When we have been using a Mac, either portable or desktop, and we move to the PC are many changes that we have to face. One of them is the file system, which uses a different format for the partitioning of the disks and that, often, can not recognize the storage capacity of the disk. That’s why we are going to review the change from Mac to PC and we will see how you have to format your external disk to forget about the problems.
In many cases we have used the external hard drive to back up the system with Time Machine, so it is most likely that it is formatted to use the HFS + file system, which when connected to the laptop or the desktop computer does not he will recognize it or he will do it as an empty disk. The formatting is something really simple and will allow us to give our external disk a utility and take advantage of its full capacity. Let’s see how.
Format an external disk from Windows systems
In Microsoft operating systems there is a utility to control the status of the storage and see its configuration . For this we have to go to My Team and click with the right button selecting the option Manage . If you do not find this option you can always go to the Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management and we come to the same panel where we can see the disks that we have connected to the computer at that moment.
Then we choose the option Storage and Disk Management that will show us the status of all the disks connected at that moment to the computer, both internal and external. Each one of them shows us their partitions since, in many cases, they can have several, as is the case of the recovery partition that usually includes computers with Windows and that allows to recover the system to the factory values in case of a serious problem or that users want.
If the external disk used the file system of Mac OS or Time Machine, Windows does not identify this storage space as useful or busy, so we have to change the file system to be able to use it on a PC . This will imply that all the information that the disk has will be deleted, something that we must take into account if we want to save data. To perform the formatting, the only thing we need is to place ourselves on the disk, press the right mouse button and choose the format option.
Which file format interests me the most?
Here we will offer to format the disk in FAT 32 or NTFS and we have to choose the most suitable file system for us. FAT 32 is the most commonly used system for USB flash memory drives . It has the limitation that the maximum size of files it supports is 4GB, so if what we need is a disc to save the videos in 4K quality that we recorded with the camera, another type of format might be better, since it does not it is rare that we have files that exceed this amount of space.
NTFS is the most used system for external hard drives and does not have this limitation of file size, so it is recommended for those units that are going to move large files. It will also allow us to use file encryption options or a more complete permission system than FAT32, which is still a file system inherited from older versions of Windows.
We can also assign the size to the unit, which allows us to make several partitions on the disk if we are interested, for example, to have a system boot partition from an external disk. At the same time we can name the volume label, so that it allows us to see at a glance which disk we have connected to our computer through the USB port and how much does data recovery cost?
To finish we have to choose if we perform a fast or slow format . In the second case, the format checks the sectors of the external hard disk and analyzes if there is any defective to mark it as unusable. This option is the most recommended for the oldest hard drives. Once the process is finished we have our external hard disk formatted and perfectly useful to use it in our new Windows computer.