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Old 04-17-2010, 04:58 PM   #1
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Default EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32


I have a PC XT and planning on buying a new computer in a few months - It's not clear yet whether PC or iMac. At that time I'll need to work on another Mac as well (regardless on which one I buy), but will not be able to install any software on it; currently I do NOT have access to a MAC.

I need an external Disk with which I can go back and forth between PC and MAC, and will be able to READ AND WRITE with both.
The options that I can think of are:

1. Use disk format Fat 32.
2. Format for Mac, install on the PC software to read/write.
3. Communicate via network.
4. Using a flash drive...

2. Will not work out since currently I have a PC only and have to use NTFS for the PC and put data on it; I will not be able to install on the mac software to read it as will be needed in the future.
3. Is out of the question.
4. Is a pain; very limited amount of data - might not be sufficient,
need to constantly get on&off

This leaves FAT32. I am not bothered by the 4GB file size limitations. I am not sure what are the partitions limitations and consequences - what are they? My main concern is the stability of fat32: is the likelihood for it's failure much higher then other formats? I am lost and would appreciate your help. Thanks!!!



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Old 04-19-2010, 02:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

Are you not able to install ANY software on the mac you'll be using? Because a program called MacFUSE has been used for a while now; I used to use it on my school computers after I purchased an external HD.

http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/

It will allow the Mac to read and write to an NTFS hard drive. I'm not sure about the latest requirements for it, but this used to work for me a few years ago.
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Old 04-19-2010, 04:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

Thank you.
No, I won't be able to install any software on the MAC!
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

FAT32 should be just fine. It just isn't as efficient with file storage as NTFS is, IIRC. I have to use FAT32 for my flash drive for school here since I have a PC and our classwork is done on a Mac. You shouldn't have any problems, at least none that I can see anyways. FAT32 is pretty stable. In fact, in my experience, I've had a few NTFS formatted drives go corrupt because I forgot to "eject" them first. I haven't had a FAT32 formatted drive go corrupt yet on me by doing this. Although, it largely depends on if the drive is being written to/read from at the time of removal. But that's all way more info than you need haha.
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

If you're storing small, non critical files then FAT32 should be ok. Unlike dude's post above though I've noticed the opposite, in my experience FAT32 partitions have gone corrupt far more easily than NTFS. That said, people should take care with both - neither are bulletproof, despite the impressive looking NTFS papers that make it seem like it's next to impossible to corrupt. Not so. Off topic a bit, but personally I wish support for XFS and ZFS was more widespread. The former is blindingly quick, the latter is so resilient I've seen it run without corruption on drives with so many bad blocks their SMART status was dead! Filing systems is something where the open source market really has the bleeding advantage at the moment...
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

Yup. I kinda figured that it largely depends on who the person is and how they treat their drives in terms of corruption/failure.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:10 AM   #7
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

Thank you Dude & Berry120 for your input.
I am really desperate and lost.
I must get a disk last month!
Pleeease help ASAP!

1. RE Fat32: now I'm confused, stable / not-stable. It would be helpful to have results from a larger group sample. Are you aware of any impartial survey done (I haven't found any)?

2. Flash drive: however they come formatted, they work on both Mac and PC. Are flash drives formatted FAT32? They are too small to have a problem with file size limitations.

3. Partition limitations: What are Fat32 partition limitations? The info that I got is not clear.

4. External disk choice & formatting: I was leaning towards Lacie d2 Quadra, because it has, in addition to eSata, fire-wire 400 AND 800 while WD Home Edition (which is a little smaller & lighter, and cheaper) doesn't have fire-wire 800. However, the WD Home Edition comes formatted FAT32, which is advantageous if FAT32 is the solution.

Where can I find the FAT32 formatting software? is this formatting straight-forward?

5. Solution? If Fat32 isn't stable (as I heard) what is the solution?
Which of the above disks do you recommend?

Thanks a million!
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: EXTERNAL DRIVE FOR PC (XP...7) AND MAC - STABILITY of FAT32

Quote:
Thank you Dude & Berry120 for your input.
I am really desperate and lost.
I must get a disk last month!
Pleeease help ASAP!

1. RE Fat32: now I'm confused, stable / not-stable. It would be helpful to have results from a larger group sample. Are you aware of any impartial survey done (I haven't found any)?
You're really overthinking this way too much! Just go with FAT32 and be aware that it's not the best file system on the planet by any means and your data is prone to corruption, so be sure to take regular backups. That said, that should apply WHATEVER file system you're using.

Quote:
2. Flash drive: however they come formatted, they work on both Mac and PC. Are flash drives formatted FAT32? They are too small to have a problem with file size limitations.
Yup - they usually come formatted with FAT32 these days for compatability reasons.

Quote:
3. Partition limitations: What are Fat32 partition limitations? The info that I got is not clear.
Some partition tools won't let you create partitions larger than 32GB, and some will forbid partitions larger than ~500GB - but I'm pretty sure the actual limit is more than you'll run into.

Quote:
4. External disk choice & formatting: I was leaning towards Lacie d2 Quadra, because it has, in addition to eSata, fire-wire 400 AND 800 while WD Home Edition (which is a little smaller & lighter, and cheaper) doesn't have fire-wire 800. However, the WD Home Edition comes formatted FAT32, which is advantageous if FAT32 is the solution.

Where can I find the FAT32 formatting software? is this formatting straight-forward?

5. Solution? If Fat32 isn't stable (as I heard) what is the solution?
Which of the above disks do you recommend?
Honestly - you're overthinking this. I'd really just pick FAT32 and be done with it!
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