Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I need help determining the best way to make several GB of files on an OS X HFS+ volume available to a Windows 8 machine. The basics of the situation are as follows:

We have a wheezing G4 Mac running OS X 10.4. My wife has several years of files on this machine, mostly Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. Her new machine is a Dell running Windows 8. The switch from OS X to Windows was necessitated by the need to use specialized Windows software that the manufacturer could not guarantee would run properly under Boot Camp or Parallels. The Mac is currently running the File Sharing utility to allow files to be copied from it to the Windows 8 PC as needed. I'd like to shut down the Mac for reasons of space and power consumption, but still keep the files available.

As I see it, we have three leading contenders for the task:

1) Copy the OS X files to an external hard drive which would then be connected to the Windows 8 PC. This has the advantage of requiring no new software installed on the PC. I am not certain whether FAT32 or NTFS would be the best filesystem for the external drive, nor whether there would be any problems with copying the resource forks of the files to the external (non-HFS+) drive.

2) Remove the hard drive from the Mac, put it in an external drive enclosure, and connect it to the Windows 8 PC. I am in the very early stages of researching how to get Windows 8 to read an HFS+ volume. I'd be interested to know of any experiences anyone has had with this arrangement.

3) Remove the hard drive from the Mac, put it in an external drive enclosure, and connect it to an existing Ubuntu 12.04 server on our home network. I have no experience with this configuration either, and have no idea how well Linux and HFS+ get along. The chief disadvantage I see with this would be that file transfer would be limited by network throughput.

Note please that if we use an HFS+ volume, we don't need to write any files to that volume. The files from the Mac are needed only for archival reference. Anything that needs to be updated will be copied to the Documents folder on the PC.

Any and all thoughts on any of these options, or any options I haven't considered, will be most welcome.



share|improve this question
It would be easier to place the data on a external USB NTFS partition, just add a NTFS driver to OS X, and just transfer the files to the NTFS partition. –  Ramhound Jun 4 '13 at 11:52
@Ramhound - Thanks. Two questions: 1) Are there any gotchas, such as issues with resource forks, when copying OS X files to an NTFS partition? 2) Are there any specific NTFS drivers recommended for OS X in this application? –  user127236 Jun 4 '13 at 14:11
I don't make software recomendations. Your first question makes no sense. –  Ramhound Jun 4 '13 at 15:28
@Ramhound - Okay, let me try question #1 again (and it may simply be an expression of my profound ignorance). Given that Mac files usually have resource forks, and resource forks are essentially unknown in the Windows universe, do I run any risk of losing important data from Photoshop/InDesign/Office files when copying them from an HFS+ volume to an NTFS volume? –  user127236 Jun 4 '13 at 16:45
If you are asking can data loss happen if you migrate a Photoshop file from OS X to Windows the answer is no. But you already want to migrate the files so its unclear why you are worried about data loss. Its also easy enough to just add HFS+ suport to Windows the same company that would add NTFS to OS X makes software to support HFS+ on Windows. macbreaker.com/2012/02/… –  Ramhound Jun 4 '13 at 17:39
show 1 more comment

1 Answer

When I had to access files on Windows 8 that lived on a HFS+ hard disk, I didn't bother fiddling with Windows methods, I just used Ubuntu to copy the files over.

So, in your case, I would suggest to follow your third point and use your Ubuntu server since Ubuntu can access HFS+ without any hassle. Or, as an alternative, install Ubuntu on your Windows machine and copy the files over (or don't install Ubuntu, just use it as a live OS from a disk drive or thumb drive).

share|improve this answer
Thank you. That's a technique I hadn't considered. –  user127236 Jun 4 '13 at 14:08
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.