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Hard Drive Formatting for Mixed Mac/PC Use - Update
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Hard Drive Formatting for Mixed Mac/PC Use - Update

Title: Hard Drive Formatting for Mixed Mac/PC Use - Update
Today's issue of (the on-line successor to MacWeek trade magazine) had the following blurb on the subject of moving hard drives between Macs & PCs. One responder asserts that "Windows 2000 only supports FAT32 partitions up to a size of 32 GB." Have any of you bumped into this limitation? I've just ordered a Mac-formatted 250 GB drive that I'll need to reformat to FAT32. Having to make eight partitions to meet the 32 GB limit would indeed be a drag -- I will need to mount the drive on Windows 2000 Pro SP2 machines, as well as XP.

Note also the caution re using MacDrive on a Windows machine, and the purported benefits of using the DrivePC module of the Intech SpeedTools for FAT32 formatting from a Mac. Feedback on either assertion is welcome.



***** From 30 Sep 2004*****

More good tips arrived from readers who have wrestled with the issues of moving hard drives between Macs and Windows computers:

[Kevin Purcell] The FAT32 disk format supports drives up to 2 terabytes in size. The easiest ways to parition/format a FAT32 drive larger than 32Gbytes are:

under Mac OS X using Disk Utility to format the drive as misleadingly named "MS-DOS File System". This limits you to one partition. If the drive is less than 2Gbytes in size, you will get a FAT16-formatted drive; otherwise you get a FAT32-formatted drive. This works for drives larger than 32 Gbytes.

Under Windows XP, using the Disk Management snap-in allows you to format FAT32 drivers larger than 32 Gbytes.

Under free/open source OSes with their disk partitioning tools.

The one limitation to keep in mind if you use FAT32 as a common format: You cannot create a file larger than (2^32)-1 bytes (this is one byte less than 4 GB) on a FAT32 partition. And Microsoft Windows 2000 only supports FAT32 partitions up to a size of 32 GB. For more details see these Microsoft KBs
Description of FAT32 File System in Windows XP Limitations of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP  <;EN-US;310525>

[Dan Lee] Simply format the drive using a Mac. Mac OS X can format a disk in the FAT32 format, and it imposes no artificial limits the way Windows XP does. (I believe this works under OS 9, too.) Of course, this only works for external drives... but that's exactly what we're talking about here, yes?

[Jose Manuel Araque] I wanted to warn people that I have seen MacDrive 5 trash several drives and Windows installations... not the Mac drives, but the Windows drives where it was running from. This happened in a couple of my machines and a couple of my friends' machines running Windows XP and 2000. Even if it's slower networking is the safer way to go.

[John Fu] You can use the
DrivePC utility in the Intech SpeedTools package to format and partition FAT32 volumes on the Mac without the annoying 32GB FAT32 partition size limit in Windows XP. Also, Intech says that they do a better job of FAT32 formatting than Apple does.
   SubRosaSoft just announced
FileSalvage , which claims to do "file system independent" data recovery for several file types. I haven't tried this, but it could be worth a look.

[FireWire Depot Support] The current release of SP2 for Microsoft Windows XP has introduced a problem with 1394b devices.  The drivers installed by SP2 limit the performance of a 1394b host controller (PCI card) and its connected devices to only 100Mbs (S100) speeds.  More specific information on this problem can be found by doing a search on "XP+SP2+1394b" on Yahoo and Google.
   While this is a Windows-specific problem, it can have an indirect impact on Mac users  who move a 1394b drive enclosure with a drive formatted as  FAT32 (or NTFS) between their Mac and Windows systems.  Mac users will get full performance when connected to the 1394b port on the Mac computer, but will notice a serious decrease in performance when the drive is connected to their WinXP/SP2 machine.
   Both Initio and Oxford have released firmware patches to over come this problem.  If you are using an Initio 2430 based 1394b enclosure or an Oxford 912 or  922 based 1394b enclosure and you are moving your drive back and forth between your Mac and your WinXP/SP2 machine, you should contact the vendor you purchased the 1394b enclosure from and get the firmware patch and apply it.
   If you are not moving drives between Macs and Windows machine, you do not need  the patch as it will have no impact on your Mac-based devices.

***** End article *****
Jeff Kennedy
Vegetation Ecologist/Biogeographer
Information Center for the Environment
Dept. of Environmental Science & Policy
University of California, Davis, CA 95616
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