How To Partition Same External Hard Drives For Mac And PC Usage


03.10.2011

How To Partition Same External Hard Drives For Mac And PC Usage

If you decide to purchase an external hard drive for your Mac and realize that you might need it also for the Windows laptop there could be some partitioning issues that need to be solved. It is advised for you to take notice of the fact that you will have to format both Mac and the PC drives for the new device. Also, take in consideration that the process of formatting those two is totally different.

It is possible that you already know how to partition an external hard drive. Also, another possibility is that your hard drive to come with onboard software that will do the job for you. But, for those of you who don’t know how to do it, let’s explain a few steps that might help them.

When preparing to start the process of the partition it is advised to use an external hard drive with absolutely nothing on it or at least with files that aren’t so important. But if that isn’t possible and you already have some stuff on it, just copy that entire file on your computer. Another aspect that doesn’t have to be forgotten is that the drive must be plugged in if you want it to function. When saying that, I try to paraphrase the companies that make a usual habit of writing on their superhero outfits “cape does not enable wearer to fly”. For the beginners or for those who haven’t used this application before, search the “Utilities” folder into the Mac’ “Applications” and click on it. Try to find the “Disk Utility” option and if you are not able to find it, search for a hard drive that has a stethoscope on it. Once open, it will take you to a brand new window.

You will be able to see all the drives that are connected to your computer, on the left-side of this window. Besides the main hard drive or in some cases even more hard drives, that are located on the computer, you should be able to see also the external hard drive. The device will be notice in the middle of it all, somewhere.

Double-click to open the contextual menu of the hard drive. Other command that will open the menu is to press “Ctrl+click”. Once get there, make sure to select the “Unmount” option of the drive. That operation is very important in order that project to be a success.

A next step is to set up the partition. This can be done very quickly with the right knowledge. In general I tend to partition my hard drives in three partitions. The few tabs that you generally observe offer you a variety of options for your external hard drive. The most intuitive and easy to use is the one that says partition. This is the one to select for this job. After selecting it with your mouse or keyboard a menu will be shown that will show you the options needed to partition your hard drive. Among other options the most important in this case is the one labeled Volume Scheme.

Because we are partitioning and external hard drive to use for both MAC and PC I recommend setting the Volume Scheme up for two partitions. After doing this you will be shown two easy-to-use graphic images of simple boxes that represent the two partitions. In this feature important things like setting up how much memory each partition should have are shown and used.

Now let’s talk about the work out of the size and the formats required. Because I have a big hard drive of 1Tb I tend in general to give to the Mac OS around 950 GB and for the PC around 50 GB (yes, I am a Mac lover). Keeping this in mind you will be still open PC partition on the Mac if you desire to copy some files from there. The only thing I can’t do from the Mac on the PC partition is to add or remove some files. That is the reason I always make such a partition available.

After deciding on the size of each partition there is also the option to go back and chose the names for them. In general I recommend a good thinking before doing this because these partitions always need to be known for their purposes. I tend to give them names like “Mac HD” and “PC HD”. I also recommend changing the names of partitions after making the spread of size but it’s all up to you, both ways being ok.

A must do is always changing the writing format for your external hard drive. This needs to be done for each partition in conformation with what you want it to do. In order to do this, select the MAC OS Extended (Journaled) option for the MAC side of your external hard drive and if the partition is for PC enable the ExFAToption. When you are ready to begin just click on Apply and that’s about it! Very simple to do and at the same time you should be able to complete the project in minutes.

Last but not least let’s make some conclusions. The good part is that this process is a general one for other operating systems like Linux for example. I do think it can be used even for more “home made” operating systems to say so. Also a nice addition that I recommend useful would be to make two partitions for Mac in order to keep things organized.  The limitations offered by this method are very few and that’s why I strongly recommend using them.

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