Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Formatting an External Drive for Mac OS X and Windows

I do a lot of video editing. Anyone who does video editing knows that this activity burns through hard drive space like a match on a gas-soaked haystack. I think right now, sitting on my desk, there are 11 or 12 terabytes worth of hard drives. And they're all full except for the new ones I got today. All those hard drives are formatted with NTFS, which means they are fully usable on my PC laptop, but read-only usable on the iMac. I've been using the iMac more and more lately, so I need to be able to go back and forth with the drives.

And that brings me to the formatting problem. Formatting the new external drives as NTFS is workable on the PC because, well, it just works. If I format them for the Mac, though, they're unusable unless I buy a product that makes Mac-formatted drives visible on the PC. Not gonna happen.

So, what to do?

Turns out exFAT is perfect for this. Searching around, I found someone else with the same problem, which is how I found out about exFAT. Good stuff. The disadvantages listed on the Wikipedia page are not particularly relevant to me. (I have no plans to put more than 2.8 million files in a folder.)

Now my new external drives are cross-platform (well, at least Windows and Mac OS X cross-platform) and I have three more terabytes of free space. That should last at least a couple of months.

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