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I am a trans-OS user (coming out, I love linux and windows, one with the heart and both with the mind ;))

Somewhere in the back of my head I remember, formatting an external usb drive with windows or on windows with third party software; basically just plugging that drive to a windows machine makes something to the drive so it will never forget windows again. I actually don't believe electrical current running through windows is anyhow biased...but...

What is the most innocuous strategy to prepare a factory blank external (trans-) usb drive for windows, linux and if feasable any OS else?

share|improve this question… NTFS is not perfect in Linux, never will be. It's proprietary to Microsoft and Windows. – Kruug Jan 22 '13 at 1:02

If you know for certain that you'll never need anything more than 4GB files (they can always be split) then FAT32 is probably the one that works best between all operating systems. Keep in mind that a DVD ISO image can easily go over 4GB, so think long and hard about this.

Personally, I would use NTFS. Modern Linux distributions have no problem with NTFS partitions and there are no file system limitations that you will run into. Using something like EXT2/3/4 on Windows will be troublesome. There are programs that will read and write these types of partitions, buts its easier if you can mount the drive as an actual drive. Especially if you want to have the option of plugging it into a friend's machine to copy some files.

share|improve this answer
This guy ^. NTFS is the key; everything has the best all round support for it now and you can store files over 4gb. Also you get journalling which you don't on FAT32. If for some reason you're using a Mac, check out macFUSE and the NTFS driver for it, or if that is too slow (which it is) try the Paragon NTFS driver. Also! Windows (since XP or so) has come with a tool to convert FAT32 to NTFS. Never had it cause a problem. – Justin Jan 21 '13 at 22:35… NTFS is not perfect in Linux, never will be. It's proprietary to Microsoft and Windows. – Kruug Jan 22 '13 at 1:02

Format it in the FAT16/32 format if you know you'll never need to move any file larger than 4GB. This format can be read by any modern OS (*nix, Windows, and MacOS). Do not go for NTFS, exFAT, ext2/3/4, ReiserFS, etc.

You can do this from any OS.

share|improve this answer
Not sure why the downvote. NTFS is not fully supported under Linux due to it being proprietary to Microsoft. There's still a large chance of losing/corrupting a part of the drive.… – Kruug Jan 22 '13 at 1:04

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