Friday, June 23, 2017

This Trick Makes a USB Drive Work Perfectly With Windows, Mac, Linux, and Anything Else

By  Mihir Patkar 

A file system is the magic tool that lets an operating system read the data on any hard drive or USB drive. Unfortunately, there are a number of file systems out there, and not every operating system plays nice with each one. That’s why the default recommended choice is FAT32. But there’s a better choice: exFAT.
File systems are an unnecessary complication, but they aren’t going anywhere for now. For example, Apple computers use HFS+ (i.e. Mac OS Extended) file system by default, while Windows uses NTFS (New Technology File System). Unsure what’s behind your system? Here’s an easy way to find out!What A File System Is & How You Can Find Out What Runs On Your Drives What A File System Is & How You Can Find Out What Runs On Your DrivesREAD MORE
But for the sake of this article, we are focusing on FAT32 and exFAT, the two best file systems for external hard drives and USB drives.

What Makes FAT32 and exFAT Better Than Others?

If you have ever formatted a hard drive as NTFS, you know that there is a lot of trouble in getting it to work with Mac and Linux. While macOS recognizes and reads NTFS drives, it can’t write to them. Linux needs to be prepped to read NTFS as it doesn’t support the file system by default. In short, NTFS works flawlessly with Windows and not much else. Similarly, Mac OS Extended drives work flawlessly with macOS and not much else.
fat32 exfat ntfs windows
However, FAT32 and exFAT work with all operating systems by default. FAT (File Allocation Table) is the oldest of these file systems, and is hence recognized by every operating system. For personal computers, the first one used was FAT12, followed by FAT16, and then the current FAT32. Then came exFAT, made with USB drives and external drives in mind.
In short, the primary hard drive of your operating system should be the one that best matches the operating system. But your external hard drives and USB drives should use FAT32 or exFAT.

FAT32 vs. exFAT

Usually when you go to format a USB drive, Windows will suggest FAT32 as the default file system. But you might want to consider using exFAT instead.

Devices Supported

FAT32 is the most widely compatible file system. It will work on any operating system as well as video game consoles, Android USB expansions, media players, and other devices.Get Extra Storage On Android With A USB Flash Drive Get Extra Storage On Android With A USB Flash DriveWant to add more storage to your Android device using a USB flash drive? We can show you how to do that, step by step.READ MORE
fat32 exfat devices supported
In contrast, exFAT will work on 99 percent of the devices you use, but may not work on some media players and Android devices. Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 support exFAT drives, but for some reason, Xbox One often faces issues with exFAT USB drives formatted on a Mac.
Some Linux distros also don’t support exFAT out of the box. You will need to install the package for that by opening a Terminal window and typing:
sudo apt-get install exfat-utils exfat-fuse
Once that’s done, type:
sudo apt-get update

Sizes Supported

FAT32 can only support files up to 4 GB in size and can only be used as the file system on hard drives that are 8 TB or less. If all your files are smaller than 4 GB, then FAT32’s excellent device support makes it a better choice. If you have ever seen the dialog box saying “Your file is too large for the destination,” ditch FAT32.
fat32 exfat 8 gb drive
In contrast, exFAT has no limitations on file sizes or hard drive sizes. This makes exFAT the best choice if you are going to use a portable drive that stores large files (like unedited videos or 3D projects) and is connected to different computers.

Speed: Which Is Faster?

Generally speaking, exFAT drives are faster at writing and reading data than FAT32 drives. You’ll find plenty of benchmarks online, but Flexense has the most thorough comparison.
fat32 exfat speed
Apart from writing large files to the USB drive, exFAT outperformed FAT32 in all tests. And in the large file test, it was almost the same.
Note: All benchmarks show that NTFS is much faster than exFAT.
The bottom line is that unless you are 100 percent sure that you will never have a file smaller than 4 GB, format the drive as exFAT. Remember, the file system you use while formatting is what you’ll continue to use for a long time, so it’s sensible to make the right decision at the start.

How to Format a USB Drive to exFAT

Any USB drive or external hard drive can easily be formatted as exFAT instead of FAT32.
For Windows
  1. Open This PC in File Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the USB drive and choose Format from the shell menu.
  3. Choose exFAT in file system.
Here’s a full guide with screenshots.How To Format A USB Drive & Why You Would Need To How To Format A USB Drive & Why You Would Need ToFormatting a USB drive is no different than formatting any other drive. But how often have you actually formatted a drive and did you ever wonder what the various options mean?READ MORE
fat32 exfat format mac
For macOS
  1. Open Spotlight (Command + Space) and run Disk Utility.
  2. Choose the USB drive in the menu on the left.
  3. Click Erase and choose exFAT in Format.
Here’s a full guide with screenshots.Preparing An External Hard Drive For Use With Mac OS X Preparing An External Hard Drive For Use With Mac OS XIf you've just purchased a new external hard drive for your Mac, it's important to take the time to prepare your hard drive for use with Mac OS X.READ MORE
For Linux
  1. Open a Terminal window.
  2. Type sudo apt-get install exfat-utils exfat-fuse and press Enter.
  3. Type sudo fdisk -l and press Enter.
  4. Note the address of your external drive. It should read as /dev/sd** (where the last two asterisk are a letter and a number).
  5. Type sudo mkfs.exfat -n NAME /dev/sd** where you replace sd** with the address you noted earlier and NAME with whatever you want to label your drive.

NTFS vs. exFAT vs. FAT32

As fantastic as exFAT is, don’t forget that NTFS is better in all aspects if you are only using the USB drive on Windows computers. But that’s not the norm any more, is it?
Which file system do you use on your USB drive? Have you ever faced the “File is too large for the destination file system” error?

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