How To Handle Apple’s Compatibility Issues With External Hard Drives?


At some point or the other in our lives, we have used both Windows and Mac and started realizing the difference between them. While for some this had happened at a very early stage of your life, for the vast majority, it happened when there were some work-related situations.

One of the major areas of concern occurred because most of us have one external hard disk with us. We use the same for our phone data, laptops, desktops, and other devices.

Problems arise because Windows OS and macOS are fundamentally opposite and do not support native file formats in different devices.

For example, Windows uses the New Technology File System or NTFS. Apple and macOS on the other hand, use the Apple File System, also known as the APFS or the Mac OS Extended, the HFS+.

In this article, we talk to experts from the tech and digital worlds and pose a very important question to them-

How can an individual make his or her external hard drive Apple compatible?

Why Formatting your External Hard Drive for Apple Compatibility can be tricky?

If you want to format your hard drive to make it compatible with macOS, the first issue, which you need to deal with is data loss. This is because, any formatting, whether it is from NTFS to APFS or HFS+ means that all your data is going to be lost.

The next tricky issue that users would have to deal with is the different versions of the operating systems. For example, some formats work in lower versions like Sierra but not have the same level of compatibility as Big Sur. 

Another recent issue with formatting external hard disks has emerged because of the new Apple Silicon M1 chips. It is true that some software, which used to perform flawlessly with the Intel chips earlier have reported non-compatibility issues.

Does any File Format work on both macOS and Windows OS at the same time?

The simple answer to this answer is Yes!

Both Windows and macOS are compatible with a specific form of file format called exFAT. The format exFAT stands for Extended File Allocation Table. This format is pretty common and is an advancement of a twenty-five-year-old technology, which started with FAT.

If you choose to take your existing external hard drive and format it in the exFAT format, it should run on both your Windows and Mac systems. However, according to the experts, care should be taken to ensure that the file settings are not tampered with.

Data is read and transferred in elements called ‘Data Clusters’. This is the element, which helps an operating system read and write data. exFAT works in clusters of 128KBs and 32KBs.

If you try to alter it, it might lead to corrupt files. You should also note that Apple’s macOS does not support more than 1024KBs. If you tamper and make it beyond that, your Mac system will not be able to read it.

Will Formatting Partitions on your External Hard Drive Work Efficiently?

Some tech experts have said that if you want to use the external hard disk for both macOS and Windows OS, one strategy, which we can use is Disk Partition.

For this to work, it would be ideal if you begin with an external hard disk, which has at least 1GB or 2GB of memory. This will ensure that you get half of that in each partition.

You need to use the Apple Settings to create the Partition Folders. You need to keep in mind that macOS will be able to create the APFS/HFS+ partition depending on what OS on your Mac and the Windows system will be able to create the NTFS partition.

Every time you plug in the hard disk to your Mac, you will see the APFS or HFS+ section. Likewise, if you plug it into your Windows OS, you will have access to only the NTFS partition.

However, what happens when you have to use the same data between macOS and Windows OS?

NTFS for Mac Software: Why should this be your first preference?

A simpler and far more convenient solution to the entire problem is to use an NTFS for Mac software. All you need to do is to download the software on your Mac system. Once you do that you will be able to use the same files and external hard disks on both macOS and Windows OS.

You can either choose an NTFS for Mac free software or go for a paid version. Depending on what your needs and requirements are, such software will allow you seamlessly work on both systems, operating systems, and with the same data and files.

With an NTFS for Mac software, you do not need to get involved with any technical bits. For people who do not want to get things too complicated, using such software ensures that your files are safe, uncorrupted, and easy to use across operating systems of Windows and macOS.