NTFS on a Mac

Seagate 500Gb USB Hard Drive

Seagate 500Gb USB Hard Drive

I recently bought a 500Gb external hard disc drive for the purpose of backing up my iTunes collection, which isn’t covered by TimeMachine.  I also hoped to use it with my Windows 7 laptop so I could take it away with me and have all my films to watch (albeit not in iTunes).

That being the case I opted for a mobile disc which doesn’t require power.  It’s been a long time since I bought one of these, and the last time I did the biggest you could get was 160Gb – now you can get 1Tb +.  I paid a little over the odds by shopping locally rather than ordering on line, because I wanted it quickly before I went away for a week skiing – I was hoping to take my films with me.

Without thinking I just plugged the disc into the Mac and started copying across everything from the disc which my iTunes is on, and downloaded an app to keep these two volumes in sync whenever I plugged the portable external disc in.  Super!

File System

What I had totally forgotten to consider was the file system which the disc would use.  MacOSX formatted the drive as HFS+ which is a system which isn’t readable in Windows 7.  So all the files I had copied (about 300Gb) were useless on my PC.

As most of the machines I encounter are generally PCs I decided I’d rather have the disk as NTFS.  However this is only readable on a Mac, you can’t write to it as standard.  A bit of research revealed various blogs (here & here) which suggested installing something called MacFUSE and then NTFS-3g.  However it seemed these were a bit of an “effort” by a Google employee and weren’t supported anymore and a little hard to get hold of.  Not really ideal to trust your data to.

The websites where NTFS-3G should have been in turn pointed me to Tuxera – a commercial offering. It is priced at a very reasonable €25 per person (IE if you have 3 macs you can install it on 3), but had a trial offering which was fully featured but time limited.  This is surely the best approach to trialware, as I like to check something really does work before paying for.  It does!

All I can see is that after a reboot (which the installer suggested might not actually be needed) this software works a treat and is very quick.  Can’t recommend it enough…  Tuxera NTFS For Mac.

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