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I'm having the problem of needing a hard drive that can be written to by both a Mac and a PC. I have found that FAT32 might be an option, but as a video editor I often deal with files over the 4 GB limit. And since Mac doesn't read NTFS (very well with third-party programs) I'm considering FAT32.

I'm curious, what happens when you try to write a file that is over 4 GB? What is a good way around this?

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For the record: My Mac (10.5 prior, now 10.6) has had no issues reading NTFS. However, writing to NTFS is impossible out-of-the-box. So if you're OK for read-only you can go ahead and make the drive NTFS without issue. If you need read/write, go with Moab's answers or a network share as in MarkM's answer. – John Rudy Jul 7 '10 at 19:09
up vote 0 down vote accepted

You could also try MacDrive, or setting up a Samba share on another machine.

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Go with NTFS, then use this tool on your MAC


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i've tried NTFS 3g and have terrible speeds, is this a faster software? – hwp08 Jul 7 '10 at 14:45
@zm15: It's almost transparent. – Josh K Jul 7 '10 at 15:47
Quoted from the link I provided "Unprecedented high level of performance for Windows volumes with the same transfer rate as with the native Mac® OS file system." . – Moab Jul 7 '10 at 22:40

You cannot make a file larger than that on FAT32. You will get an error.

Perhaps a network share from a NAS might be better than an external hard drive?

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I have an internal SATA disk that i want to share between the Mac and Windows HD's – hwp08 Jul 7 '10 at 14:42
@zm15 is Mac OS and Windows on the same box? If not, you can just share it. – MDMarra Jul 7 '10 at 21:24
Yes, it's sitting inside the same box – hwp08 Jul 8 '10 at 13:13

As stated, FAT32 has a 4 GB file size limit. exFAT (sometimes incorrectly called exFAT) does not but is very new. It is starting to appear on small devices that use memory sticks and cards and the like. However, it doesn't appear to be easily found for the Mac either.

You can try this (apparently, it has a 15 day trial) for NTFS read/write ability - - and if it works, it's pretty cheap, in my opinion.

Or your best bet may be as suggested - get some gigabit hardware and use a NAS/run over the network. With gigabit hardware, your bottleneck will likely still be the network, but it can be fairly close to disk speeds. (Theoretical throughput of gigabit link is 125 MB/sec. Theoretical throughput of a SATA I hard drive is 150 MB/sec. And for comparison, the 100 Mbit network is 12.5 MB/Sec.) If money is really no object, then consider 10 Gbit hardware. But then you're talking probably at least $5000 for the hardware... maybe 2x that. (I haven't explored 10G hardware myself).

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What does "exFAT (sometimes incorrectly called exFAT)" mean? They both look the same to me. – MDMarra Jul 7 '10 at 21:25
@MarkM: I think he may have meant "exFAT (sometimes incorrectly called FAT64)". – Hello71 Oct 16 '10 at 23:57
Yes, Sorry for the typo - "FAT32 has a 4 GB file size limit. exFAT (sometimes incorrectly called exFAT) does not but is very new" should be "FAT32 has a 4 GB file size limit. exFAT (sometimes incorrectly called FAT64) does not but is very new" – Multiverse IT Oct 18 '10 at 17:38

Format the disk in OS X Extended (journaled) format on the Mac, and then as jrc03c said, use MacDrive 8 on Windows to read and write to this disk.

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