Reformatting an External Drive for Windows


As you may remember from our first couple of classes, Mac and Windows use different filesystems for storage. That means that external devices like the hard drive you purchased for class won’t work on both computers without 3rd party software (Paragon) or specialized formatting (exFAT).

If you primarily use Windows computers, you can reformat your external hard drive for use with that operating system, but…


Reformatting destroys any data currently stored on the drive, so back up your files prior to beginning this process.


Reformatting a Mac Drive on Windows

These instructions come directly from Microsoft. They are optimized for Windows 7, but should be generally applicable.

  1. Using a Mac, transfer any files or folders that you wish to keep from the external hard drive to another storage method.

  2. Connect the external hard drive to a Windows computer by plugging the USB cable into the appropriate interface.

  3. Open Computer Management by selecting the Start  button. The select Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.

  4. In the left pane, under Storage, select Disk Management.

  5. Right-click the external hard drive/partition on that drive you want to format, and then select Format.

  6. To format with default settings, in the Format dialog box, select OK, and then select OK again.

Seagate, the manufacturer of the drive that was recommended on your supply list, also provides formatting instructions if you need additional help:

Reformatting for Both Mac and Windows

If you think you may want to use your drive on both Windows and Mac, you can try reformatting it using exFAT. ExFAT is a filesystem can be read by either computer type, though there is an increased chance of data corruption, especially if you move back and forth frequently.

Again, any type of reformatting will erase the data currently on your drive, so back it up first!

Instructions for formatting exFAT


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