Windows Versus Mac OS Hard Drive Formats 101

Windows Versus Mac OS Hard Drive Formats 101

- By Nathan Riley -

Working back and forth between Windows and Mac OS can be confusing, especially when trying to format drives. But but with some basic info, you can get a whole lot more use from a single hard drive on one computer.

Hard drives can be used with multiple OS.

What does it mean to format a hard drive?

Formatting a hard drive essentially deletes whatever is on a hard drive, often times to change the drive’s compatibility with different devices (Windows vs Mac, etc.)

Do you need to install special programs to format a hard drive?

No, Windows and Mac OS have built in tools that allow formatting.

What is a hard drive format that is exclusive to Windows?

NTFS format is the default Windows format that Mac OS generally does not play well with.

What is a hard drive format that is exclusive to Mac?

HFS+ is a format used by Mac OS that does not play well with Windows. Newer Apple computers also use a format called APFS.

What is the most compatible format for use with both operating systems?

FAT 32 is the most universal format that is friendly to both Windows and Mac OS.

Can the different operating systems read “incompatible” formats somehow?

Yes, there are ways to use special tools and advanced user techniques to read data from formats that do not play well on the operating system in use. (“So you’re saying it’s possible?!”)

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