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What is the best filesystem to use cross-platform (Linux, Windows, OS X) which supports disk sizes of at least 2TB and file sizes >4GB?

I'm planning to use it on a USB drive on different computers.

Are there any filesystems that can be used on all the named OSes without installing additional drivers?

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More about the environment? Read write? One machine? Network shares? – AthomSfere May 19 '13 at 19:22
read/write support would be great. used as a usb-drive on different computers. – Zulakis May 19 '13 at 19:22
This question is not not constructive. There is a specific set of criteria, and filesystems support these criteria or don't. There's not an infinite set of answers either, and every answer will be backed up by facts, not opinion. – slhck May 19 '13 at 21:47
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Look at this chart on Wikipedia and scroll down to the last table for "Supporting operating systems." This lists OS support by file system.

As you can see, there is no file system that is covers all OS platforms, the closest being FAT16. FAT32 is a close 2nd, requiring 3rd party driver support for z/OS.

Since you require read/write support and large files and file systems, the best option would be NTFS. Obviously, Windows OSs support NTFS. Modern Linux kernels (2.2+) can read and write NTFS natively. OS X supports reading NTFS natively and writing with NTFS-3G.

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I'm tempted to point out that that table omits AmigaOS :) (That said, I'm giving you +1) – Michael Kjörling May 20 '13 at 12:26
I'd like to propose exFAT as another solid option, mainly because getting Linux to read/write exFAT is easier than getting OSX to read/write NTFS. – Joel E Salas Jun 8 '13 at 2:19
@JoelESalas Agreed. exFAT works out of the box with OSX and Windows, and on Ubuntu all that is required is a simple sudo apt-get -y install exfat-utils exfat-fuse – user72923 Jun 15 '14 at 20:03
I would avoid exFAT. There's no backup of the file allocation table like FAT32 has; with the lack of journaling, one unsafe removal, or system freeze, during a write operation is going to hose the entire drive. – joe Sep 16 '14 at 15:50
+1 for the link to NFTS-3G. I didn't know there was an open-source NTFS driver for Mac OS. – spongessuck Mar 14 at 19:38

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