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ExFAT works freely with both Macs and Windows PC. Plug an ExFAT drive into your Mac and you Mac can see all the files on it. Read and write document to the drive. And you can do the same on a Windows PC. You can find out how to format an external hard drive to ExFAT in my document here. Can I use LaCie Fuel as an external hard drive across both my Mac and PC? The LaCie Fuel is formatted as exFAT which is accessible on both a Mac and a PC. You may reformat it in MacOS to HFS+ format by following the instructions at Can I reformat LaCie Fuel to a MacOS Extended (HFS+) file system? An External Hard Drive Compatible With Both Windows & a Mac. If you jump from Windows and Mac computers in your day-to-day routine, you might want an external hard drive that can do the same.

Sep 14, 2021 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

An external hard drive is just a storage device that is connected to your computer on the outside. Standard Hard drives draw power from their data source cable, which comes from the system itself. Some advanced disks may require an AC connection to derive power on their own. These storage devices come in varying storage capacities, but they all connect to a computer either by USB, eSATA, or wirelessly.

Plug and play functionality offers system compatibility and offers extensive storage options and portable design for the consumer. These memory devices are compatible with both Mac and Windows PC. These disks provide capacities ranged from 250 GB to 10 TB.

Compatibility issues between Windows and MacOS may have reduced over the years, but that doesn't mean they've been completely wiped out. Sharing files from Windows to Mac is a demoralizing task, but in this article, we will discuss how to overcome such issues as there are various methods to do such that. Also, the external hard drive file recovery will be mentioned.

Part 1. Situations Where to Share External Drive Between Mac and Windows

Many MacOS and Windows users today find themselves in mixed platform offices, where they need to share files and work on them. Sharing stuff between PCs and Macs is not as nearly simple as it should be. There are different ways for your computer systems to talk to each other and share files. The main problem occurs because each operating system supports a different set of data sharing protocol, think of them as different computer languages. We will discuss some of them in this section:

  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): It is one of the well-known data sharing systems. If you've ever spent any time on the internet, then you know that FTP is one of the most convenient options for sharing stuff between your Mac and PC.
  • NFS (Network File System): It is a file-sharing protocol that the Unix-based systems like to use for sharing files, which both Windows and Macs can understand. It is more popular on the Windows PC side of the fence.
  • AFP (Apple Filing Protocol): It is only designed for MacOS. Windows do not understand it. But from Mac-to-Mac, it's what makes sharing extremely easy. The problem occurs when you intend to use an AFP disk drive on a Windows PC.

Fortunately, there are many methods to fix such a problem. One of it is that you can perform 'partition' on your computer's primary hard drive. You can divide the HDD of your Windows PC into different sections with different rules, storage space, and functions.

You can also perform a partition on the main drive of Mac so that part of it works during the file-sharing process. Both Windows and Mac have the essential tools to help in performing partition for your External hard drives. Here we will discuss how to do disk partition on Mac and Windows computers.

Part 2. Formatting an External Hard Disk Drive From a Mac:

To put in simple words, if you want to share the external hard drive between Macintosh and Windows PC, you need to format an external hard drive for the respective system.

Hard drives for Windows PC are formatted with NTFS by default, while hard disks for Mac are formatted with HFS+. However, when we connect an NTFS formatted disk to Mac, Mac OS X doesn't support it and would not allow you to write files to the drive. It also disables the ability to edit the pre-existing data in the drive. MacOS offers the user to read an NTFS drive. Windows OS will similarly ask you to format the HFS+ formatted drive when you connect such a disk to its PC. Creating a partition on the disk is the best option. Follow the step-by-step guide to partition the drive on a Mac.

  • Open Disk Utility on your Mac. Select the icon of Disk Utility by searching for it in Search in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Locate and select the hard drive you want to partition.
  • Select the Partition option.
  • If you intend to format the entire drive, then you can perform the procedure by clicking on Erase.
  • Select the Erase Free Space option to format the disk.
  • Specify the number of partitions on the external hard drive you want to create by entering the information in the partition column.
  • Enter the name and size of each newly formed partition of the drive. Please specify the details to proceed further.
  • It is recommended that you set the drive into two parts, one partition dedicated to the Mac and other for the Windows PC.
  • Select the format for the Mac portion as MacOS Extended (Journaled).
  • Select the Windows part as ExFAT. This format allows the drive to store a large amount of data.

It is recommended that you select the default option of GUID Partition. It is usually optimal with an external hard drive, as long as you don't intend to create a bootable drive out of it to install an operating system.

  • Once you are done with all of the methods mentioned above, click on Apply.
  • A warning pop-up will appear, click on Partition.

The partition process of your external hard disk drive on the Mac will finish. You will able to check exFAT format by plugging the drive onto a Windows PC nearby.

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Part 3. Formatting an External Hard Disk Drive From a Windows PC:

Partitioning is an act of splitting a drive into pieces, and it is important to set at least one partition to store data and a pre-set-up folder.

There are many reasons why one would want to create a partition on their external drive. You should save some of the space for general file storage; data that you might need later, and the other to store backups of your most important files. You also may want an encrypted portion of a drive for private files. You may even want to put your media files like videos in one partition and photos and documents in another to speed up searches.

You can also create a bootable portion of the drive to install a different operating system on computers; you'll need to partition part of a drive for the OS. Formatting and creating a partition on an external hard drive is complicated in the Windows operating system. In this section, we will learn how to format an external HDD from a Windows computer.

  • Click on the Start menu to open Windows Disk Management.
  • Type diskmgmt.msc in the search bar.
  • Click on Create and Format Hard disk partitions.
  • Disk Management window will appear.
  • Click on Disk 1.
  • Format the drive if you haven't already. Formatting the disk is essential before partitioning it.
  • Right-click on Disk 1 option.
  • Click on Format.
  • Click on Initialize Disk.
  • A new window will open, asking you to select a partition style for your disk.
  • Select the GPT format; it is supported by all the external hard disk drives.
  • Click on OK.
  • You will notice a drive listed as unallocated.
  • Right-click on the unallocated drive and click on New Simple Volume. It will initiate the New Simple Volume Wizard.
  • Click on Next.
  • Specify the size and name of the Volume.
  • Select exFAT as the file system.
  • Create this partition in conjunction with the Mac device you want to use the drive on.
  • Click on Next.
  • Click on Finish.
  • Repeat the process and set the file system for the other volume as NTFS, to use the drive in conjunction with the Windows PC.

By following the methods above, creating partitions on the external hard disk will now seem pretty straightforward. You know how to set up the drive on any operating system, and it will take just a little bit of time.

Part 4. How to Recover Data from a Formatted Hard Drive?

The hard drive is a complex piece of storage device, and, commonly, even a slight bit of negligence can lead to loss of essential data. You should not save any new information on the formatted hard drive, or it will be completely overwritten.

  • Reasons Why Data get Erased on a Portable Hard Drive:

In this section, we will discuss some of the factors why your data can get deleted. Some of those reasons are mentioned below:

  • The Virus can enter the Hard drive when you insert it into some virus infected computer.
  • Neglecting any sort warnings after inserting the drive on to the system
  • Not properly removing the storage device from the computer.
  • Preparations before data recovery:

Before starting the recovery process, you should follow the necessary precautions listed below to avoid any inconvenience:

  • You need to Plug your External hard disk drive with the computer.
  • Directly Insert the drive in the USB port on your computer.
  • Do not remove the external hard disk from the computer, during the recovery scan.
  • Maintain the Backup of essential media before the recovery procedure.

You can recover your data by using data recovering software like Recoverit Data Recovery by Wondershare. The tool provides a high recovery rate of 96%. It allows you to connect almost every type of portable devices like the memory card or USB and recovers data from them.

It recovers documents and photos from all type of file formats which includes: Docx, pages, JPEG, PNG, GIF, Avi, MP3, MPEG exFAT, FAT, HFS, NTFS, and much more. Follow our step-by-step guide for the solution to your Data recovery problem.

1. Select the Location of the External Drive:

After launching the Recoverit Mac data recovery software, follow these steps:

  • Select the 'External Drive Location' where data was deleted or lost.
  • Click the 'Start' button to initiate the process.

2. Scanning for Lost Data:

  • Data scanning will start in Recoverit.
  • A scan completion pop up will appear on the screen.
  • The scanning time depends a lot on the size of your Hard drive. The larger the file, the longer the time it will take to finish the scan.

3. Recover the Lost Data:

  • The recovered files will be sorted by the File Path and File Type on the Recoverit window.
  • Select the file you want to view and hit the Preview button
  • Click on the 'Recover' button after checking the authenticity of the data.

Part 5. How to Encrypt your External Hard Drive:

In this day and age, data protection is essential. It is necessary to encrypt your portable storage devices to ensure safety. It will prevent individuals to hack into your files. In this section, we will discuss how to protect your drives and folders on both MacOS and Windows PC.

  • Encryption on MacOS:
  • Press Command + Shift + A to open the Applications folder on your Mac.
  • Open Utilities.
  • Click on Disk Utility.
  • Click on View.
  • Click on Show all Devices.
  • Select the External Drive that you want to encrypt.
  • Click on Erase.
  • Choose the GUID Partition Map and Format the drive.
  • Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) as the encrypted file format. You can also change to a Windows supported format like exFAT.
  • Enter and verify a password.
  • Click on Choose.
  • Click on OK.
  • Your drive will be Encrypted.
  • Encryption on Windows PC:

Encrypting a file or drive on a Windows PC is simple. Follow the steps below to enable the option:

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  • Click on This PC.
  • Right-Click on the drive that you want to encrypt.
  • Click on Turn on BitLocker.

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  • Check the option ' Use a Password to Unlock the Drive.'
  • Enter and verify your password.
  • Click on Next.
  • Save the password to your Microsoft Account or a USB.
  • Click on Next.
  • Choose Encrypt Entire Drive.
  • Choose New Encryption Mode and click on Next.
  • Click on Start Encrypting

Closing Words:

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Having to share and edit different files across several platforms can be unavoidable in some situations. That is the case when you need to open an external hard drive on your Mac or Windows PC. This article will help you in dealing with this kind of issue. It is essential to create a back up for your files and save the data before performing the partition and formatting the external disk. You can freely use the method for both the MacOS and Windows OS. If in any case, your data is formatted or lost, then you can quickly recover the formatted disk data by using Recoverit Recovery Software. It guarantees hassle-free data recovery in no time.

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