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Sharing PC formatted drives on a Mac

With the popularity of Apple Macintosh, you may find the need to have a hard drive that can be used with both PC's and MAC's.

lacie_hard-drive.jpg

The latest version of Mac OS X can read standard PC hard-drives that are formatted as Windows NTFS or FAT 32. However, there are a couple of catches:

  • If you have a hard-drive that is formatted as NTFS which stands for (New Technology File Ssytem), Mac OS X can only read the partition. It cannot write to it.
  • If you have a hard-drive that is formatted as FAT 32, Windows XP only allows a maximum partition size of 32 Gigs. This can be particularly annoying if you are working with large drives, such as a 1 TB drive. You'd end up with over 30 partitions on your desktop.
  • The largest file size for a Fat 32 partition is only 4GB.  This can really cause a problem for video editing systems, since files can easily exceed that.

The trick is to use your drive manufacturer's disk-formatting software which will allow you to format your drive as one large partition. Formatting your drive as one large FAT 32 partition is the easiest way to make a drive so it can be used with both PC's and Mac's.

If you cannot find the manufacturer's software, look into downloading a shareware program called CompuApps SwissKnife.  It will allow you to create one giant FAT 32 partition for your hard drive.


Another option is to purchase third-party software that allows PC's to read Mac formatted drives.  This requires that you install the software on your PC in order to read Macintosh formatted hard-drives.  I recommend a company called Mac Drive which will allow you to read/write to an Windows NTFS partition on a PC.

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