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Cross-platform file system

I have a rather large USB drive that I'd like to be able to use across the different machines I own. I'm having a hard time figuring out what would be the best file system to use on it to be able to read/write things from the 3 OSs I'm in contact with: Windows, Linux and Mac.

Suggestions?

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marked as duplicate by Daniel Beck, Diago Jan 21 '11 at 11:39

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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duplicate of this, this, this, this, this and others. Come on folks, use the search functions. –  Daniel Beck Jan 21 '11 at 1:16
    
@Daniel, you are right. I tried to delete it but the system won't let me. –  Daniel Apr 14 '11 at 20:18
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Duplicates on this site increase the chances of others to find the related questions, so it's not that bad ;-) –  Daniel Beck Apr 14 '11 at 20:30

5 Answers 5

This is a possible duplicate of this question, but to help the individual out, here is the information that they want.

It is possible to use NTFS with all three OSs. NTFS has a maximum file size of 16TB. There are drivers made for Linux and Mac that can allow you to read and write to an NTFS file system. If you need help finding these drivers, check out this link.

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The only drawback is you can't change permissions to NTFS objects outside of Windows. Other than that, it's pretty fine. –  Tobias Plutat Jan 20 '11 at 18:12

You could use NTFS.

Windows: NTFS is built in. Most Linux distros come with NTFS-3g driver to read NTFS.
With OSX you need to get the OSX-version of NTFS-3g installed,
for that try: http://forums.applenova.com/showthread.php?t=21842&page=4

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NTFS doesn't seem ideal as you'd need to install the driver on OS X systems for write support. If you don't have Administrator privileges on the machine you won't be able to do so and write to the disk. –  Just Jake Jan 21 '11 at 0:46

FAT32 is supported by all of those Operating Systems natively. The only limitation with FAT32 is that the largest single file you can store has to be less than 4GB.

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How else does it compare to using NTFS (aside from max file size differences)? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 20 '11 at 19:48
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The more files you store, the slower you access them. Power glitches can corrupt it. No access control. Repeated read-write access creates fragmentation that slows access down. Max volume size is 32 GiB. But: filesystem is dead simple, every OS has reasonable read-write support for it, Linux ans Windows can check/fix errors. –  9000 Jan 21 '11 at 2:49

The best choice might be Universal Disk Format. Windows XP, Mac OS, and Linux all support UDF reading and writing. UDF has good Unicode support and does not have the 4gb maximum size limit of FAT32.

I believe that NTFS is a bad choice because you cannot ensure that you will be able to install the appropriate drivers on every Mac OS computer you use. UDF is the accepted format for removable media and does not require reverse-engineered drivers on any operating system.

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I thought UDF was designed for editable CDs where nothing can actually be deleted? –  ewanm89 Feb 19 '11 at 11:46
    
Later UDF versions cater for random access hard drives and flash memory. Just make sure to stick to a portable UDF version and options, see serverfault.com/questions/55089/… –  MarcH Dec 31 '11 at 10:54

In Mac OS X, use the following commands to format your large (no 4Gb limit) hard drive in FAT32.

It will be readable and writable on Linux, Mac OS X et Windows.

First, identify the disk you want to format with this command:

$ diskutil list

The output is going to look a bit like this:

/dev/disk0
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *232.9 Gi   disk0
   1:                        EFI                         200.0 Mi   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Mac_HD                  39.9 Gi    disk0s2
   3:                  Apple_HFS Data                    192.6 Gi   disk0s3
/dev/disk1
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     FDisk_partition_scheme                        *1.9 Gi     disk1
   1:                 DOS_FAT_32 CORSAIR                 1.9 Gi     disk1s1

Let's assume we want to format the Corsair USB key and name it "Millenium Falcon":

$ diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk1 MBRFormat "MS-DOS FAT32" "Millenium Falcon" 1.9G

For more info:

$ man diskutil
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