Harddisk formats for Mac and Windows
Harddisk backups are indispensable (see my other discussion) and completely affordable nowadays. Say you got yourself an external harddisk and want to format it, what are the choices especially that you got a Mac or want to use it both for Mac and Windows PC? Read on….In short, below are a quick solution on choices:
- for Mac only – use Mac OS Extended, journalised. Don’t encrypt for simplicity especially if you are a new user for Time Machine. This is the only solution if you want to use the external harddisk for Time Machine.
- for Windows only – use NTFS (Windows NT File System).
- for both Mac and Windows (i.e. you need to take this harddisk and plug to both Mac and Windows PC for file access) – use exFAT or MS FAT32. FAT32 is old system and has much limitations including file size limited to 4GB, poor security, etc. exFAT is a modern replacement for FAT32, exFAT overcomes the 4GB limit, but…. One downside to exFAT is that it doesn’t have any journaling functionality, which is a system whereby any changes to the files on the disk are noted in a log before they’re actually performed. This helps data integrity by recording the changes to files before they take place. The only other downside to exFAT is it’s not supported by Apple’s Time Machine software. You can still use Mac OS Extended, but when you want to access files on Windows, you need to install a software.
For more details, please refer to this excellent article.