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Are FAT32/NTFS file systems handled by Mac OSX?

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Crazyfroggy
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Hi everybody,

I'm not sure yet but I may be interested into switching to Mac.

I was wondering what was the system file in OSX. The thing is I have a huge HD full of data in NTFS format and I would like to still have access to it if I migrate.

Also, if I buy a Mac now, it would run the OS 10.4. i've seen the tour on the Apple's website and the new version Tiger seems quite promising.

My questions would be:
- can my data on my NTFS drive be handled properly on OSX?
- what is the OS upgrade policy at Apple? When is the new 10.5 due to be released?

Thanks in advance

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kc0arf
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Hello,

Check out this article: http://www.kernelthread.com/mac/osx/arch_fs.html

To summarize, OS X Default filesystem is HFS+ and you will want to use that for your main partitions. There are pieces of software out there that insist on being installed onto an HFS+ partition.

OS X will read NTFS. Won't write to it. Why? Most likely because of the security model... a Mac would need to be aware of the NT filesystem and permissions structure in order to effecitvely read and write to the disk. That is not easy to do, as how would a Mac predict both NT Workstation and Domain permissions when it is not "active"?

What I would do is get your mac, and then setup a small network to offload the data onto a different disk drive, or to CD-ROM / DVD Rom. Then again, if this is your only copy of the data, you do realize you are begging for hard disk failure and the collapse of it all.

To answer:

Mac OS X will read your NTFS Data.

Apple has in the past given reductions / free updates to those who purchase in within a certain timeframe of the next OS release. I would call a Mac store and ask them personally what the latest policy is.

Christian

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yellow
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My questions would be:
- can my data on my NTFS drive be handled properly on OSX?
- what is the OS upgrade policy at Apple? When is the new 10.5 due to be released?

As noted, OS X (10.3, a.k.a., Panther specifically) can read NTFS volumes. However, since 10.3.5, OS X has "limited" write capabilites to NTFS volumes. What does this mean? It means that it doesn't work very well, but we like to give people the idea that it sort of works... that it MIGHT work sometime. If you want to use your PC volume "seemlessly" with your Mac and a PC, the volume should be formatted with FAT32.

If you bought a Mac right now, it would come with 10.3, not 10.4. 10.4's release date hasn't been officially announced yet, but it's possible that if you bought your Mac after April 1st, that you'd get a voucher for a free upgrade to 10.4 (a.k.a, Tiger).

10.5 (Lion? Orange Tabby? Who knows..) is in the far, far, far future.. think early 2007 or something. I wouldn't sweat thinking about 10.5.

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samuri
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As noted, OS X (10.3, a.k.a., Panther specifically) can read NTFS volumes. However, since 10.3.5, OS X has "limited" write capabilites to NTFS volumes. What does this mean? It means that it doesn't work very well, but we like to give people the idea that it sort of works... that it MIGHT work sometime. If you want to use your PC volume "seemlessly" with your Mac and a PC, the volume should be formatted with FAT32.

If you bought a Mac right now, it would come with 10.3, not 10.4. 10.4's release date hasn't been officially announced yet, but it's possible that if you bought your Mac after April 1st, that you'd get a voucher for a free upgrade to 10.4 (a.k.a, Tiger).

10.5 (Lion? Orange Tabby? Who knows..) is in the far, far, far future.. think early 2007 or something. I wouldn't sweat thinking about 10.5.

Who is right? Will mac read NTFS or not?
Also is there a limit eg 4gb on the size of A FILE WHICH CAN BE TRANSFERRED to a FAT32 partion.
Can A file on a mac fat 32 partion be transferrd and read by a NTFS format eg I am thinking a avi file for example

Is their a transfer limit from FAT32 to NTFS?

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yellow
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10.3/10.4 will READ an NTFS partition, but not right to it. The file limit size is based not on transfers, as far as I know, but on actual file sinze on the volume, so there's no files on FAT32 that will be larger then 4GB. Your best bet, if you have larger files to transfer, is to format the drive as HFS+ (which has no such limitations) and then get MacDrive for the PC, which will allow it to read HFS+ partitions.

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Perigee
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put the drive in a firewire case...plug it into the mac and let it mount...then copy files from the drive to the mac until there is enough to fill a DVD or CD, then burn the data to disk...repeat until all the info you need off that drive is backed up...if you want to continue using that drive on the Mac full time, reformat it to HFS+, or set it up as a network share from a PC...I wouldn't use an NT formatted drive directly on a Mac with any regularity

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goldeagle2005
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I agree, its risky using an NTFS volume on a mac. A wrong write may destroy all data. Why? NTFS is a propriety file system, and MS has not released the details of NTFS. I'd suggest you put your NTFS HDD on a shared machine and copy the data to the mac. then, reformat as HFS+.....

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samuri
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All very useful info.
An additional permuation.
I want to access an external hard drive from both tiger and winxp pro.
does that in any way complicate transferring files from a mac to winxp via the external hard drive.
Files will almost all be mp3, pdf, and avi ,but i may run a virtual machine XP on the mac so in that case I will need to transfer windows applications via the hard drive.
It seems that the best format may be to have the external hard drive in ntfs format. My back up file of winxp is 20gb and an NTFS can handle that whilst fat32 cannot.
Have I misinterpretted anything?
Thanks sincerely

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yellow
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As noted.. Mac OS X cannot write to NTFS, so if you want to write to the disk, it HAS to be either a FAT32 disk, or it has to be HFS+ and you'll have to install Mac Drive on your PC (so it can read/write to HFS+).

As for why NTFS cannot be written to by Mac OS X.. ask Microsoft. They never released the specs.

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samuri
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As noted.. Mac OS X cannot write to NTFS, so if you want to write to the disk, it HAS to be either a FAT32 disk, or it has to be HFS+ and you'll have to install Mac Drive on your PC (so it can read/write to HFS+).

As for why NTFS cannot be written to by Mac OS X.. ask Microsoft. They never released the specs.

Thanks for the clarification
Ok I will go with Fat32. So can I transfer a 5gb file located on aNTFS system to a Fat32 system?
I will then want to transfer this to a Mac

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yellow
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I don't think so.. I beleive FAT32 has a 4GB file size limit.

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ppelleti
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Hi,

From the posts on this thread, and other web pages I've Googled, it sounds like MacOS does indeed support FAT32. However, when I stick my shiny new Transcend 4GB SD card into my PowerBook (using a Macally 4-in-1 multimedia PCMCIA adapter), it doesn't show up on my desktop. If I open up Disk Utility, it recognizes the card and shows it as being FAT32, but it is not mounted.

What do I need to do to get my Mac to read my 4GB SD card? I'm running 10.4.3 on the Mac, and I formatted the card with my Treo 650. The Treo can read/write the 4GB card just fine, and my Mac can handle smaller (FAT16-formatted) cards just fine with the PCMCIA adapter. I was assuming the problem was simply that MacOS doesn't support FAT32, but everything I've read on the Web says MacOS does support FAT32. So why doesn't the card work?

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Selwyn
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fat 32 is ok / ntfs is a no go

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Selwyn
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make sure all your info is off of your external hard drive then reformat the harddrive in mac osx journaled and it should be all ok.
Or if you have a windows pc just reformat in in fat32 and the mac will see it no problems.
I have a 1gb flash drive that i do the same thing with and it works fine.

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John A
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>fat 32 is ok / ntfs is a no go

While it's true that Mac OS X can only read from NTFS volumes by default, it's possible using the third party ntfs-3g driver to extend its capability to full read and write. The easiest way to achieve this functionality is to use MacFUSE. More info on Lifehack:
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/how-to-read-and-write-ntfs-windows-partition-on-mac-os-x.html

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