Can you swap a external hard drive between Mac and pc without affecting it?

I have a iomega 2tb external hard drive which I store my movies on. I want to know if I swap the drive between my Mac and my pc without doing any damage

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  • 9 years ago
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    Yes and no.

    As long as you dismount properly - Eject the drive (mac) or do a Safe disconnect (windows) there is no damage to move the drive between machines

    However, whether the data can be read and written depends on the formatting of the drive.

    If you are going to be using the drive exclusively with Windows, choose NTFS as the formatting type. (NTFS can be read but cannot be written to by Mac OSX).

    If you are going to be using the drive exclusively with Mac, choose Mac OS Extended (HFS+) as the formatting type. If the drive is to boot an Intel Mac machine, go into Partition Options and choose GUID as the partition type. (HFS+ cannot be read or written by Windows)

    If you are going to be using the drive between Mac and Windows machines, choose FAT-32 (MS-DOS in the Apple Disk Utility) as the formatting type. One option is to partition a hard drive in Mac OSX and format the first partition to HFS+, then the second partition to MS-DOS (FAT-32) for shared data. Note that Microsoft wants you to use NTFS and in Windows limits the formatting of FAT-32 drives to 32 GB. There is no limit on the OSX Disk Utility however, and larger volumes formatted FAT-32 with OSX will work on Windows machines. Note that the maximum individual file size under FAT-32 is 4 GB, so it may not work for movies.

    Reformatting the drive will delete all the data

    If you want to read and write an NTFS formatted hard drive on a Mac without reformatting it, you can install some NTFS drivers for Mac

    http://macntfs-3g.blogspot.com/

  • 9 years ago

    HDD using the file system FAT/FAT32 can be interchanged but not if it's formatted as NTFS.

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