Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Formatting Large Hard Drive (greater than 32 GB) with Fat 32 to work with both Mac and Windows

If you are a user who uses both a Mac and a PC (OSX and Windows) you may come across a scenario where you need to use an external Hard Drive for both Operating Systems to backup and transfer files between the two. Most external Hard Drives are formatted in the Windows NTFS file system format, and unfortunately Mac OSX only allows you to read files from NTFS, but you cannot write files to NTFS.

Some solutions for this problem include the purchasing of a software that converts files and folders to NTFS as you attempt to copy them to the external Hard Drive, the most notable one out there is Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X which at the time of this writing supports OS X 10.9 Mavericks already! Of course the software does cost $19.95, and may therefore not be an option for some users. 

A much simpler solution is to format the Hard Drive using the Fat32 file system format which all Mac OS X versions already support. The problem that most users run into when they attempt to format an external Hard Drive larger than 32 GB is that the built in Windows Disk Manager does not support it. 

An easy solution to this problem is to use a Disk Utility Software such as Seagate Disk Wizard. This utility is FREE if you have at least 1 Seagate Hard Drive on your sytem, but you have to purchase the professional version if you do not. If that is not the case for you, you can use a similar tool called "AOMEI Partition Assitant" to do the same.

For Seagate Disk Wizard, you can follow the steps below to do this:

  1. Install and Launch the Seagate Disk Wizard by downloading it from HERE for free and running the executable. 
  2. Select "Add New Disc" to do a simple partitioning and formatting.

  3. Select the correct disk and follow the wizard prompts. 
  4. Select MBR or GPT. MBR is recommended for partitions smaller than 2 TB.
  5. Select the Unallocated disk and then Create new partition.
  6. Change the File system: to FAT32. If you prefer, you may manually select the partition letter and add a label. Select Accept.
  7. DiscWizard will display its progress.
  8. Select OK when complete.
That's all you need to do! Now you can plug your external USB Drive into both a Mac and PC and read and write from both operating system.

NOTE: Another small point to keep in mind is that if your Disk Space is larger then 3TB in size, in order to have the whole disk as 1 partition it will have to be GPT, not MBR. Otherwise you will have to create multiple partitions.

To convert from MBR to GPT, do the following:

1. Open a command prompt on your windows Operating System.
2. Type "diskpart" and press enter.
3. Type "list disk" to see a list of disks on your system.
4. Enter "select disk #" where "#" is the Disk Number from the list provided.
5. Type "convert gpt" to convert the disk to GPT. 

I hope this helps others looking for an easy solution. Feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have. 

Pete Soheil
DigiOz Multimedia, Inc.

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