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How to Reformat External Hard Drive for Mac


Summary:

This article describes the ways to reformat external hard drive on mac without losing data.

Why do I need to reformat external hard drive?

External hard drive is useful that can be very convenient to help us to backup, store data and transfer files among computers. Which helps conserve storage space on your hard disk and move files quickly. But it is not always so fluent to move files between Mac and PC, namely, between macOS and Windows. The two different operation system have different default file system: the default file system on Windows is NTFS, while it is HFS+ or APFS on macOS. It should be noted that the HFS+ and APFS are not compatible with Windows and NTFS is read-only on macOS. In order to make our external hard drive seamlessly work on both Mac and PC, we need to format our drive to a file system supported by both platforms, so the contents can be read on both platforms.

Which file format should I use?

You can choos a file format that's right for your circumstances based on the operating system and storage content you use frequently.
 
1. APFS (Apple File System) - This is the new file system that Apple bought to Macs with High Sierra and it will be the default if you are using that version of macOS. It is being more efficient and more reliable. But it won't be readable or usable by a Mac that isn't running High Sierra, and Windows won't be able to read or write either.
 
2. MacOS Extended (also known as HFS+) - If your Mac isn't updated to High Sierra it will be the default file system on the Mac. You can encrypt your drive and require a password to access it. There's also an option of MacOS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted) if you are likely to have file names that require capital letters. Windows can read HFS+ drives but can't write to them. However, It is a good choice if you are likely to reformat external hard disk and don't want anyone to access the contents of the drive should you accidentally lose it.
 
3. NTFS - This is Windows' default file system. MacOS can only read NTFS, it can't write to it.
 
        Cons: By default, NTFS is read-only on macOS. So read-only can't be a reason for us to give up using NTFS, especially when we have high requirements on transfer speed and performance of drives.
 
4. MS-DOS FAT (aka FAT32) - it can be read and written by Mac, Linux and Windows, so if you ofter transfer files among windows and mac. You might want to use this file system.
 
       Cons: It doesn't support files larger than 4GB, drive partition larger than 32GB on Windows, or drive partition larger than 2TB on macOS; FAT32 offers no security and it's more susceptible to disk errors.
 
      So FAT32 is suitable when we want to store files of relatively small sizes and the drive doesn't have a large capacity. Otherwise, FAT32 is not the best choice for us.
 
5. ExFAT - this is similar to FAT32 above. Both Windows and Mac can read drives formatted with this. The main difference is it can store files over 4GB.
 
      Cons: It is not compatible with older operating systems. We must have macOS 10.6.5 or newer, and PC need to be Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7 or newer.
 
As most users have upgraded operating system, it is actually quite easy to meet to lowest operating system requirements of exFAT. So exFAT can be a very good option to share external hard drive between macOS and Windows.

Steps to reformat external hard drive mac

Here's how to format an external hard drive if you are planning to format it with a Mac.
1. Launch Disk Utility. Either head to Applications > Utilities, or tap Command + Space and start typing Disk Utility.
2. Once Disk Utility is open you'll see the list of available drives on the left. Choose the drive you'd like to format. NOTE that formatting your drive will erase the contents, so make sure you back it up first!
3. Click on the Erase option from the four options available in the main window. A panel will drop down, warning you that erasing the selected drive will destroy all data on the drive.
4. In the Erase panel, enter the new name for the volume you're about to create. and use the drop-down Format field to select from the following(Depending on the type of your disk, some options may not be displayed here.):

      - OS X Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
      - OS X Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)
      - OS X Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted)
      - MS-DOS (FAT32)
      - ExFat

To format a file format that can be used by both Windows and MacOS, you can choose MS-DOS (FAT32) or ExFat depending on the size of the data to be stored. If the disk is intended to be used exclusively with macOS, choose either the Extended or Journaled option.
 
5. After you have made all of your selections, click the Erase button.
6. Disk Utility will erase and format the selected drive, resulting in a single volume being created and mounted on your Mac's desktop.
7. Click the Done button.
 
This is the main step in formatting a drive using Disk Utility. Congratulations, your external hard drive is now erased, reformatted and ready to be used. 
 
We all know that if it is not backed up in time formatting any disk can lose data from it. If we lost data from the reformat external hard disk, we should find a way to recover data from it.

How to recover data from reformat external hard disk?

When you want to recover data, Close all programs that might access or use the formatted external hard drive and do not reformat it any more. because If you format the hard drive more than once, the operating system will create new file system for each formatting. All these cause data overwrite. Then use Bitwar Data Recovery for Mac to recover the lost data as soon as possible.

Install the Bitwar Data Recovery for Mac?

Download Bitwar Data Recovery for Mac by clicking below download icons. Then install it on your Mac OS X. The software is compatible with OS X 10.11 and later.

Tips: For latest macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) system requirements, Mac users are not allowed an access to system disk from apps. If you want to recover data from the system disk, please disable the system feature "System Integrity Protection (SIP)" , see the guide on How to Disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) in macOS High Sierra (macOS 10.13)


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Steps to recover data from formatted external hard drive

Step 1: Launch the program and select the formatted external hard drive and then click "Next". Before this, you should connect reformatted external hard drive to your Mac.
 

Step 2: Select the "Formatted recovery" mode and then click "next". If "Formatted recovery" couldn't scanned out the lost data you want, you should try deep scan more time. Deep scan will search every sector of the hard drive to find all existing files, but it disadvantage is that the scanning process will spend more time than quick scan and will not have the original file name in the scanning results.
 

Step 3: Choose the file types which you want from the formatted external hard drive and click "Next".
 

Step 4: After scanning, filter out the lost data by file name and Type and then preview them.
 
After you have determined, select the ones you want and press the recover button to have them saved to a safe path of Mac.

Tips: Never recover files directly to the formatted external hard drive where they originally were.
 
Now that you learned how to reformat external hard drive and recover lost data from it? Download Bitwar Data Recovery for Mac today to get started.

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