External Hard Drives for PC’s and Mac’s (FAT32)

I am a PC guy.  I think that it is the best platform that gives the most options for hardware and software.  I think Mac’s a great, but they’re way more expensive and they have always felt like toys to me.  They are the Nerf brand of computer.  Unfortunately most pro studios have Mac’s and I find that I need to use my external disks both in other people’s studios and in my own.  The only decent format that works in both is FAT32, but on both platforms FAT32 is NOT the file system of choice.

Windows machines really prefer NTFS, the NT File System which has many fewer limitations.  Mac has their own file system as well.  An important problem with the FAT32 file system is that the maximum size of a file is 4 GB. Windows won’t let you format a hard drive with FAT32 if the drive is a big modern drive.  In fact Windows XP will not format a drive bigger than 32 GB with FAT32.  This is a good example of a Windows-Style Suck-a-doodle-doo.  You need to format to Fat32 with a Mac, Linux or use a third-party tool to format on a Windows machine.  Windows will read and write to a larger FAT32 drive, but won’t allow you to create one.

For Windows, the easiest tool to download is Acronis’ True Image Home.  (http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/download/trueimage/) They offer a free 15 day trial that will allow you to format large disks as FAT32.  Just go through the process for “Adding a drive…”

Acronis is a great back up software tool as well.  It allows you to create images of your system disk and incremental or differential backups as well.  I find that it better than Norton’s Ghost, but have found that it doesn’t handle hard disk failure on the destination drive very well.  Their support offerings are pretty good, but not fast.

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