Best Filesystem For Mac And Windows

Posted By admin On 16.02.22
Active1 year, 6 months ago

Ext4 Filesystem Windows 10

What is currently the best file system to use for drives that are regularly accessed (both reading and writing) from both Windows and OS X on a single machine using BootCamp. The most important points are stability and speed.

I've been using NTFS so far, coming from a Windows background. I've tried the NTFS-3G driver with Fuse and, in my tests, it was far slower than native NTFS under Windows. I also tried their commercial driver without much better results.

Afterward I tried Paragon's drivers, which were much faster. They aren't quite native NTFS speed, but they aren't far off either. The problem is I've had crashes with them, and recently had crashes + data loss with them.

I know this question has been asked before, but the posts I saw were older and the driver and filesystem options are maturing.

NTFS is the main file system that’s used on Windows computers these days, and most new external hard drives will be formatted to NTFS. Mac OS X offers only limited support for NTFS out of the box. You’ll be able to see and read files on NTFS disks, but unable to write your own files to the disk as Apple would have to license the technology. APFS: The proprietary Apple file system developed as a replacement for HFS+, with a focus on flash drives, SSDs, and encryption. APFS was released with iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.13, and will become the mandatory file system for those operating systems. FAT32: The File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32) was the standard Windows file system before NTFS.

  • I am going to buy a Western Digital My Book 500GB Essential USB2.0 External Hard Drive. I am not sure what the file system is. At the moment i am using a PC though in a few months i will be using both a Mac and a PC thus what would be a compatible file system which doesnt cause partitions.
  • The file system on WD My Book Live, WD My Book Live Duo, WD ShareSpace, WD ShareSpace, WD My Book World Edition hard drives support access from Windows, Mac and most Linux based computer systems through a SAMBA network sharing connection.
  • Originally Answered: What is best file system format for external HDs that will be used on Mac and Windows systems? Hi you didnot mention that what kind of work doing with mac and windows.If you woking with video editing fat-32 will not work for.Becasue fat-32 partition will allow you upto 4 gb only.

Options I've seen:

  • FAT32: Limited drive size? Limited permission settings
  • NTFS: Limited speed/stability under OS X
  • HFS+: MacDrive? available for Windows
Best Filesystem For Mac And Windows

Follow Up

I have now formatted one of the drives as exFAT and can confirm that this works great for both reading and writing when the machine is booted into either OS X or Windows 7.

Nathanial Woolls
Nathanial WoollsNathanial Woolls

2 Answers

If you're working exclusively with Win7 machines (i.e. no Vista or XP), and 10.6.6 or greater on the Mac side, try exFAT. Native read/write support under Win7 and OS X, and none of the file size limits of FAT32. Disk Utility will happily format your drives using it.

As long as you don't need legacy support, it's probably your best option, as it avoids any user-space filesystem drivers, which personally make me a bit uneasy.

Addendum: XP and Vista do support exFAT, Vista as of SP1, and XP with SP2 and the KB955704 update

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If you care about your data stick with ntfs or fat32(4G filesize limit!).

Had multiple drives formatted to exFat in order to use them with both operating systems (osx/win) and i cant remember when i lost so many files in such a short period of time. To my luck I had backups of everything lost.

My best experience with ntfs on mac so far is the driver by paragon - cant tell a difference from a natively supported filesystem. Tuxera and ntfs-3g gave me trouble with performance and reliability.

If you want to stick with exFAT you have to disable caching/buffering as this leads to data corruption on any error - be extra cautious on external drives (check connection, unmount before unplugging). exFAT was designed for portable battery powered devices with continiuos uncached writes, like camcorders or digital cameras and doesnt support any kind of journaling.


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Active6 years, 3 months ago

This question already has an answer here:

  • Which Large File System Format to use for USB Flash drive compatible with Ubuntu/Mac/Windows? [closed] 3 answers
  • How to mount read-write an ext4 partition on Windows? [duplicate] 3 answers

I would like to put all my movies on an external harddrive so that I can watch them on any of my various computers (Mac, Linux, PC: all latest OSs, all 64-bit), and I would also like to be able to connect this HDD to my Asus RT-N66U router (Linux-based firmware, apparently) to be used as a network drive for the same purpose.

With this in mind, what is the best file system to use across all three platforms?

I tried ext4 using Paragon ExtFS (to make the Mac read ext4), but the throughput was dismal-- it took at least an hour to transfer a single HD movie (~1.5 GB) onto the drive. And ironically the Linux-based Asus router could not even mount the drive.

All three OSs can handle FAT32, but I don't like the 4GB file size limit. I could use exFAT, but it doesn't support hard or symbolic links.

The only other file system all three can agree on is UDF, but that's meant for CDs and DVDs.

Is it down to NTFS vs. HFS+?

I feel like it's probably possible to get any file system to work with any OS so long as you can find third-party software to make it work, but this makes me worry about throughput. Compatibility is a basic requirement, but performance is also important.

Jason HartleyJason Hartley

marked as duplicate by terdon, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Breakthrough, Scott, Doug HarrisJun 4 '13 at 13:38

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1 Answer

Best Filesystem For External Hard Drive Mac And Windows

It is down to NTFS. Because you will find drivers for it on Windows (naturally), MacOS and Unix.

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