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I just bought a 1TB external hard drive from Western Digital - My Passport. I am planning to use it for couple of things;

  • Store my music
  • Store my videos
  • Store my pictures
  • Store my designs
  • Work as a portable drive for my work files
  • Have it host a Linux system

Whenever I try to format it in Windows it gives the option of either NTFS or exFAT. I am planning to use this drive across both Linux and Windows machines. So my question is what is the best file system for what I am trying to do?

Should I create separate partition for my media, files and potentially the system?

(if so how would such drive appear when I plug it in? Will it show as say 3 different drives, each for its partition?)

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marked as duplicate by Bob, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, davidgo, Scott, afrazier May 12 '13 at 1:15

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.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

What linux system will you install?

Regardless of that, Linux will create it's own partitions. When you install it, it will request space, in the form of unallocated space or a partition it can remove. You select space, or a partition (of sufficient size), and it will create at least two partitions in this space.

To have space for your files, use Disk Management in Windows to partition the external drive. You can choose the size of the partitions; depending on your use of packages in Linux this partition will minimally require somewhere around 8GB, but more might be useful. The rest can be your data partition.

When you install Linux, select this partition to install it in.

To answer your question; Linux will choose its own file system in the installing process. Your choice is somewhat arbitrary.

It will also show three different partitions/disks when plugging in, but due to the Linux file system windows might not be able to open the Linux partition; That is why you need a separate data partition.

Edit: As Sekhemty pointed out, Linux does not force you to use certain file systems. My apologies, I was unaware.

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Linux don't necessarily forces you to use a filesystem over another or to create a fixed number of partitions; it has some preferred settings but the user can freely choose his optimal configuration. – Sekhemty May 11 '13 at 12:51
Thank you for your help. You answer was great! Thanks again. – Jakub May 11 '13 at 12:53

If you are planning to use this disc as the actual Linux OS disc, then it will need to have an some sort of ext partition for that. However, Windows Dow not get on very well with ext, so I would suggest formatting a separate partition as NTFS for the general file storage and sharing between systems. When you plug this into your PC it will appear as a different drive per partition, but as one partition will be ext, this probably won't happen as your computer can't "see" it without the downloading extra program's.

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Thank you for your help. Thank you for clearing the idea on showing the drives on Windows. Will format it now. Thanks again! – Jakub May 11 '13 at 12:53

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