If you need to expand your storage space with an external hard drive and you use both Mac and PC, you'll likely run into a few obstacles.
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Hard drives advertised as being compatible with Windows and Mac OS may have misled you into thinking you could actually use one hard drive for both computers. Here's a look at how the different HD format types function:. According to the list above, formatting your hard drive to FAT32 so that you can read and write on either OS seems like the obvious solution. The video and directions below will guide you through the process, but before you format your HD to FAT32, beware of these drawbacks:. The good news is, it's not FAT32 or nothing.
The alternative solutions do require more tinkering, but if you do not want to risk FAT32's lack of security, choose from one of the following alternatives. If you keep your hard drive's out-of-the-box NTFS format for all the reasons FAT32 displeases, there's a workaround that will allow your Mac to read and write files to the drive.
However, it is an open-source program, so use it at your own risk. Many have vouched for its success, but others complain about bugs. The commercial solution, which will give you access to support and software updates, is Paragon NTFS.
How to erase a disk for Mac
Here's how:. Then, select your hard drive from the left sidebar. Now go to the Erase tab. Then, click Erase at the bottom to format the drive. Please note that this will complete erase the drive.
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Any data you want to keep on that drive must be backed up elsewhere first. This is an open-source program, so use it at your own risk. Alternatively, you can opt for paid software like MacDrive instead. Option 3: Create two partitions on your hard drive to use with each OS, separately.
Can I Use Any Flash Drive on a Mac?
This solution is a little different than the previous two because instead of having one hard drive that works with both machines, you're splitting your HD into two sections, each dedicated to a different OS. For example, if you have a 1TB hard drive, GB of storage can be used with your Windows computer, and will be dedicated to your Mac computer. You won't be able to write to the Mac side from your Windows computer, and vice versa, but it's a good solution for people who want all the advantages each format has to offer for its respective system. Here's how to do it:. Select the drive from the left sidebar, then click the Partition tab.
Select the drive, and then click "Erase. Formatting a flash drive erases all data currently stored on it. If you have already saved anything on the drive, back up the data before you format the flash drive. To back up your data, insert the USB drive into the computer you used with the drive and copy the contents of the drive to the desktop or a folder on the computer. To copy, just drag and drop the files from the flash drive menu to the desktop or desired folder.
Occasionally, a faulty flash drive becomes unreadable after it's been used for a while. If you have an older USB flash drive that's been beaten around, it may not work even if you reformat it.
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While most flash drives are made to withstand years of use, take the age and previous use of the drive into consideration if you have a flash drive that can't be read anymore. Aubrey Kerr is a writer and photographer. With a B. Her work appears on several websites including Salon. Video of the Day.