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How can I share an external hard drive between a Mac and a PC?

I just received a Seagate 1TB external hard drive. I'd like to be able to use it on both my mac and pc simultaneously. I realize that they use different disk formats (my Windows machine uses NTFS, while I'm not sure what a mac uses). How can I make this a reality?

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marked as duplicate by BinaryMisfit Oct 31 '09 at 21:49

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.

I looked for a duplicate as I was sure I'd seen one recently, but (obviously) didn't find it. – ChrisF Oct 31 '09 at 21:53
By simultaneously do you mean having the drive working in both computers at the exact same time? – Josh Hunt Oct 31 '09 at 23:44
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If I'm not mistaken, Mac OS can read from NTFS partitions, although it can't write there. Therefore, if this wouldn't be a problem, just go for NTFS and you'll be happy. If read-only is not enought, use MacFuse which allows you to also write to NTFS file system.

I'm not a Mac user, never tried this, but anyway, I hope it helps.

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MacFuse is the thing to go for. Combine it with NTFS and you're ready to go. – bert Nov 1 '09 at 14:59

You might want to investigate NAS drives:

A NAS unit is essentially a self-contained computer connected to a network, with the sole purpose of supplying file-based data storage services to other devices on the network. The operating system and other software on the NAS unit provide the functionality of data storage, file systems, and access to files, and the management of these functionalities.

This will sit on your network and both your PC and Mac should be able to access it without problem.

You can buy empty NAS enclosures (without hard-drives), just transfer the hard-drive out of the enclosure you have. Make sure the enclosure is compatible with your hard-drive first.

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You mean to tell me there's no driver or kind of wrapper that's written to allow files on a mac to be pushed to ntfs or vice versa? – Chris Oct 31 '09 at 21:45
I'm not saying that - see the other answer - just that going the NAS route will mean that all that's done for you. – ChrisF Oct 31 '09 at 21:46
Interesting solution. The MacFuse solution was the style of solution I was looking for, but I hadn't thought of this. +1 – Chris Oct 31 '09 at 21:49

Either a NAS like ChrisF said, or mount it on your Windows machine, share it and then connect to it from your Mac.

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Let's break it down:

Mac uses an HFS+ filesystem

Windows uses FAT32 and NTFS file systems

The only filesystem that is read and write is FAT32 but it is limited to a 4GB max filesize transfer

There is a program that lets you read and write called MacDrive and will allow files larger than 4GB.

PS. I would recommend dividing your drive into 2 - 4 partions if you want it to last longer

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Why would dividing the drive into 2-4 partitions make it last longer? – Chris Oct 31 '09 at 22:02
partition size has an effect on the cluster size used for allocation; big partitions use bigger clusters, small partitions create smaller clusters. The effect is to waste less space using smaller cluster sizes. Large files benefit from large clusters (DVD/BlueRay Backups) and many small files (MP3s, image files, etc.) use smaller clusters. Large partitions are harder to backup; needing massive secondary media. Using a divide-n-conquer, partitioning leads to easier management and if there's an i/o error (no physical device head crash or electro/mechanical faults),the other partition is immune. – ricbax Oct 31 '09 at 22:17

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