External HD in Mac OS Extended - How Do I Move On?

I currently have a 1TB external HD formatted to Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) with about 200GB of media on it, and I rely on an old MacBook (circa 2007, running 10.5.8) to access this drive. I REALLY want to discontinue relying on the MacBook and eventually move away from the Apple platforms altogether. If I plug it into my PC, I can't access ANY of the files, by which I mean, I can't play the music or even explore the drive.

Is there a way for me to make these files, mostly music, readable on a PC? Even better, is there a way for me to write to the drive with a PC?

If you need any other details, please let me know, and

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  1. Is it possible for you to move the files to the old MacBook? If yes, move them to the old MacBook, format the drive (links below), and copy (move) the files back to the external drive. Without the use of specialized software the drive needs to be formatted as FAT32 to be compatible with both a PC and the MacBook. However, there is a file size limit of 4GB with FAT32 so you won't be able to move files larger than that. I have read that you could format the drive as exFat which would elimate that problem.
  2. kenrivers, thanks for your reply.

    Due to space constraints on the MacBook's own hard drive, I am unable to move the files onto the MacBook itself. If that seems like a fairly major roadblock, what specialized software could I use for reformatting the drive without losing access to these files? Alternatively, could I purchase another external HD, format that to FAT32, and then transfer from the current external (in Extended Case-Sensitive, Journaled) to the new one (in FAT32)?
  3. Hey there - you cant format without erasing the disc. So yes, you will need another source of storage in order to remove all of the files from the external hard drive, format to Fat32 or exFAT and put the files back on it.

    You could either buy another hard drive, borrow one from a friend, or (depending on the size of the files) burn data to DVDs
  4. If you purchase an external drive, or borrow one as suggested above, you should be able to do what you said (format the new/borrowed drive and then copy files from the older external drive to the new/borrowed one). To my knowledge there is no specialized software that allows you to format without losing files during the formatting process. deadlockedworld makes an excellent suggestion of burning the data to DVDs and thus saving the expense of a new drive. If you choose to burn the files to DVD make sure you verify the data was written and the files are there.
  5. I've had this same problem - actually with 4TB in a proprietary mac-formatted RAID. Not having a spare 4TB to copy that data to using my MacBook Pro, I found that the simplest solution was to use either:

    - Paragon HFS+
    - MacDrive

    They're both software solutions for Windows that grant it HFS+ read and write support. Ideally the drive would be formatted differently, but both of these get the job done. It's also generally handy to have HFS support for friends who have mac formatted drives.
  6. Is there enough room on the hard drive to partition it and format the second partition as ntfs? If so I would do that and transfer the files over to the ntfs side.
  7. Thanks all for the helpful replies so far. I'm pretty happy I finally decided to join the forums here.

    While I could partition my current external (into, say, two 500gig blocks), I think it's probably safest, long-term, to purchase a second external, especially given the relatively low price of single TB drives these days. The only remaining question I have is:

    Should I format the new drive to exFAT or FAT32? Again, I'd like this drive to be shared among OS's, and across devices, I'm currently running OSX, Windows 7 and Ubuntu.

    Current plan:
    -Purchase new external & format to exFAT/FAT32
    -Transfer files from Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) external to the new one
    -Get some peace of mind about not being bound to a flagging, five year old MacBook
  8. pensandpencils said:
    Should I format the new drive to exFAT or FAT32? Again, I'd like this drive to be shared among OS's, and across devices, I'm currently running OSX, Windows 7 and Ubuntu.

    You should use FAT32. FAT32 is older and kind of slow at transfer speeds, but is the most widely accepted format and will work with any device.

    exfat is a newer format that works with newer PCs and Macs, and has some advantages -- particularly for USB thumb drives and other devices that are plugged in and out a lot, BUT this format will not work with older computers. (cant promise Ubuntu will work with it)
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