Formatting your new Harddrive Fat vs ExFat

After receiving a new samsung portable Harddrive in the post I today, as always the first thing I do with any new harddrive is format it, formatting it, is to wipe it completely ( for the purpose of this post it is anyway ) of data, surely it comes blank I hear people say, well yes, empty of documents and images e.t.c however all the harddrives in todays market struggle to stand out in the massive crowd of harddrive sellers.

The technology behind building Harddrives is pretty much wrapped up at this point, they come cheap and solid and last for ever(ish)

The harddrive vendors now battle for ground by offering automatic backup programs and/or encrption tools as well as other simple software, the problem with these is that they rarely ( i have never seen one ) are built for apple computers ( os x ) and even the windows software is normally very poor and I would hesitate before entrusting all my files to them.

So, I wanted to ditch all that rubbish that the vendor stuck on my shiny HD before I committed to putting anything on it.

I opened DiskUtility ( apple button + space , and type ‘Disk’ then hit return )

I selected the new 1tb samung drive from the list on the left and clicked on the ‘Erase’ tab, in the ‘format’ tab there is the list shown below.

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 23.27.23

This list gives you the choice of formatting available, for me , even though I do not use any microsoft products I choose normally to select the ‘MS-Dos’ (Fat) format as this gives me the most flexibility when moving files between computers as unfortunately microsoft does not think it wise to allow Apples formatting choice work on windows whereas Apple allows microsoft ( as well as many many others ).

I just bought a new mac recently and it has Mountain lion ( OS X 10.8 ), I am new to 10.8 and have not formatted anything yet so i was surprised when I saw another option in the ‘format’ list……. ‘Ex-Fat’.

Stumped and not wanting to commit to guess work I headed to google then Wikipedia and reading for far too long on one subject I learnt what I needed to know to make a decision.

So here it is, I put together a summary so you dont have.

Here are a few key points taken from the Wikipedia entry for Ex-Fat along with my thoughts.

Windows XP may require Update for Windows XP (KB955704) to manage exFAT formatted drives.

This means that most likely the computer I will be using i.e the computers at work/college as well as many people I know using microsoft products will not have this update as it will be seen as unessential or/and unimportant and as installing anything onto a Windows system is always a risk will rarely get done

Microsoft has not released the official exFAT file system specification, and a restrictive license from Microsoft is required in order to make and distribute exFAT implementations. Microsoft also asserts patents on exFAT which make it impossible to re-implement its functionality in a compatible way without violating a large percentage of them

Microsoft is aiming to get this type up to scratch and then charge as many companies as it can for using it, of course the problem is that all those cost come back down stream to us adding to the cost of out TVs and other USB supported devices, much better of using some form of Opensource type format

Limited or no support outside Windows and Mac OS X operating systems as of 2012—most consumer electronic devices could only handle FAT12/FAT16/FAT32, rendering exFAT (and flash memory formats using it) impractical as a universal exchange format.


Which means if you have other products such as PS3 a Tv with USB support or even your XBOX you are unlikely to be able to use them for while, if ever. they will only be support when your product maker can afford the fees , design the system and update your existing one – not very likely


You may have guessed it – I choose to stick with ‘Fat’ or ‘MS-DOS as Apple have named it for now, simply i choose it because it works with largest range of devices, as this is my travel drive , one to take around and watch films on that is the biggest pull for me.

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 23.15.31

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