FAT32 formatting for external hard drive

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I think this is a pretty basic question, but I can't find the answer. I'm going to get an external hard drive to use with my MacBook Pro (OS X), but I'd also like to be able to use it with another laptop, which is a PC. I don't want to keep it in FAT32 because of the 4GB limit, though. So my question is, does the drive get erased every time you reformat it? I was thinking I would just reformat it when I want to use it with the PC.

Also, is there an easier way to do this, or some way around the 4GB limit?

Thanks in advance!


  • Reply 1 of 2
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,177moderator
    Yeah, the drive gets erased during a reformat generally although I think you can move FAT32 to NTFS without a reformat.

    NTFS is fine, if you get MacFUSE along with the NTFS driver called ntfs-3g, it will allow you to read/write an NTFS drive and you get no 4GB limit. Performance isn't great but it never is with Windows filesystems.

    Another option is to have two partitions - a FAT32 and an NTFS - but as I say, with the MacFUSE extensions, you can interact just fine with NTFS drives.

    In fact, in Bootcamp, the Mac drives show up now so you might be able to use HFS+ and install Bootcamp drivers on your PC.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    There are HFS+ drivers for Windows. At least, there used to be. Don't know if they still work with Windows 7 (and I especially don't know if they work with x64).

    Personally, I'm a fan of network attached storage. Would that work in your situation? Any good NAS would use a more modern filesystem (probably a Linux one).
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