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Anyone can answer these questions regarding formatting external hard drives?

I have a few questions regarding formatting an external hard drive that you might be able to answer. 1 - What is the best format to give to an external hard drive and keep compatibility with both pc and Mac? Is it MS-DOS FAT? 2 - Is it advisable to format it to accept both OS? Do I lose something if I have it just for Mac? (except the fact it won't work on pc). 3 - Which format should I use if it is just for Mac? 4 - I tried to copy a file bigger than 4GB to a FAT32 pendrive and couldn't do it. Does this mean that my external hard drive (1.5T) won't be able to do it either if formatted to Mac? The edited videos I have usually are bigger than 4GB. 5 - If I want to copy big files onto my hard drive and have it compatible with Mac what format should I use? Will it then work with Windows?

Best Answered by

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

Amanda Wong

Answered on Wednesday, November 22, 2023

FAT32 and exFAT are compatible with both macOS and Windows. It will erase all data to format a Windows drive to make it compatible with Mac. APFS and HFS+ are exclusive for macOS. FAT32 doesn't support a file size large than 4 GB.

If you want to use the external hard drive on both Mac and Windows PC, you can choose either FAT32 or exFAT. FAT32 is compatible with some older OS but the maximum file size for FAT32 on Windows is 4GB, and the maximum HDD partition size is 32GB. However, Files bigger than 4GB can be stored in exFAT, which supports the largest partition.

If you always need to switch between macOS and Windows using the same external hard drive, then it is advisable to format it to accept both OS. If you use macOS-exclusive file format such as APFS and Mac OS Extend, after you insert the drive on Windows PC, you can only read the data but can't write to it, you will not lose any data.

To select a file format just for Mac, you should choose Mac OS EXtend for macOS Sierra and earlier versions, and APFS for macOS High Sierra and later.

Read more: APFS vs. Mac OS Extended - Which Format Option is Better


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