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The Best Format for an External HDD to Use Across MacOs, Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux in 2019

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In the age of cross-platform compatibility, it is crucial to have an external hard drive (HDD) that works seamlessly across different operating systems. Whether you’re a developer, a digital nomad, or just a tech-savvy individual, you might find yourself switching between MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux. In such cases, the format of your external HDD becomes significant. This article will guide you through the best format for your external HDD to ensure smooth operation across these three popular operating systems in 2019.

Quick Answer

The best format for an external HDD to use across MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux in 2019 is exFAT. It is natively supported on all three operating systems, allowing for seamless data transfer without the need for additional drivers or software.

Understanding File Systems

Before we delve into the best format, let’s quickly understand what a file system is. A file system controls how data is stored and retrieved. It helps organize the drive by specifying how data should be stored on the disk. Some common file systems include NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, HFS+, and ext4.

The Best Format: exFAT

After evaluating various file systems, the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) emerges as the best format for an external HDD to be used across MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux. Introduced by Microsoft, exFAT is a file system that is optimized for flash memory such as USB flash drives and SD cards.

Why exFAT?

The exFAT file system is supported natively on MacOS, Windows, and Linux, which means you can read and write files without the need for additional drivers or software. It also supports large file sizes and volumes, making it suitable for a 2TB external drive or even larger.

Unlike NTFS, which has limited compatibility with MacOS and requires third-party drivers for write operations, exFAT ensures seamless data transfer across all three operating systems.

However, it’s worth noting that exFAT does not support journaling, a feature that helps recover data in case of unexpected power loss or system crashes. But for an external HDD, this is generally not a significant concern.

Formatting Your External HDD as exFAT

To format your external HDD as exFAT, you can use the built-in disk management tools on each operating system. Remember to back up any important data on your external HDD before formatting, as the process will erase all existing files.

MacOS

  1. Open Disk Utility, which can be found in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder.
  2. Select your external HDD from the sidebar.
  3. Click on the “Erase” tab.
  4. Choose “exFAT” as the format.
  5. Click “Erase.”

Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer and navigate to “This PC.”
  2. Right-click on your external HDD and select “Format.”
  3. Choose “exFAT” as the file system.
  4. Click “Start.”

Ubuntu Linux

  1. Open the Disks utility, which can be found in the Dash.
  2. Select your external HDD from the list of devices.
  3. Click on the gear icon and choose “Format Partition.”
  4. Select “exFAT” as the file system.
  5. Click “Format.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, for the best compatibility and ease of use across MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux in 2019, formatting your external HDD as exFAT is recommended. This format allows you to read and write files on all three operating systems without the need for additional drivers. However, always remember to back up your data before reformatting your drive. Happy computing!

Can I use a different file system format for my external HDD to achieve cross-platform compatibility?

While there are other file system formats available, exFAT is the recommended format for achieving seamless cross-platform compatibility between MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux.

What is the maximum file size and volume that exFAT supports?

exFAT supports large file sizes and volumes, making it suitable for a 2TB external drive or even larger.

Does exFAT support journaling?

No, exFAT does not support journaling. However, for an external HDD, this is generally not a significant concern.

Can I format my external HDD as exFAT using the built-in tools on each operating system?

Yes, you can format your external HDD as exFAT using the built-in disk management tools on MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux. Just be sure to back up any important data before formatting, as the process will erase all existing files.

Is there any additional software or drivers required to read and write files on an exFAT-formatted external HDD?

No, exFAT is supported natively on MacOS, Windows, and Linux, which means you can read and write files without the need for additional drivers or software.

Are there any other file system formats that offer cross-platform compatibility?

While there are other file system formats that offer cross-platform compatibility to some extent, exFAT is the most widely supported and recommended format for seamless operation across MacOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu Linux.

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