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I want to use this 2TB hard drive with this hard drive docking station with Mac OS X 10.6.8 and Windows 7. What file system should I choose for the partition? I plan to do the initial partitioning on the Mac.

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"FAT" it's cross-platform filesystem ,isn't it ? – wisdom Jul 29 '12 at 18:12
Is that the best choice? – qazwsx Jul 29 '12 at 18:20
For example, would using "Mac Extended (journaled, case-sensitive)" and MacDrive be advantageous? – qazwsx Jul 29 '12 at 18:21
up vote 2 down vote accepted

(Expanding on what's already been posted:)

There are several technical reasons for avoiding FAT32 format, and no compelling for choosing it if the OS on your intended host machines provide native support for the "ExFAT" format. Besides permitting cross-platform read/write — ExFAT volumes are also supported by the built-in maintenance, repair, recovery and search features of both MacOS X and Windows; 3rd-party drivers don't do nearly as well in this regard.

Neither MacOS or Windows permit booting from an ExFAT volume, so if you're planning to do that as well, you're stuck with formatting with GUID~HFS+ or MBR~NTFS, based whichever OS will be installed. In this case, you might choose to install a 3rd-party driver to mount & write to the "foreign" drive format, but you'll probably save money over time & definitely get superior compatibility and support by creating a separate boot volume on a small external drive, then employing ExFAT on another drive holding DATA to be shared between Macs and WIN PCs...

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  • You can't boot OS X from anything but HFS+.
  • NTFS is the best filesystem for Windows, but OS X can only read NTFS, not write it (unless you install third-party software).
  • FAT32 can be both read and written natively from OS X and Windows, but isn't a great filesystem for either.

If you want to be able to boot either OS, and also have a partition where both OSes can store files, then you need all three volume formats: HFS+, FAT32, and NTFS.

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