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External Hard Drive question

Last response: in Mac Os X
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November 23, 2009 5:17:26 PM

Aldi are this week selling an external USB hard drive - will this be suitable for the iMAC
the blurb says WindowXP/Vista and Windows7 no mention of the MAC..?

do USB add ons fit both PC and MAC?
November 23, 2009 6:14:05 PM

Yes, the USB interface is the same for Mac and PC.

If the drive is bus powered, your iMac may not have the needed high-powered USB ports everywhere (ie. keyboard), but it should have the needed ports on the back of the computer's body.

Unless there is something really unique about the hard drive, Disk Utilities in OSX will let you reformat the drive for Mac OS and/or Windows use.

What model is the drive? Can you post a link to the item?
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November 23, 2009 8:52:21 PM

It looks like a pretty standard external hard drive, I don't see anything to suggest it won't work on your iMac. Again, you may need to format/partition the drive first using 'Disk Utilities.'

The Windows requirements typically refer to the drivers included with the hard drive. Apple's OSX already has the necessary drivers built-in to it so you shouldn't need to install anything from the included disk.

I would really be surprised if that drive didn't work for you, but I still recommend you review Aldi's return policy and hang on to your receipt.
November 25, 2009 5:08:30 AM

Thanx. I would hang on to the receipt anyway.
I would normally go to the Apple Store for my bits but it's the 3 year warranty Aldi offer on thier electrics that gets me every time..

November 26, 2009 4:29:45 AM

Well, it will work if you format it as a Mac compatible format. Just open disk ultily and format it as Mac OS X jornalled if you will only use it with macs or FAT 32 if you will use it between macs and windows.
December 2, 2009 1:24:11 AM

amdfangirl said:
Well, it will work if you format it as a Mac compatible format. Just open disk ultily and format it as Mac OS X jornalled if you will only use it with macs or FAT 32 if you will use it between macs and windows.


FAT32? It is not as easy as it sounds, and it does have some severe limitations. If you want to use your drive for both Mac and Windows then I would partition the drive. Give your Windows partition enough room initially, and you can always shrink it latter. I would start by allocating 25% of the drive to Windows. You do need to format it as FAT32, and here is where the fun begins.

FAT32 has numerous problems, the most annoying is that you can only format up to a specific size... 32 Gb. Ouch! There are a few second party applications that will allow you to format FAT32 to any size. Hereis a freebie that will allow such. I downloaded one of these applications on my now defunct Vista box and formatted a partition. You can now go beyond 32 Gb with FAT32, but there is still one severe problem that stands in your way.

Windows will only see a drive that has been partitioned on a Windows machine. If you choose the Windows format option on your Mac, then your Windows machine will not see it. You must create the Windows partition on a Windows computer. So, if you want a drive capable of being seen by both Windows and OS X, then you need access to both the Mac OS and Windows 7.

Start by creating and formatting a Windows partition on a Windows box. Once this is done, then you can connect the drive to your iMac and create/format the Mac OS partition. Regardless of what OS you use to create the Windows partition, the Mac OS will see either. But, again, if you create the Windows partition on your Mac then NO Windows box in the world will see it.

When you are done you will have a drive with 2 partitions...one for OS X and the other for Windows. I name my partitions: "Mac_OS" and "Windows." I am not certain, but I believe that FAT32 also has problems handling certain file types. I currently have a 1 Tb Glyph external drive and have reserved 100 Gb for the Windows partition so that I can move my music from my Mac to my Windows box.

Drives that target the Apple market have one thing that you will not find on a Windows PC...FW800! I transferred over 80 Gb of audio from one FW800 to another FW800 drive in one hour! Try that with a USB drive.

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December 2, 2009 9:28:01 AM
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Yoder54 said:
FAT32? It is not as easy as it sounds, and it does have some severe limitations. If you want to use your drive for both Mac and Windows then I would partition the drive. Give your Windows partition enough room initially, and you can always shrink it latter. I would start by allocating 25% of the drive to Windows. You do need to format it as FAT32, and here is where the fun begins.

FAT32 has numerous problems, the most annoying is that you can only format up to a specific size... 32 Gb. Ouch!


That is untrue.

The maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB, the maximum partition size is 2TB (unless you use 32KB or 64KB clusters in which case you could store more).

Back before I had an external HD I used a 320GB drive to transport my files en mass from my Windows box to my Mac Pro. The entire drive was Fat32 and I could use the entire 320GB.

I agree FAT32 is an obsolete file system, but it certainly is the most supported.

You can format the drive in Mac OS X and it will still be readable by Windows.

Yoder54 said:
Drives that target the Apple market have one thing that you will not find on a Windows PC...FW800! I transferred over 80 Gb of audio from one FW800 to another FW800 drive in one hour! Try that with a USB drive.


You think Windows doesn't have Firewire 800?
December 2, 2009 10:25:57 AM

Although try finding a mac with e-sata...
December 3, 2009 2:43:07 AM

amdfangirl said:
That is untrue.

The maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB, the maximum partition size is 2TB (unless you use 32KB or 64KB clusters in which case you could store more).

Back before I had an external HD I used a 320GB drive to transport my files en mass from my Windows box to my Mac Pro. The entire drive was Fat32 and I could use the entire 320GB.

I agree FAT32 is an obsolete file system, but it certainly is the most supported.

You can format the drive in Mac OS X and it will still be readable by Windows.

You think Windows doesn't have Firewire 800?


I beg to differ. With FAT32 you can have a file size of up to 4 Gb (oops, no videos), and with the standard Windows OS you can only format FAT32 partitions up to 32 Gb. With Vista Ultimate the only formatting option above 32 Gb was NTFS. The only way I was able to go beyond the 32 Gb limit was to get second party software. So yes, you can have hard drives with more than 32 Gb formatted in FAT32, but you will not be able to do it via the Windows Disk Manager. This is not something unique to me. All one has to do is Google it and see how many others have problems formatting partitions in FAT32 that are greater than 32 Gb.

I was working with Glyph Electronics regarding the creation of partitions and formatting of FAT32 drives in OS X, and then Windows Vista not being able to mount the drive despite it being FAT32. Format using the Windows OS and all is well. According to them, I am not the only one to experience this. I know for a fact that in using Snow Leopard and Vista there are issues. If you can do it then fine, but if not then the solution above does work.

How many motherboards have FW800? I don't know of any. If you know of one, then please inform me. Yes, Windows has drivers for FW800 and you can buy cards that will allow such, but you will not find any Windows PCs shipping with FW800. So, as I said, you will be hard pressed to find a Windows PC that supports FW800.
December 3, 2009 5:51:06 AM

Yoder54 said:
How many motherboards have FW800? I don't know of any. If you know of one, then please inform me. Yes, Windows has drivers for FW800 and you can buy cards that will allow such, but you will not find any Windows PCs shipping with FW800. So, as I said, you will be hard pressed to find a Windows PC that supports FW800.

Well, here's one for starters. (But I'd agree with that eSata is the way to go.)
December 4, 2009 5:20:31 AM

I've got a Mac w/ eSATA. Of course, I had to add the PCIe car myself. Four 3Gbps ports.
December 10, 2009 6:46:57 PM

Yoder54 said:
I beg to differ. With FAT32 you can have a file size of up to 4 Gb (oops, no videos), and with the standard Windows OS you can only format FAT32 partitions up to 32 Gb. With Vista Ultimate the only formatting option above 32 Gb was NTFS. The only way I was able to go beyond the 32 Gb limit was to get second party software. So yes, you can have hard drives with more than 32 Gb formatted in FAT32, but you will not be able to do it via the Windows Disk Manager. This is not something unique to me. All one has to do is Google it and see how many others have problems formatting partitions in FAT32 that are greater than 32 Gb.

I was working with Glyph Electronics regarding the creation of partitions and formatting of FAT32 drives in OS X, and then Windows Vista not being able to mount the drive despite it being FAT32. Format using the Windows OS and all is well. According to them, I am not the only one to experience this. I know for a fact that in using Snow Leopard and Vista there are issues. If you can do it then fine, but if not then the solution above does work.

How many motherboards have FW800? I don't know of any. If you know of one, then please inform me. Yes, Windows has drivers for FW800 and you can buy cards that will allow such, but you will not find any Windows PCs shipping with FW800. So, as I said, you will be hard pressed to find a Windows PC that supports FW800.


There is no "32GB limit" to FAT32. I'm not sure if you're just seeing the number 32 and thinking that means there is a 32GB limit imposed on the partition size, but I assure you that limit simply doesn't exist. I've formatted more than one 100+ GB drive to FAT32 with no limits on the partition size. I prefer NTFS, but most external drives are formatted FAT32 to ensure greater compatability across different platforms.
December 14, 2009 12:32:13 AM

amdfangirl said:


The maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB, the maximum partition size is 2TB (unless you use 32KB or 64KB clusters in which case you could store more).


Yoder54 said:
I beg to differ. With FAT32 you can have a file size of up to 4 Gb (oops, no videos)


If only people listened...

Yoder54 said:
How many motherboards have FW800? I don't know of any. If you know of one, then please inform me. Yes, Windows has drivers for FW800 and you can buy cards that will allow such, but you will not find any Windows PCs shipping with FW800. So, as I said, you will be hard pressed to find a Windows PC that supports FW800.


Considering these cards aren't particularly expensive and the fact that e-sata is more of the standard for Windows PCs...

You'd also be hard pressed to find a Macintosh that supports e-sata, a much faster standard compared to Firewire.
December 14, 2009 3:53:16 AM

Yoder54 said:
I beg to differ. With FAT32 you can have a file size of up to 4 Gb (oops, no videos), and with the standard Windows OS you can only format FAT32 partitions up to 32 Gb. With Vista Ultimate the only formatting option above 32 Gb was NTFS. The only way I was able to go beyond the 32 Gb limit was to get second party software. So yes, you can have hard drives with more than 32 Gb formatted in FAT32, but you will not be able to do it via the Windows Disk Manager. This is not something unique to me. All one has to do is Google it and see how many others have problems formatting partitions in FAT32 that are greater than 32 Gb.

Congratulations, you stumbled across a Microsoft limitation introduced in Win 2000 or XP (not sure) so that they could make a new proprietary filesystem called exFAT which magically "fixes" this problem. You can just use the command-line format utility in XP to format partitions over 32GB anyway.
December 14, 2009 9:18:47 AM

Which is why I told you to format in Mac OS X.
!