I'm considering using an UDF partition to share data between Windows XP, 7, and Linux. It's more efficient than FAT32, and avoids the 4GB max file size limit. I've found it will also work with Mac OS X, more details in this questions.

However, in Windows XP, it is read-only. I'd like to write to it too. Are there any drivers that will allow this? I've found a few that support writing UDF...but they are designed for writing to CDs or DVDs, not specifically for HDDs or USB Flash drives: DLA, InCD, Drag-To-Disc.

Will any of those 3 drivers work for HDDs/USB Flash drives? Or is there another driver that will do what I want? Thanks.

  • Why not NTFS? Also, there are ext drivers for windows....
    – Fake Name
    Aug 18, 2010 at 5:49
  • @Fake: NTFS is read-only on mac unless you install a separate driver, dunno if this has changed in recent versions of their OS.
    – davr
    Aug 19, 2010 at 18:22
  • Really? That's lame.
    – Fake Name
    Aug 19, 2010 at 23:04
  • @Fake: blame MS for that one...they actively prevent others from interoperating with their filesystems. (eg patents on FAT, lack of documentation on NTFS)
    – davr
    Aug 23, 2010 at 18:29
  • Snow Leopard has a read/write NTFS driver available, but it's not enabled by default. Last I'd heard, there were good reasons for that too -- it wasn't stable.
    – afrazier
    Aug 24, 2010 at 15:25

3 Answers 3


I've tested DLA 5.20 and Sonic Drag-to-Disc 9.05. Neither one will allow XP to write to a UDF formatted hard drive. I have not yet tested InCD, but my guess is that it won't work with hard drives either.

The only product I've seen so far that claims to write to UDF hard drives is SAI's WriteUDF! (dead link), but it's $80.

There's also the free DVD Write Now, but I doubt it will work either. The last time I tried it, it wasn't the most stable thing in the world (not good for a program that has a filesystem driver component), and it only claims to handle UDF 2.01 writing. I'm not sure whether or not that would prove problematic.

The route I've gone personally is NTFS, along with putting the NTFS-3G for Mac installer on the hard drive. Since OS X has read-only support built in, this works well.

If you want free, cross-platform, and no file size constraints, NTFS is going to be your best bet. NTFS-3G for Mac is free and performs "well enough." The company backing the free NTFS-3G also sells Tuxera NTFS for Mac, which is supposed to be much faster. There's also Paragon's NTFS for Mac software as well, but it's not free either. At least there are options.

Ext2 will also work, and there are free drivers available for both Windows and Mac, but you have to have a secondary method of getting the drivers onto your host systems. This is also a problem for NTFS and Linux. I don't know what performance or stability of the various Ext2 drivers is like.


I believe that udf is only for optical media. ntfs is supported on xp, windows 7, linux and the mac as of osx as of snow leopard. if you're on an older version of osx you can use macfuse with ntfs-3g which is an opensource project that provides read/write ntfs drivers for osx.

  • 2
    You believe wrong. Please see the question I linked to, UDF works read/write for HDDs on recent Macs, recent Linux, Windows Vista/7, the only problem is it's read-only by default on XP. Last time I tried the NTFS drivers for linux they were significantly slower than FAT or EXT3 and sucked up tons of CPU. The kernel NTFS driver is read-only, if you want to write to NTFS you have to use a userspace driver. Maybe things have changed and there are new more efficient ones available now.
    – davr
    Jun 11, 2010 at 16:39
  • UDF was first build for optical RW media, but was quickly expanded to support any block device, so can be used in CDs, DVDs, HDs, SSD, Tapes, etc. Check diskinternals.com/glossary/udf.html and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Disk_Format
    – higuita
    Jun 17, 2014 at 9:42

Have you considered exFAT?



  • 2
    Not a fan of it. File system formats should be open, free for anyone to use, not a closed standard that you have to pay MS in order to access your own data. They're just trying to push it to lock people into their platform, and failing that, extract money out of their competitors in order to have the privilege of letting users read their own data.
    – davr
    Jul 3, 2010 at 19:56
  • This format have patents issues. MS instead of solving the problems with FAT32 (or add more filesystem support to windows) is just trying to force all electronic manufacturers pay then royalties for a patch work on FAT32 ... and the user is the one who will finally pay a higher price
    – higuita
    Jun 17, 2014 at 9:37

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