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Is it possible to transfer files from one external hard drive to another if they are for different OS's?

SpaceGhost92

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I have an external hard drive for a Mac with some files I want to transfer onto my external hard drive for Windows. The information itself isn't OS specific, just the hard drives themselves. Both are Western Digital if that makes any difference.
 

jdcranke07

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Only if the files were created in a program that both OS's can use. Like MS Office applications for instance. And only if the hard drive you are transferring from was in exFat format. The windows drive can be in exFat or NTFS and it will be fine.
 

SpaceGhost92

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I have multiple movies on the hard drive and was just wanting to transfer them to the Windows hard drive. Still a no go?
I tried doing it on my Mac and I can only read the Windows files, not transfer from one hard drive or the other. When I try on my PC I can't get the Mac hard drive to show up. I'm essentially between a rock and a hard place haha.
 

jdcranke07

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That's because the Mac drive is not in exfat format and can't be read by the windows OS. Due to this you cannot just simply move the movies over. You would have to put them on the mac computer>convert them to an MP4 or another suffix windows can read and save them to the windows drive from there.
 

Be careful with that. The free version is a build which contains a bug which can corrupt your HFS disk. It's been fixed in the pay version (which is a newer build), but for whatever reason they're not updating the free version.

OS X can read/write HFS and exFAT
OS X can read NTFS but not write to it.
Windows can read/write NTFS and exFAT
Windows cannot read nor write HFS

So to reliably transfer files, you need to format an external drive/flash drive as exFAT. I've heard it tends to work better if you format it as exFAT from Windows, then plug it into the Mac.


MP4 is a container. It holds a video file (usually in MPEG4 format) and an audio file. It also supports additional features like chapters, subtitles, images. Different container files (MP4, WMV, MKV, AVI, etc) do the same thing, and mostly differ in what additional features they support.

Because containers can hold video in different formats, movie players pretty much ignore the extension and figure out for themselves what format the video and audio is in. As long as the computer has a codec installed which can play back that format, you're good to go. That is, you can rename a .mp4 file to .avi or .wmv and it will usually still play just fine.

In the case of movies copied from a Mac, as long as you add a .mp4 (or .avi or whatever) extension, it'll probably play. There's no need to convert it - it's probably just a MPEG4 video inside and most computers have a MPEG4 codec installed.
 
Thanks for the catch Solandri.

They seem to offer a 10 day free trial on the full version. That might be worth a shot? Particularly if OP is just wanting to do this as a one-off.

Alternative, what about HFSExplorer which is free and mentioned in this article: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-ways-read-mac-formatted-drive-windows/
Again - I claim no knowledge or experience (or accept liability!)... but sounds like it might be worth a try?
 

SpaceGhost92

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I'll give it a look, and no worries. I hold nobody liable except myself :)
 

TheHorse_1

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Just to add that I recently migrated my media library from an OSX Journalled multiple HDD system to windows NTFS system. I did this over LAN, specifying the Mac as a network drive in mapping. Data transfer was in line with gigE connection and no issues. If you have both computers near to each other, have a router and the cables I recommend this way to move files. I don't have much networking knowledge and managed it using this helpful website :)
 

Generally I don't like giving Macs write-access to my NTFS drives. They leave a bunch of .DS_Store and other files around to store metadata which is useless for Windows. If you regularly need to share data across Macs and PCs, then the networked solution is probably better and you can just live with all the . files everywhere.

But for a one-time transfer, I'd really recommend copying via an external drive. You copy from the Mac to the external drive. Then you can plug the drive into the PC and delete all the OS X . files with a few commands. Then you can copy to the PC. Edit: I suppose the other way could be cleaner - have the Macs share their disk over the network. Not sure if Windows sees the OS X metadata files if you do it that way.

The . files are present on the Mac as well. But OS X is built on Unix, and Unix hides . files by default, so it's usually invisible.