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Mary Grimsley 11-24-2006 10:05 PM

Formatting an external hard drive for both Mac and PC
Hello SuperDupers,

I'm a happy SuperDuper user, and have just recommended it to a couple of family members for use with an external hard drive, which I plan to give them for Christmas as a gift to share. Actually, one of the family members would be using it for a PC (Windows), not a Mac, so I guess SuperDuper wouldn't be what he'd need, but she has an aluminum PowerBook running Tiger 10.4.8 and SuperDuper would be great for her.

I was thinking that the sharing thing with the external drive would be a trivial setup, based on my memory of the formats Disk Utility can do. Now I suspect that conclusion was incorrect, based on actually looking now at my copy of Disk Utility and its options with my own external drive and its two partitions. It appears that if I were to redo my own external drive I could indeed format it to MS Dos, but only by doing the entire hard drive that way--that it's not possible to reformat to MS DOS one of its partitions currently formatted to Mac OS Extended Journaled. So I'm not at all sure that they could share a drive by formatting half of it with Mac OS Extended Journaled and the other half with MS Dos format; I'm thinking now that I might need to buy two different drives, which would cost more money. I don't have a way to test how Disk Utility would work on a new drive that hasn't been formatted yet, so I don't know for sure that the partitioning options for different Mac vs. PC formats wouldn't be there, but that's the way it's looking right now. (Does anyone know the answer to this for sure?)

But assuming he'd be stuck with MS DOS for sure and the partitioning options I'd hoped for weren't available even for the first format, would she be able to work with her backups just as conveniently and seamlessly onto the MS DOS format on the external drive? And if that would work, would SuperDuper still work for her in using MS DOS on the backup external drive too? Without a bunch of extra DOS resource files to have to navigate through in looking for data to drag back onto the Mac when a retrieval was necessary? That is, would it work on the practical level if I tell them to format a single new drive to MS DOS, since I'm assuming now it's impossible to format only _some_ of the partitions to Mac OS Extended?

I'd like to go with a single backup drive, if possible, but would opt for two smaller external drives if nothing else is practical or convenient. If I go with a gift of two drives, then she'd format with Disk Utility and he'd probably use the drive formatter built into Windows XP. (I'm assuming he could find out how to use that formatter to create multiple partitions. Or perhaps he'd want to buy and use Partition Magic.) A solution that requires using different formatting software than Disk Utility for the Mac isn't a solution I'm looking for.

They are both likely to upgrade systems son after Leopard and Vista come out, but I'm assuming that this probably doesn't matter unless, perhaps, Partition Magic won't be ready for the new Vista system for awhile.

Is there something I'm missing here in figuring out the options?

Thanks for any help,

dnanian 11-24-2006 10:27 PM

Well, to share a drive you'd have to partition with "MBR", and that wouldn't support startup on Macs. Would that be OK?

Mary Grimsley 11-25-2006 03:12 AM


Originally Posted by dnanian (Post 9531)
Well, to share a drive you'd have to partition with "MBR", and that wouldn't support startup on Macs. Would that be OK?

Hi Dave,

Thanks so much for your quick reply. No, MBR wouldn't do; a major reason to buy the external drive is to have something for an emergency startup for them both.

Your reply got me busy searching for the prices on smaller drives. I was surprised and delighted to find two 300 GB drives at NewEgg for approximately the cost of the same drive in the 400 GB size from the place where I was going to buy the 400 GB! I've already ordered two now. (This is the same Seagate external that has served me well and has worked well with SuperDuper!) This solution will provide more storage space--something I'd assumed wouldn't be possible in having to buy two drives--and is better all around.

The drives will come with some free backup software, though that backup software didn't work well for me and I expect the Mac will end up with SuperDuper!. In case he doesn't like the PC software that comes with the new drive, would you happen to know of PC software that's easy and intuitive for external backup and that would also work for creating a startup system on the external?

Dave, thanks again for your help and especially for your Super Duper!

Best wishes, Mary

dnanian 11-25-2006 10:00 AM

Nothing that comes to mind, Mary, alas -- I'm just not close enough to PC Software at this point to be able to direct you to an appropriate tool.

But -- yes, I think you're much better off with two drives.

Mary Grimsley 11-25-2006 03:38 PM


Originally Posted by dnanian (Post 9537)
Nothing that comes to mind, Mary, alas

Thanks anyway, Dave. I'm enjoying reading all your replies to users on the forum, by the way. Pretty good support, I'd say!

Best wishes, Mary

dnanian 11-25-2006 03:40 PM

Ack, don't read all of them. From what I can see, I've posted 4,408 messages (4,409 now) here. That's a lot of stuff to read!

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