External Hard-drive Formatting & Compatibility

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~For MAC/PC Compatibility~
ECUAD ANIM Techs recommend you format your external drive with the 'exFAT' file system - *using a PC

What is a file system?
A file system dictates the way information is written and read from a hard drive. Think of a file system like a language (or character set). Information stored inside a book written with Hebrew characters cannot be retrieved by a person that only reads Roman characters.
Mind Map


How-to FORMAT an external drive for MAC/PC Compatibility

ECUAD Techs recommend you format your external drive as 'exFAT' using a *PC
Formatting your drive will ERASE ALL DATA PERMANENTLY. Backup and save all important data on a different drive


  • Is the external drive visible in Explorer?
    • Yes
      • Right Click > select "Format"
      • Name Drive
      • Choose "exFAT" under "file system"
      • "Quick Format" is checked ON
      • Hit OK
    • NO
      • Speak to an animation technician! animtech@ecuad.ca


Alternatively, if you are using a MAC - you can format your external drive as "fat32".
This has some limitations, however. Files are limited to 4GB max.

  • Open System Preferences
  • Open "Disk Manager"
  • On the left find the drive you wish to format
  • Double-check you have the correct drive!
    • Check drive name
    • Check drive size
  • Find the tab labelled "erase"
  • Choose your file system (fat32)
  • Name your volume
  • Hit erase!

Common File Systems


Read/Write on MAC
Cannot read/write on PC without special software
    • read/write on PC /w MacDrive - $50
    • read on PC /w HFSExplorer - free
    • read/write on PC /w Paragon HFS+ - $20


Read/Write on PC (Windows 10/8/Vista/Xp)
Read on MAC - Cannot Write
    • 256TB max volume size
    • 16TB max file size


Read/Write on both Mac and PC
  • exFAT drive MUST be formatted on a PC
  • Drive formatted on exFAT on MAC will not read on PC
  • 128,000TB Max Volume size
  • 128,000TB max file size


Read/Write on both Mac and PC
  • Old file system used by Windows
  • 4TB max volume size
  • 4GB max file size