Formatting

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Formatting and File Systems

A file system is the underlying structure that a computer uses to organize data on a hard drive. Before a new hard drive can be used, it needs to be partitioned and formatted with a file system, allowing it to store data and programs. There are three different main file systems used today (NTFS, HFS/HFS+ and FAT32)

  • NTFS. This is the preferred file system for all Windows operating systems newer than Windows 2000, and is designed to support larger hard drives than FAT32.
  • HFS+. HFS+ Plus is the file system used by all Apple computers. These hard drives are referred to as "Mac OS Extended".
  • FAT32. FAT32 is used by many older Windows Operating Systems. It can be read and used by both Mac OS and Windows, making it a good choice for formatting external hard drives that will be used by both Mac and PCs.

Physical Connection

  • Thumb drives - Simply plug the device into an unused, powered USB port. The placement of these depend on what type of computer you may be using.
  • Hard drives - Use an IDE/SATA to USB connector or an external USB drive case.
  • Micro/SD - Use the appropriate card reader connected to USB.

NTFS

Linux

Many distributions of Linux-based operating systems now come equipped with NTFS format and read/write tools. Specifically, see the ntfsprogs and ntfs-3g packages.

Windows

1. Right-click on Computer, and select Manage. In the left-hand pane under Storage, select Disk Management.
2. Find the mounted drive in the lower pane. Right-click it and select, New Partition. It should use the following properties,

  • Format as NTFS
  • Primary partition
  • Assign a drive letter

3. Right-click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the taskbar before physically disconnecting the drive.

Mac

Currently there is no write support for NTFS on Mac. However there are Third Party Applications which allow a Mac to read and write to NTFS.
NTFS-3G is an Free and Open Source program for Macs to enable read/write functionality on NFTS drives.

Macs running Snow Leopard(10.6)should install the
Macfuse driver, in order to make NTFS-3G to work properly. Newer Macs running Lion, Mountain Lion or Mavericks (10.7-10.9)need to install
FUSE for OSX to make NTFS-3G to work properly.

FAT32

Linux

1. Unmount the drive with the command, umount /dev/sdX1.
2. Enter, mkfs.vfat -F 32 /dev/sdX1.

Windows

1. Right-click on Computer, and select Manage. In the left-hand pane under Storage, select Disk Management.
2. Find the mounted drive in the lower pane. Right-click it and select, New Partition. It should use the following properties,

  • Format as FAT32
  • Primary partition
  • Assign a drive letter

3. Right-click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the taskbar before physically disconnecting the drive.

Note. Newer versions of Windows will not format drives larger than 32 GB in a FAT32 format. If you wish to do this, you will need to use an alternative operating system (Mac OSX or Linux) or use third party software.

Macintosh

1. In the menubar at the top, click Go, and select Utilities.
2. Double-click on the Disk Utility icon. Select the drive in the left pane.
3. In the right pane, select the Erase tab. Select "MS-DOS"in the drop-down.
4. Provide a new drive name and click Erase.