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Format External Drive for Windows and Mac

by hayden86 / October 16, 2006 5:34 PM PDT

For some reason, I cannot even format my external hard drive (that was originally used on a PC) with my mac. Anyone got any ideas how I can do this. Disk Utility doesn't seem very helpful.



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How is it attatched?
by grimgraphix / October 16, 2006 9:10 PM PDT

USB... firewire?

Your computer specs and OS?

I also assume you were the original owner or was it given to you? Was it running recently?



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Beware that setup.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 16, 2006 9:38 PM PDT

Even if you get it working, I'm experiencing too many owners losing it all. Here's the story and why.

1. To share a volume between Mac and PC the current common file system is FAT32.

2. FAT32 is fragile. Don't write to me about this or ask how to fix it.

3. If I have the FAT32 USB/FIREWIRE connected drive and I pull the USB or FIREWIRE cable out without ejecting the drive or doing a "nice" shutdown, the drive contents can go missing. Again, don't write to me asking how to fix this.

4. OK, that should be enough information and warnings for you to get a FAT32 partition formatted and exchanging files with the PC and MAC.

What I want to stress here is such a volume is only good for exchanges and never to be trusted as your only copy.

Have fun,


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Your subject title is misleading
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 16, 2006 9:41 PM PDT

Do you want to format this drive for EXCLUSIVE use with the Mac?


Do you want to format this drive for use with both Mac and PC?

This is not impossible


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Apologies for confusion
by hayden86 / October 17, 2006 3:20 AM PDT

First of all I would like to apologise for any confusion raised. My 13" Macbook with all software updates has been randomnly shutting down (as they do) and so I want to use my external USB hard drive to backup all my data (preferably with use with a windows machie as well). If I use FAT32, how safe would that be with my data if I do what I'm told by the OS? Also how do I go about formatting it in the first place as for some reason disk utility won't let this happen.

Thanks again


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FAT32 is unsafe.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 17, 2006 4:09 AM PDT

Good for copying from here to there but given the weekly losses I'm seeing, not a safe filesystem for USB drives.

Don't count on it keeping your files.


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Where do we go from here?
by hayden86 / October 17, 2006 5:32 AM PDT
In reply to: FAT32 is unsafe.

So to simplify. If I just want to store on a mac based external hard drive, how do I format and what do I format to?

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The docs.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 17, 2006 5:40 AM PDT
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