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Cross-platform file system

Is there a recommended filesystem to use when sharing an external drive between the Mac and PC? I understand there are options for Macs to read/write NTFS filesystems and also for PCs to read/write HFS+ filesystems. Is there a preferred filesystem or perhaps a different filesystem that both Mac and PC and read/write?

I know I could use FAT32 but some of the files I use are larger than 4 GB (i.e. Virtual Machine images)

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marked as duplicate by Daniel Beck, nhinkle, Sathya Mar 6 '11 at 13:42

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3 Answers 3

If the hard drive is going to remain plugged into one computer or the other and shared over the network for the other computer's use, then use whichever the best filesystem for that computer is (NTFS for Windows, HFS+ for Mac).

If you're going to switch which computer the drive is plugged into, use NTFS. The NTFS-3G driver for MacFUSE is fairly mature, and without Boot Camp you are going to have a tough time getting Windows to recognize HFS+ filesystems.

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Thanks for the advice. My current external drive is formatted as NTFS so using NTFS-3G looks like a good solution. I was wondering how the NTFS-3G driver stacked up. –  webworm May 6 '10 at 15:43
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If you're using Snow Leopard, Apple had native NTFS read/write in it, but they removed it just before the release (unknown reason, but supposedly because it wasn't stable). Google on how you can edit fstab on Snow Leopard to get NTFS write permissions.

So you can format your drive as NTFS and use Snow Leopard's native write. I personally use it on my 16GB thumbdrive and my 250GB external HDD and there hasn't been any problems so far.

Only thing that irritates me is that the Trash for that external drive resides in that external drive. Remember to clear your trash before removing your device or it'll take up unnecessary space.

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try exFAT, which becomes available for more and more OSes. OS X supports it since 10.6.5, Windows supports it since Vista. There are updates for oler Microsoft OSes.

exFAT supports large files.

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