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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Macbook+PC+external hard drive....

Macbook+PC+external hard drive....
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Feb 3, 2007, 08:54 PM
 
I had a rather simple/dumb question: I am going to buy an external hard drive and would like to know if I can use it for both my mac and pc. Does the hard drive have to be formatted for either pc or mac, or can both be used simultaneously? I will be getting a firewire/usb connection to utilize the firewire in the mac.

thanks for your answers...
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 09:05 PM
 
You can use it for both your Mac and PC, but with a few caveats. Partitioning is your friend...

Any partition formatted for Windows using the FAT32 file system can be read and written by both Mac OS X and Windows, but because of the nature of FAT32 you are limited to ~32GB for such a partition.

Any partition formatted for Windows using the NTFS file system can be read and written by Windows but only read by Mac OS X. If you plan on booting Windows NTFS is probably considered the "normal" file system these days as it does more stuff than FAT32 (file permissions, smaller cluster sizes, larger file systems, etc.).

Any partition formatted for the Mac OS cannot be read by Windows without some add-on Windows software like MacDrive. Your mileage may vary with that...I've never used such products.

You can, of course, mix-and-match these partitions to your liking on a single drive.

If you have an Intel-based Mac you can also use software like Parallels (with a Windows install) to read-write a USB-connected external drive's partitions (FAT32 or NTFS) if you allow Parallels to control the drive (Parallels can switch between letting Mac OS X or the Windows environment control any USB device). I'm fairly sure Parallels can't control Firewire drives in such a way (at least not yet).

This is *my* plan to dump my old PC soon for a Mac mini (format a big NTFS partition on an external USB drive for the few times I need to do a big Windows project). I plan to chop up my 160GB drive into a 32GB FAT32 partition for stuff that I need both Windows (via Parallels) and Mac OS X to read and write and the rest as an NTFS partition for Windows to read-write and Mac OS X to just read.

EDIT: for more questions you might want to check out MacNN's Alternative Operating Systems forum.
( Last edited by Voch; Feb 3, 2007 at 09:17 PM. Reason: (Added link to Alternative OS forum))
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 09:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by Voch View Post
You can use it for both your Mac and PC, but with a few caveats. Partitioning is your friend...

Any partition formatted for Windows using the FAT32 file system can be read and written by both Mac OS X and Windows, but because of the nature of FAT32 you are limited to ~32GB for such a partition.
FAT32 allows for partitions up to 8TB. Microsoft's partitioning utility only supports creating drives up to 32GB because that was the limit when they deprecated it. OS X (or a variety of 3rd party apps for various OSs) can create FAT32 partitions larger than 32GB, and both OS X and Windows can read/write partitions larger than 32GB. However OS X has reportedly poor performance reading/writing FAT32 partitions.

Originally Posted by Voch View Post
Any partition formatted for Windows using the NTFS file system can be read and written by Windows but only read by Mac OS X. If you plan on booting Windows NTFS is probably considered the "normal" file system these days as it does more stuff than FAT32 (file permissions, smaller cluster sizes, larger file systems, etc.).
With macfuse - Google Code and NTFS-3G Read/Write Driver Home you can read and write NTFS partitions on OSX.
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 09:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
FAT32 allows for partitions up to 8TB. Microsoft's partitioning utility only supports creating drives up to 32GB because that was the limit when they deprecated it. OS X (or a variety of 3rd party apps for various OSs) can create FAT32 partitions larger than 32GB, and both OS X and Windows can read/write partitions larger than 32GB. However OS X has reportedly poor performance reading/writing FAT32 partitions.
Really? I may have to check into that. Sorry for the mis-info...

EDIT: Wowee! I made a 40GB FAT32 drive out of my external USB pocket drive. I shoulda tried that earler...

With macfuse - Google Code and NTFS-3G Read/Write Driver Home you can read and write NTFS partitions on OSX.
Are these trustworthy? I've heard some bad things about writing NTFS without Windows, but that may be old thinking on my part.

Voch
( Last edited by Voch; Feb 3, 2007 at 09:32 PM. Reason: Added comment about trying FAT32)
     
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Feb 4, 2007, 02:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by Voch View Post
Are these trustworthy? I've heard some bad things about writing NTFS without Windows, but that may be old thinking on my part.
From the NTFS-3G site:
The driver currently is in BETA status, which means that no data corruption or loss has been reported during ordinary driver use, nor found in our extensive quality testing before release of the latest version, however we are aware of certain usability issues and driver limitations which are all documented and planned to be resolved in the future. It may be revealing about the high reliability of the NTFS-3G driver that an increasing number of users find hidden hardware faults, and several Microsoft released NTFS bugs during NTFS-3G testing and usage.
     
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Feb 5, 2007, 01:56 PM
 
To the OP: I use a 60 GB external Firewire drive formatted FAT32 to share files between my Mac and Windows and have not had any problems (yet).
I do not like those green links and spam.
I do not like them, Sam I am.
     
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Feb 5, 2007, 06:48 PM
 
I have a THREE HUNDRED GIG external/networked drive that I use with both. The CoolMax CN550 enclosure has both ethernet and USB interfaces, so for casual transfers I leave it on the network, but for real serious ones, it's just a USB cable away-and that's NICE!

(The enclosure's own format utility made the FAT32 partition and formatted it. No sweat and a lot faster than Windows would have done it.)

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 11:59 AM
 
I've installed Windows 2000 on a partitioned external hard drive and Parallels is working fine with it. Right now I need to know how to change the Windows 2000 from thinking that it is using a 16 color VGA monitor. Anyone got an answer for that? I thank you in advance.
kirktalon
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 12:05 PM
 
Okay I figured it out myself. I just needed to install Parallels tools.
kirktalon
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 12:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Marco338 View Post
I had a rather simple/dumb question: I am going to buy an external hard drive and would like to know if I can use it for both my mac and pc. Does the hard drive have to be formatted for either pc or mac, or can both be used simultaneously? I will be getting a firewire/usb connection to utilize the firewire in the mac.

thanks for your answers...
I had an issue similar to this.

I already had a Freecell 40Gb external harddrive, which i had had for years. Then the 40 Gb corrupted itself, i tried reformating it a few times but it never worked, So i went out and bought a new 60Gb one.

Now i thought since my old one, which was exactly the same brand, would work the same way. But it seems that the 60Gb was formatted to windows, so i had to get my old 40GB one fixed and i now use that for both.

But i can't reformat the 60GB on my mac because it formatted just to windows, but the other external one (the 40GB) is MS DOS formatted so i am asuming that is what the other would should be as well. sadly there is nothing i can do, so check it before you buy it.
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 12:54 PM
 
The only problem (for myself, at least) I foresee formatting a big drive FAT32 is the file *size* limitation of 4GB-minus-one-byte. I still use AutoGK for Windows to DiVX the occasional movie while I wait for the Mac DiVXing products to add some more bells-and-whistles and those files can be quite large.
( Last edited by Voch; Feb 9, 2007 at 12:55 PM. Reason: typo fix)
     
   
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