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External Hard Drive - For use with MAC, Linux and Windows

Hey everyone,

I am interested in getting a 2TB external hard drive for use with my MAC, Windows and Linux systems.

I am wondering what issues I might have considering the different file systems? Which file system can work will all three systems? FAT32?

Would there be any issues with the size of hard drive (2TB) on a FAT32 system?

Can anyone recommend a specific brand of external hard drive that could work with all three systems?
you need to format it with fat32.

last time (when windows xp still around), windows cannot format big hd to fat32, so i format it with mac. first need to create partition under windows (if no partition exist), and do not assign drive letter first. then plug it into mac and go to its command line to format to fat32.

sorry, can't remember the exact command to format it in mac, but you can google for it. quite long command.

also, you can use third party program under windows that can format big hd to fat32, i remember acronis was one of it (not free), but there must be other free utilities for windows.

also, if you are using vista or windows 7, you might check under control panel, admin tool, computer management, disk management (this is the one that you use to create partition in the first place), to see if newer windows can format big hd to fat32. maybe they already enable this option after windows xp.

one limitation for fat32 is you cannot store big file (if i'm not mistaken bigger than 4G) . so before you copy over big file from network, make sure to check it's less than 4G (or whatever max size, google it), and don't make the same mistake i made. last time i left if overnight and the next morning windows just tell me not enough free space. i spent the whole day figuring out what was wrong.
You could make 2 partitions, of 1 TB each, or 500GB and 1.5TB on the other partition, and one partition has fat32, and the other has NTFS, which can be read by other OS's as well.
That way, when using the hard disk on different systems, and if you have a problem with one partition which may not be recognized... at least you will have the other partition to use.

With MAC, and Linux reading both the partitions are fine, but if you try to connect to some present media players, they might not regognise the NTFS parititon currently, which I had a problem with earlier.
So I used to have one fat16 partition, which was bootable, and one fat32 partition for movies and the ntfs partition for data and softwares.
Hope this additional information helps.
I suggest you use NTFS file system, it supports larger capacity than FAT32.
And you mentioned you will use Mac, Windows and Linux, I suggest you create different partition to store them. Under the Windows OS, you can through Partition Assistant to release partitions.
If your system is 32 bit, free partition manager can do you a favor, if it is 64 bit or server OSs, server partition manager gives you a hand.
well, To be frank, I dunno much about MAC.

Having said that, I also think that the NTFS should be the thing to go. It supports larger files, All the linux version (at least 95%) supports it and there are some security features that you can apply in NTFS.

Then again, It is best to partition the drive to 2 or 3 9 or even 4 max) partitions. That way, You wont have any issues when you plug it in to older Operating systems and all Smile
I think two 500GB partitions, and one 1TB (there wont be full 2TBs to store :p ) would be fine.

Anyways, That is how I gonna go with my Seagate 2TB external HDD Very Happy. can't wait till I get it.
I bought a Seagate GoFlex 2Tb a week ago that included a driver to use NTFS drives with my Mac. It works pretty well, really, and allows me to store files >4Gb on it (FAT32 limit). I haven't looked into whether such drivers exist for Linux yet, as I have no reason to hook it up to my server, but it might be worth looking into.
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