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Back that Sweet Data on Up.

1.7.2009

A few months ago, I finally sprung for an external hard drive for data back-ups - a slick 320G drive w/ USB and Firewire connections. I can't have over a decade's worth of code, photos and music vanish. With my drive, I had wanted:

I did have a little trouble getting everything to play nicely; mostly with regards to the file system for the drive. The potential file systems were HFS (native to Mac - but which WinXP won't read), NTFS (native to Windows - but which OSX can't write to) and FAT32 (which both Mac and XP can read and write to - but is ideal for neither).

I had to give up on using Time Machine - apparently TM will only use an HFS drive. When I used OS X's Disk Utility to create an both an HFS partition and a MS-DOS partition on the same drive, XP kept seeing the drive as "unallocated" (un-formatted). Even after the solution presented below, the Disk Utility was unable to split the partition into two.

With HFS and NTFS out, that left FAT32. Unfortunately, WinXP won't format drives larger than 250G as FAT32. But the hubby tipped me off to these steps.In summary:

  1. Use XP's Disk Management utility to partition, but not format the drive. This utility is very well hidden. It's in Control Panels> Administrative Tools> Computer Management. Take a deep breath, then drill into Storage, and there's Disk Management.
  2. Download Ridgecrop's fat32format command line utility to format as fat32 - it's super zippy fast.

This process gave me a single FAT32 partition that both XP and the Mac can read and write to. The only thing safer would be some off-site storage.

PSA: There are only 2 kinds of hard drives out there - those that have crashed, and those that will. What's your data recovery plan?

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Tags: hardware paranoia psa

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