NTFS external hard drives and the Mac

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macOS & Mac Apps

I'm trying to decide whether to get a Mac Book Pro or a PC. The answers to this question could effect my decision.

I have 2 NTFS external hard drives I've been using with my old Windows XP machine. One is my main external drive and the other one is for backup only. I have read that the Mac does have read-only support for NTFS but I'm not sure if this is true. If the Mac can read my hard drives, what I want to do is to reformat my main drive for use with the Mac and copy everything from my backup drive to the SSD on the Mac, then reformat my backup drive for Mac use. Is this possible, and if not, how much would the software cost that will either allow the Mac to read and write to my NTFS drives, or convert my drives to whatever format the Mac uses? Thanks.

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Submitted by Nathan Stocking on Saturday, February 20, 2016

NTFS can easily be read by OS X, so copying your files should be extremely simple. In order to reformat the drives, simply use disk utility. I suggest you use EXFAT as your formatting scheme, rather than standard FAT (for file size reasons) and Mac OS Extended (HFS) because windows can't write to that.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Saturday, February 20, 2016

Paragon makes a read and write NTFS driver, but it's not free and I haven't tried it personally though I heard success stories.

Yes, you can read NTFS drives on OS X, so you can copy your files off. If you then want to reformat the drive, you can either format it as HFS, which is the native OS X filesystem, which won't be readable on Windows, or ExFat, which should be readable and writeable by just about anything - OS X, windows XP with service pack 3 or newer. THat's probably your best option if you want a drive that you can use with both operating systems. ExFat is an updated version of FAT32, so it doesn't have some of its annoying limits like the max file size being 4GB.

Submitted by Nathan Stocking on Saturday, February 20, 2016

I have had some extremely bad experiences with paragon software thus far. I obtained their bootcamp backup solution last year, and used it regularly to backup my windows drive. This was great, as my hard disk failed several months later. However, while trying to restore my data, the process did not function. I could extract my files from paragon's proprietary format, but my more standard file backup had already gotten those. The benefit of sector-for-sector backup was ineffective, and the data could not be restored in a bootable manner. Furthermore, bootcamp backup could not be installed on El Capitan, and when I attempted a hack to do so the program crashed taking most of the OS with it. Therefore, I would advocate using a different system for accessing your NTFS drives.

Submitted by Raul on Sunday, February 21, 2016

To write on NTFS drives I use Tuxera NTFS for Mac. It is also a paid solution but there are no issues like Paragon ntfs has. You can try it for seven days I think, or maybe for a month, I don't remember. Another solution is reformating your drive in ex-fat as other folks suggested, but my drive was much larger than my internal one so I couldn't back it up while formating.

I read somewhere that EXFat is proprietary to Windows and would not work on OSX, but I guess whoever said that was wrong. It's easy to backup and reformat my drive because I have everything backed up to another drive that is the exact same size as my main external drive. I'm only using about 70 GB, so I shouldn't have any problem with space. Does EXFat work on 4 TB drives?

Submitted by Nathan Stocking on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Exfat is compatible with OSX, Linux, and windows. It is designed for high-capacity drives like your 4tb one. It is probably the most effective option easily available.

Submitted by Josh C. on Friday, February 26, 2016

In reply to by Nathan Stocking

Thanks to everyone who replied to this thread. I decided yesterday to go with a Mac Book Pro. I couldn't find any PC that had all the specs that the Mac I'm getting does. I'm going to be working with a whole lot of audio, so the Mac seems to be the best solution. I'll probably reformat my drives on Sunday, which is the day I back everything up every week. The particular Mac Book Pro I'm getting has to be ordered, so it will probably take a week or so for it to come in.

Submitted by jaan ali on Saturday, February 27, 2016

hi which mackbook are you getting? i mean which modle? what is the configuration?