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View Full Version : Should I format a new Western Digital Passport hard drive?


sweetlight
11-11-2008, 12:17 AM
Hey there. Newbie to the forum here. Many thanks in advance for any help.

I'm a photographer, working on an Intel MBPro, OSx 10.4.11
I just purchased a 250 gb Western Digital Passport hard drive. I regularly transfer folders of images, delete images, copy, and replace various files or folders.

The drive comes formatted FAT32, but I noticed the WD portable aimed for Mac users comes formatted HFS, I think. (I have no idea what any of this actually means, just that FAT32 can be used on both Mac & PC.) This particular drive will likely only be used on this machine (or, at most, another mac). So, my first question is, should I change the formatting to HFS? I have also read that FAT32 format has a 4 gb file limit.... does that apply to a folder, or just an individual file? My image files are certainly under 4 gb, but often folders of images are not. I was just not sure if a folder is considered a file...?

Second question... In disk utility, is "format" actually the "erase" tab? In Disk Utility the drive shows up as 2 drive icons. (I'm guessing this is partitioning...?) Which should I format? The top icon is listed as "WD2500BEV External Media" (and shows format as "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)"). The second, nested icon is the simpler "My Passport" that shows in a Finder window. This is the version that's listed as "MS-DOS file system" format.

Lastly, if I should format, do I use the first, "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" choice? Which Security Option should I use?

I'm sure a few of these questions are extremely elementary... apologies if they are glaringly so. I'm defintiely not going to work at a Genuis Bar anytime soon. But I do send profuse thanks for any help and answers!

solipsism
11-11-2008, 02:32 AM
You are correct that the max file size for FAT32 is 4GB, and that pertains to the files, not the overall folder size.

If you are not going to use it on a PC then I would partition the drive as non-case sensitive Mac OS Extended (Journaled), which is also known as HFS+. There are just too many benefits of using the much newer HFS+ over FAT32 if you aren't going to connect the drive to a Windows-based system.

PS: Since you are photographer, I hope this external drive is not your only copy for your data. You might want to consider getting a larger drive for your MBP and using an external drive for Time Machine. Internal notebook drives are now up to 500GB @ 5400RPM with 320GB @ 7200RPM.

mclbruce
11-11-2008, 07:34 AM
If you are using the drive exclusively with a Mac, you should reformat.
Use Partition in Disk Utility for good results.
Make one partition, the size of the whole drive, and specify Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

trevor
11-11-2008, 12:02 PM
I agree with solipsism and mclbruce, but I'd even go a step farther. FAT32 is an old and delicate filesystem that is completely inadequate for today's hard drives. It is inefficient and has stupid limitations (the 4 GB minus 1 byte file size maximum is just one of it's stupid limitations).

Even if your are using the drive with some Windows computers, I would still advise you to reformat. Almost anything is better than FAT32.

HFS+ (Journaled) is a pretty good filesystem, and if you're using this primarily with a Mac, it's the best choice. Even if this drive is occasionally used with Windows PCs, you can install MacDrive on the Windows boxes to allow them to read from the drive.

For those people (not sweetlight) who use an external drive primarily with Windows PCs and occasionally on a Mac, the NTFS filesystem is far superior to FAT32, and can be read from Macs. For full read/write support for NTFS on the Mac, install MacFUSE.

Trevor

sweetlight
11-11-2008, 12:46 PM
Thanks so much for all the help, everyone! Drive has been formatted HFS+, and is working great. Much obliged.

Solipsism, I am careful about backing up. It's business and client work, so it's essential. I do, however, definitely need to get a larger HD installed in the MBPro. Do you know the typical cost & time required to have that done? Will they do the transfer of old files for me?

Thanks again to all.

projectchakra
11-11-2008, 09:15 PM
If you are using the drive exclusively with a Mac, you should reformat.
Use Partition in Disk Utility for good results.
Make one partition, the size of the whole drive, and specify Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

Is making it one partition the same as erasing and choosing the format? Or should one take the extra step of partitioning it specifically the size of the whole drive?

mclbruce
11-12-2008, 12:40 AM
Is making it one partition the same as erasing and choosing the format? Or should one take the extra step of partitioning it specifically the size of the whole drive?It could be superstition, but I think re-partitioning does a bit more than erasing. It seems to take longer in Disk Utility. I know that with digital camera memory cards, "erase all" and "format" do different things.