I just got one of those Western Digital 2TB Passport external hard drive. Is it true that if I want the iMac running Lion on it to be able to read and write any files on the drive, and to have files greater than 4GB (which FAT can't have), then it is best to reformat immediately to exFAT before writing anything to this new drive?


I'd use UDF, which also supports files bigger than 4GB, and is not proprietary like exFAT is.

You can create a UDF filesystem using newfs_udf on OS X 10.5 or newer.

Note that Windows XP can read but not write to UDF, while Vista and newer can read and write.

  • Wikipedia says that you can create a UDF filesystem using newfs_udf on Mac OS 10.5 or newer. – Wyzard Apr 27 '12 at 1:18
  • Good to know. I had no idea! I presume that's what it uses for burning CDs and DVDs. I was under the opinion UDF was only used for that sort of media. – user3463 Apr 27 '12 at 3:33
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    UDF isn't commonly used except on DVDs, but I think people have just forgotten about it. I've been using it on my 16GB flash drive, which moves between Windows and Linux systems, and it works fine. Note that Windows XP can read but not write UDF. (Vista and newer can write.) – Wyzard Apr 27 '12 at 3:37
  • I sort of need both Read and Write for this drive using Win 7 and Mac OS X Lion... – nonopolarity Apr 27 '12 at 19:36
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    is there advantage of using UDF? such as write speed... or else what's wrong with using a proprietary format like exFAT (provided that it works fine)? – nonopolarity Jun 25 '12 at 8:17

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