FAT/NTFS on a Macbook Pro?

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mrtricks(Posted 2007) [#1]
I've just installed Windows on my new Macbook Pro, and I formatted the partition as NTFS, but I'm wondering whether or not to do it again as FAT32, in order to be able to write to it from OSX. I have MacDrive on my PC partition, which can read and write my external hard drive but I thought it would recognise my main OSX partition as a D: drive and it doesn't, unfortunately.

Is there any real bad problems with FAT32? I know I can't go above 4GB with a single file, or above 32GB with the entire partition, but are there performance issues or anything?

xlsior(Posted 2007) [#2]
Is there any real bad problems with FAT32? I know I can't go above 4GB with a single file, or above 32GB with the entire partition, but are there performance issues or anything?

One major difference between Fat32 and NTFS under windows, is that you can't assign security permissions to a FAT32 drive (your files will always be accessible by all users). Another difference is that you can not use the built-in windows file compression unless it's an NTFS volume.

also, if you have many small files you'll waste significantly more diskspace on the drive when you use FAT32 -- under NTFS, the default cluster size is 4KB (but this can even be lowered if you deal mostly with smaller files). That means that each and every file (even a 0-byte one) actually takes up 4096 bytes of diskspace. Under FAT32, however, the cluster size can be significantly larger depending on the partition size:

If your partition is between 8 and 16GB, then the cluster size on a FAT32 disk is 8KB. If it's between 16 and 32GB then the cluster size is 16KB. Larger than that and it's 32KB.

(Note that you *can* use windows 2000/XP on a FAT partition larger than 32GB, but the catch is that the fdisk utility that comes with windows XP is artificially limited to 32GB in order to persuade people to use NTFS instead. but if you insist, you can still use partitions larger than 32 GB -- you'd need to use a windows 98 bootdisk and use it's fdisk to set up the larger partition first, and then you can install XP on the (now existing) larger partition.

As far as speed is concerned -- the benchmarks I've seen seem to indicate that in general there is very little speed difference between both of them...

But the bottom line is still that NTFS is a better format overall, which gives you some features that FAT32 does not, and wastes less diskspace space thanks to its smaller cluster size.

Since OS X apparently can read NTFS partitions but not write to them, that might be enough of an inconvenience to stick with FAT32 of course.

JetFireDX(Posted 2007) [#3]
You may want to look into MacFUSE and the NTFS3G driver for it... I have been using it for the last several releases with my NTFS formatted Bootcamp drive and WindowsXP Pro very successfully. Its not hard to setup (comes with a nice installer) seems to play nice with the OS X apps.

Only small issue I have had with it was copying a lot of files to the NTFS drive in which it gives some obscure error. Doing smaller numbers of files seems to fix this. I haven't had any file loss or corruption yet. (Your milage may vary...) It is certainly worth looking into.

Winni(Posted 2007) [#4]
Mediafourīs MacDrive will allow you to write to the OS X partition from Windows XP/Vista. You still wonīt be able to write to NTFS from OS X, but at least the doorīs open the other way īround.

JetFireDX(Posted 2007) [#5]
For copying files from my HFS+ Mac partitions to Windows under Bootcamp I use this: http://hem.bredband.net/catacombae/index2.html

Seems to work pretty well copying files off but it is unable to write to the Mac volumes. The price is right though and coupled with MacFUSE + NTFS3G filesystem I have been having no problems.

ragtag(Posted 2007) [#6]
You might want to consider to have a small (or not so small) fat partition that both systems can access. On my WinXP/Linux box, I have a 130gig FAT partition where most of my files are. These can be accessed by either OS. The same should work under boot camp on OS X.

Secondly, doesn't Parallels support booting the WinXP partition and copy files between the two environments....or am I just dreaming. :)

JetFireDX(Posted 2007) [#7]
Parallels does support dragging files back and forth from desktop to desktop. Kind of a pain if you only want to get a file or two over since you have to boot Windows up.

Also, the NTFS-3G has been updated (thanks to a new dev with no restrictions.) and works great again. Get the latest MacFUSE and NTFS-3G 1.91 from MacUpdate.com and you should be good to go for accessing everything from the Mac side at least.