Monday, August 24, 2009

NTFS for Mac OS X

The other day, I got myself an external hard drive, Western Digital 320 GB Essential. My search for one was initially based on price, rather than features, mainly because I was assured that most pre-packaged external hard drives are plug & play devices.

I wanted to try out CD-R King's PQI external hard drives, but the branches I went too didn't have it in stock, and it never occurred to me to try inquiring online. I got my hard drive from Octagon at SM Marikina.

The original reason for the drive was so that I could finally get my files off the office computer. I had nearly three years worth of personal stuff there, and burning them on DVDs wasn't enough. I do have an online storage, 100 GB from Humyo, but I didn't feel 100% secure with it. So, external hard drive.

Transferring files from the office PC to the WD Essentials was easy. In less than two hours, I had all my files transferred. When I got home, I plugged the hard drive to my MacBook, started transferring files... and got the error that this file can't be moved to the hard drive because of some permission error.


Since I didn't understand what it was, and I didn't have many friends who used OS X, I decided to search for some answers. Thanks to this article from MyFirstMac, I finally got it.

To make the long story short, it all goes back to the file format each operating system uses. Windows makes use of FAT32 or NTFS, while Max OS X uses HFS+, or Mac OS Extended. Mac can handle FAT32, but not NTFS. The result would be is exactly what I had: I can view my files, but I can't put new files into the hard drive.

There are two best ways to go around this. Reformatting the hard drive to FAT32 is not an option for me, as I had already 80 GB of files from my Windows XP machine.

First option was to use a program called NTFS for Mac by Paragon. The reviews of it are very good, so I was eager to try. Downside? Cost. It's US$ 30, probably reasonable, but something I can't afford to shell out.

Second option: use an open source program. My searching suggested using NTFS-3G, a driver that makes use of MacFUSE, a program that allows users to extend the capabilities of Mac OS X to run various third-party applications. Downside? According again to reviews/user feedback, transfer rate (especially if you use USB and not Firewire) is slower than usual. Upside? It's open-source, therefore free. Plus, users of other operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenSolaris, etc., can use this to read off NTFS files.

I tried it, and it works great. I can now transfer files from my MacBook to the external hard drive without difficulties. Just check out the links above. Enjoy!

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