partition size in older "service packs" but with security breakdown problems. Even my Windows XP machine gets pre- formatted with FAT32 off of a FDisk, followed with a restart and Format procedure off of a Windows 98(se) disk set. It works better and faster. Windows after Windows XP won`t install directly onto a FAT32 formatted hard drive. It has to be blank (zeroed) before formatting. A 2GB or smaller hard drive can be formatted in FAT32 insteadof FAT16 to mention, but that is merely using a small volume "percentage". (Off to dinner).

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