View Full Version : External HDD Enclosure - What File System to Use?

12th August 2004, 03:10 PM
I've just got myself a Firewire/USB2 Enclosure for data storage between home (mac) ~ work (win) and I have no idea what's the ideal file system to use to get max performance, compatability and stability on both platforms.

Most common file system to use in this case is FAT32, despite of being a dodgy as it is. Once you break the 20GB+ barrier that file system is shockingly unstable... <_<

suggestions on what to use?&#33; comments/feedbacks from external hard drive owners/user is also appreciated :lol:

Asher Tuzza
12th August 2004, 07:07 PM
this really comes back to what you define as USE?

if your going to use it as ascratch space on your mac while dling video editing...
or if you just want to &#39;read&#39; files from it - or maybe a bit between the two options - you want to &#39;swap files between machines&#39; but thts about it....

read AND write on BOTH computers????

if read only on the mac - use ntfs
if read and write on both computers - i would consider your options of installing additional software on the windows box? also which computer is going to give you MOST usage?

check www.macwindows.com (i think)

kim jong il
14th August 2004, 05:40 PM
I think the gist of the posts are: Use what the PC is happy to use and then get the mac to communicate with that. Is that about it? (what follows is my 20 cents worth which, may or may not be meaningful)

Macs (mac compatible OS X app&#39;s/files) are compatible with windows file systems. Windows (/files) is/are not designed to be compatible with macs. (In fact, some microsoft sites encode files to ensure that if you are on a mac you cannot view content: (wankers; my rant for the day. REALLY annoyed me yesterday - microsoft &#39;.wmv&#39; files from a certain &#39;microsoft&#39; site won&#39;t open with media player)) What I mean is find what will work with the windows machine and then get a mac helper app&#39; to access it.

Don&#39;t waste time looking for a &#39;PC&#39; solution to joint access. Get the mac to talk to the &#39;PC&#39; device not the other way round. Everything should be good if you use a common file format.


14th August 2004, 07:09 PM
I use fat32 on my external hard drive and my iPod. Works the best. Every OS can read it, windows, OS X and linux. So everything is good :)

18th August 2004, 09:46 AM
How do you format the iPod as FAT32 if you are syncing on a Mac ?
Is this possible ?

When I applied the second most recent iPod update (2.1?) it reformatted the iPod as HFS.
And now there is a iPod updater 3.0.1....

18th August 2004, 05:59 PM
Originally posted by larfinboy@Aug 18 2004, 09:46 AM
How do you format the iPod as FAT32 if you are syncing on a Mac ?
Is this possible ?

You need a windows machine to format the iPod with fat32. It&#39;s the only way to make the iPod a useful external hard drive. Since the apple file system is pretty useless on anything other than a mac.

22nd August 2004, 04:38 PM
sorry for not getting back to this thread, I&#39;ve ended up going a 100GB NTFS partiton for windows and 12GB FAT32 as my mac swap. Just dump everything onto the FAT32 and move them in the NTFS when I get on a PC, which is fairly often :)

problem solved, atleast for now (when I do more HDD consumption work in the future I&#39;ll definatly need to re-structure the HDD, so your suggestions are still welcome) :lol:

2nd February 2005, 06:39 PM
I just finally bought a IceCube Pleiades 200GB external HDD.

I&#39;ve scanned the forums - here and elsewhere - in search of formatting issues and file structures.

Whilst I am now exclusively a Mac man... I do want to be able to take the drive over to mates house - and let them get stuff off it... and also for me to be able to put stuff on it. Almost exlusively they are Windoze / PeeCee people.

So it sounds like I have to format it as something called FAT32.
In Disk Utility I only have three options under the Erase tab though...

Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
Mac OS Extended
UNIX File System

Now this might be the most stupid question ever asked in here...
but does UNIX File System=FAT32?

Or do I need to download something else to format the drive before I put all my video files on it?
Thanks for your help.

2nd February 2005, 06:59 PM
I have a 200 gig external HDD formatted as Mac OS extended journalled (according to disk util)

I can both read and write on both Mac and XP.

19th February 2005, 11:26 PM
Holy crap is it that simple?? just format it as journaled and it works in xp aswell...

awesome, i don&#39;t want to touch fat32 (too many bad experiences with it), ntfs is preferably obiviously but if there is a viable mac alternative that as you say read and write in both osx and winxp then i&#39;m all over it...

so yeah anyone else willing to test if this is the case??

19th February 2005, 11:49 PM
Originally posted by king89@Feb 2 2005, 06:59 PM
I have a 200 gig external HDD formatted as Mac OS extended journalled (according to disk util)

I can both read and write on both Mac and XP.
That&#39;s not my experience.

Disk Info (on the mac):

Finder view (duh):

Windows XP thinks it&#39;s a new disk:


20th February 2005, 01:27 AM
oh ok, thanks for the heads up... macdrive it is or i take my chances with 5 phat partitions :P

20th February 2005, 01:16 PM
Also note that the implementation of FAT32 under Windows XP is only partial. The max volume size is 32GB and the max file size is 2GB, even though the actual specs for FAT32 are greater than that and may be implemented to different degrees on differing platforms. HFS+ with Journaling enabled will not be useable on a PC. I also keep a FAT16 partition (max partition size is 2GB) on my external drive as many platforms have FAT16 support (most importantly Linux&#33;)

21st February 2005, 06:42 PM
Also, FAT32 drives come into problems when you copy over Mac documents with long filenames - they usually work, but some don&#39;t for some inexplicable reason.

I&#39;d say dual partition your drive, 50% Mac OS Extended for stability and reliability under Mac OS, the other 50% (or less) FAT32.

That said, you can purchase a utility such as MacOpener that allows you to read Mac OS Extended partitions under Windows. I&#39;ve used it in the past and it was quite transparent and fast, albeit you need it installed on any PC you plug the drive into (although you could have a small FAT32 partition with the .exe installer ready and waiting if this occurs).


21st February 2005, 06:56 PM
If you want windows to support HFS/HFS+ filesystems in the way of read/write capability.

Purchase a copy of MacDrive. This application enables windows to read/write HFS/HFS+ filesystems.