How to make Hard Drive Compatible for Mac and PC

A hard disk drive (sometimes abbreviated as HDD, HDD, or HDD) is a non-volatile data storage device. It is usually installed inside the computer and then directly inserted into the disk controller on the computer motherboard. Include one or more panels in an airtight package. Use the magnetic head to write data into the board, and when the magnetic head rotates, the magnetic head will move quickly above it. The internal hard disk is located in the drive bay and connected to the motherboard using an ATA, SCSI, or SATA cable. They are powered by the connection to the computer’s PSU (Power Supply Unit). Examples of data stored on a computer’s hard drive include the operating system, installed software, and user configuration files.

How to make Hard Drive Compatible for Mac and PC

Before it starts
Before you start, you should understand some terminology. First of all, hard disk and hard disk have the same meaning. But people often use other terms interchangeably, such as delete and format, when they are quite different in reality.

Deletion: Deleting data will actually move it to an invisible folder, such as the Recycle Bin on Windows or the Recycle Bin on Mac. When in this folder, you can easily recover files. If you empty the recycle bin or trash can, the file can be overwritten with new data. This means that when your device needs to save new data, it can (and will use) the space occupied by deleted files. Before overwriting, you can still use data recovery service to recover files. The closer the files are deleted, the more likely you will recover them.

Erase: Erase or delete a file will permanently delete the file.

Wipe: Wipe refers to erasing all content on a specific storage device or hard drive. You can use data destruction software-or just smash a hammer as with erasing. If you want to use (or sell) the device again, you may want to use the previous method.

Format: Depending on your operating system, some options may be available. Generally speaking, a quick format will only delete the data on the drive, while a regular format will erase everything (erase the drive). The drive-in question can be a hard drive or a removable drive, such as a USB drive. The full format will also scan your disk to find and delete any bad sectors. This will ensure that you will not end up corrupting the file.

Reformatting: Some people use the term “reformatting”-the same word as “reformatting”!

So far, for Windows and Mac computers, you should also know some other knowledge about the formatting process.

Identify the type of hard drive
The main hard drive or C (C:) drive is the internal hard drive where the operating system (OS) is located. You may also have other internal drives to store more files on your computer. This happens when the disk is partitioned (respectively) between the main drive and other internal drives. The external hard drive is located outside the computer and can take the form of a flash drive (also called a thumb drive or USB), or it can take the form of a larger case, which can contain a solid-state drive (SSD) or a hard drive (hard disk).

Chose the right file
Now that you understand the difference between erasing and erasing and between internal and external drives, it’s time to choose the file system. The file system is the rule that controls how the operating system stores and reads files. When formatting the hard drive, you will be prompted to select the desired file system.

NTFS: If you want to format the main drive (including the operating system), you must use NTFS (NT File System), which is the default Windows file system. NTFS is also a good choice for external drives because it is compatible with various devices. With basic file security and support for files larger than 4 GB, NTFS is the best choice if you want to transfer large files. So, for example, if you want to put a movie on a USB drive for playback on a TV, you should use NTFS. In addition, NTFS allows you to set advanced permissions, which may help.

FAT32: FAT32 is an older file system dating back to Windows 95. It is compatible with the largest set of file types but cannot store anything over 4 GB. NTFS and FAT32 will eventually become fragmented, which means you need to defragment them from time to time.

If you are using a Mac, you will usually use APFS (Apple File System).
When macOS High Sierra was introduced, APFS became the default file system. It can run on all types of hard drives but is optimized for flash-based storage, including SSDs.From 1998 to 2017, OS Extended (HFS+) was used, but it has been replaced by APFS.

If you want to transfer files between Windows and Mac, use exFAT.
This file system is used for removable storage such as USB drives, SD cards, and other external hard drives. It will allow you to transfer files between different operating systems.

An External Hard Drive Compatible With Both Windows & a Mac
For users who use Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS at the same time, having an external hard drive compatible with both operating systems can be very beneficial. The problem with this is that by default, Windows and macOS use different formatting styles, which are not directly compatible with each other. Windows uses the NTFS (New Technology File System) format, while macOS uses HFS+ (Hierarchical File System Plus, which is the old format used by older versions of macOS) or APFS (Apple File System, which is the new format used by modern macOS versions).

Some third-party solutions can read data in Mac format on Windows and vice versa, but some solutions are expensive and may not provide 100% compatibility for all files. The best solution is to set up an external hard drive to make it compatible with Windows machines and Macs instead of buying one of these programs. In this way, you can create external hard drives for Macs and PCs that can run without any other software.

Understanding Formats
After formatting the hard drive, all the current data on the drive will be erased, and the new file system will be used in the computer’s operating system. The file system defines how the operating system manages data, how to store the data, and what type of storage blocks are used on the hard disk. The file system organizes data in a way that the operating system can access and use the required data. Therefore, if the operating system does not support the file system, the data cannot be actually accessed and read. In most cases, unless you specifically set your computer to display unsupported drives, drives containing unsupported file systems will not appear in Explorer or Finder.

This is why it is difficult to format Windows and Mac on the same hard drive. Assuming you are using a newer computer model and running modern versions of Windows and macOS, the file system used by the computer is not compatible. This is mainly due to the consideration of file system improvements made by specific operating systems, although competition between Microsoft and Apple may have played a role in the ownership nature of their operating system file systems. That being said, there are several ways to format a single external hard drive for Mac and PC use without losing data or damaging files.

How to Format for Mac and PC
Although Windows and macOS mainly use their file systems, they also support other file systems. In particular, both Windows and macOS support the exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) file system, which is commonly used for flash drives and other rewritable storage. This means that you can use an external hard drive and format it with the exFAT file system, and then it will be readable and writable on both Windows PC and Mac.

If you choose to do this, it is important to avoid changing the file system settings too frequently during formatting. By default, exFAT uses 32K and 128K data sets when reading and writing. When you select the format setting, you can change it to a maximum of 32GB per job. MacOS does not support exFAT cluster sizes exceeding 1024 KB, but if you increase the block size significantly, the drive can only be used with Windows PCs. In addition, if the drive is formatted on a macOS PC, some users have reported problems when reading exFAT drives on a Windows computer. Although not all users encounter this situation, to avoid potential problems, you may need to format the drive on a Windows PC instead of a Mac.

Dual Formatting
If you have specific needs for NTFS or APFS/HFS+, or just don’t want to format an external drive with exFAT, you can use another option. Instead of formatting the drive with a single file system, you can create two partitions on the drive and then format each partition with a different file system. This will reduce the amount of space available for Windows or Mac files but will ensure that you have storage space in the preferred format on your external drive, regardless of which computer you are using at the time. If you choose this path, make sure that there is enough space on the hard drive to make dual partitions useful. Starting from a 500GB hard drive, assuming that the partitions are equal, each partition can only provide 250GB of space. Unless you have very few storage needs, it is best to use a hard drive of at least 1 TB.

You can use the OS Disk Management tool to create two drive partitions from any computer to complete this operation. If there is any data currently on the drive, it should be backed up before partitioning, as it may be damaged or deleted during the process. Shrink the current volume and add a new partition on the free space, or create two partitions if the drive has not been formatted. (If there is already a partition but you want to start over, you can delete the current partition and treat the entire drive as free space.) After creating two partitions, use Mac to format one of APFS or HFS+, and use Windows PC to format the other partition in NTFS. Although the disk management software should be able to see other partitions when necessary, only each computer can access the partitions in the correct format.

Reformatting the Drive
If you decide not to use an exFAT drive or dual partition drive anymore, you can reformat the external drive for later use by Windows or macOS. If there are multiple partitions on the drive, you may delete them to avoid accidentally formatting one partition instead of the entire drive. Ensure to back up any files or programs from the drive, even if there is only one exFAT partition on the drive because reformatting will erase everything on the drive. Although there are multiple ways to recover files and data after formatting, they are not always 100% effective, and the data may be completely corrupted, damaged, or lost.

When reformatting the drive, the process is similar to the file system installation process that you used to format the drive earlier. Connect the drive to the computer you want to use and format it in the appropriate file system to meet your needs. On a Windows PC, this will be NTFS. On macOS, it will be APFS (HFS+ if you are using an older Mac.) Of course, if you want to migrate from a dual-partition drive to a single-partition drive, you can choose to use exFAT instead. If you want to retain the functionality of using the drive on Mac and Windows PC, make sure not to adjust the block size too much.