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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?

  • More about the environment? Read write? One machine? Network shares? – Austin T French 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
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    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
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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'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
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    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
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    +1 for the link to NFTS-3G. I didn't know there was an open-source NTFS driver for Mac OS. – spongessuck Mar 14 '16 at 19:38
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    @keltari while Linux 2.2+ has limited write support - see Linux can reliably read NTFS and can overwrite existing files, but the Linux kernel can’t write new files to an NTFS partition., an excerpt from this answer, which also explains how linux reads / writes to NTFS in modern times. it's definitely not the kernel driver though. – stonecrusher Oct 21 '16 at 19:25
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    NTFS is supported by linux, but performance is very poor. – RedEyed Jan 5 at 13:44

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