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Tips & Techniques:Harddrives, File systems and accessing from OS X & Windows

Here is a few short filesystem tips:


Both OS X and Windows can use FAT32 filesystem fully.
OS X and Windows have full access to FAT disks so they can also manage/repair/defrag them.
If you need a disk which you can access from OS X and Windows (and Linux too!) use FAT32.

If you are using a Mac with bootcamped Windows, I'd suggest you install windows on a NTFS partition and create a smaller FAT32 partition as a transfer partition between OS X and Windows. Please note that OS X can READ NTFS, so you can copy files from NTFS disks to OS X (HSF+)!

Drawback of using "transfer disk"is that you cannot have full access to both sides at any given time so you need to get a file from, for example from OS X's side to Windows, you need to reboot the machine to OS X and copy the file to FAT32 and if you find youself needing more files later, you need to reboot agai and go fetch it.

Remember that FAT32 can only handle files up to 4gb in size so this will become an issue when dealing with large files.
Other drawbacks of FAT32 filesystem are worse filename lenght and handling, non -existent accessright management, worse space allocation, file fragmentation affects drive's performance greatly and some other regarding Microsoft's Active Directory use.

(if you ever encounter FAT16, please convert/reformat that disk immediatly to something better. There are FAT16 formatted USB-memrysticks out there and they have caused issues with OS X!)


Microsoft's own filesystem.
If you are using Windows only, use NTFS file system.

NTFS is better than FAT32 in everyway.
It offers:
- user rights/access management for files and folders
- virtually unlimited file- and volume size
- fragmentation has much lesser effect than in FAT32

NTFS disks can be read (read only!) from OS X


Apple's own filesystem
If you are using OS X only use HFS+! Never HFS!

The old HFS is badly dated filesystem with severe limitations and some
security/realiability issues! Always use HSF+.

HFS+ works in conjunction with OS X's features and since it is the only usable option, you really don't need to worry about its features
HFS+ file- and volumesize limits are virtually unlimited.

HFS+ (and HFS) disks cannot be accessed from Windows without 3rd party software such as MacDrive.

HFS+ Journalling is meant for protection of data in heavy read / write enviroment.
Journalling impacts drive's performance a bit and it is not considered as a necessity DAW's. This article explains about journalling: Mac OS X: About file system journaling

MacDrive is an application for Window which allows Windows to access HFS+ disks. It has been very popular and it seems to work very well, you can have a trial version from their site: Mediafour | MacDrive


The Future!
ZFS is a filesystem developed by Sun and it will be the next giant leap in filesystem technology. It is ridiculously good when compared to the current options. Hopefully we will see this filesystem fully implemented in our workstations as soon as possible.

Since this article cannot edited in Wiki style just drop me a PM if I have made a mistake or feel that something more should be added.

Now go and make some music, stop tweaking that computer! :


Contributors: mw, esaias
Created by esaias, 16th May 2008 at 12:06 PM
Last edited by mw, 27th March 2012 at 03:05 PM
Last comment by dragonorchid on 17th January 2011 at 05:33 AM
1 Comments, 10,800 Views

(1) Comments for: Harddrives, File systems and accessing from OS X & Windows Page Tools Search this Page
Old 17th January 2011
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Between Macs and Windows

Under OSX on the Mac I install the Free NTFS-3G so that I can write as well as read the NTFS drives

Under Windows I install MediaFour - MacDrive so that I can read and write to the mac formatted drives

It's worked really well for me

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