And one file system to be read by them (OSs) all?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jcdill, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. jcdill

    jcdill Guest

    I have a new 400 gig hard drive that I'm mounting in an external drive
    case. I'd like to format this drive in an OS-agnostic format so that I
    can plug it into a Windoze, Mac, or *NIX computer (via USB or Firewire)
    and the computer can talk to the drive and read and write to the file
    system and the photo files (canon raw, tiff, and jpegs) therein. Is
    there a single file format can be read and written to by all these
    systems? If so, can I format the drive in a single parition in that
    format and have the full partition be seen in total by all systems? If
    so, which OS should I use to format the drive?

    I *think* that Fat32 works in all 3 systems, but the problem I have is
    that Windoze XP stupidly refuses to format a disk that large in Fat32
    in a single partition. Before I track down an alternate system (or
    boot to an alternate OS) to format the drive, I wanted to be sure that
    it will work as I expect once formatted and that this is the best file
    system choice for my purpose.

    I'm hoping some one else has already figured this problem out for their
    own external drives and has the answer!


    jcdill, Jan 7, 2006
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  2. jcdill

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Let us know what you find out. I saw a 250GB LaCie external drive at
    CrapUSA yesterday whose enclosure had a 100mbit Ethernet port as well
    as the usual USB2 port. There is apparently a miniature network
    server inside the enclosure. The outer box said that it supports SMB,
    FTP, and HTTP. That might be a reasonable way to go about this. It
    would also let you share the drive between multiple machines without
    having to plug and unplug cables.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 7, 2006
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  3. jcdill

    ASAAR Guest

    Have you tried checking disk utility software? One I recall from
    several years ago was Partition Magic, that could do all sorts of
    things, much more than MS allowed, such as being able to dynamically
    resize partitions. The vendor of such programs may be able to
    answer your questions if it's not covered in a FAQ.
    ASAAR, Jan 7, 2006
  4. jcdill

    Paul Rubin Guest

    You could try this:

    Whether Fat32 is the best choice, I have no idea.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 7, 2006
  5. And lacking that... if a file server is suitable, any
    motherboard recent enough to deal with a 400Gb hard disk can
    have a Linux OS up and running in nothing flat, and running a
    journaled filesystem that can be accessed over a network (LAN,
    wireless, whatever) using samba and/or nfs.

    And of course that too could use ftp and http.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 7, 2006
  6. *Don't* put all 400Gb into a single partition, no matter what the
    file system is going to be.

    And yes you are probably stuck with FAT32, simply because Microsoft's
    OS's can't understand anything else.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 7, 2006
  7. jcdill

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Yeah, that means you need a PC-sized box though, cumbersome even if
    it's a small PC. This LaCie thing was not much bigger than a normal
    3.5" HD enclosure.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 7, 2006
  8. jcdill

    Paul Rubin Guest

    What's wrong with that?
    Paul Rubin, Jan 7, 2006
  9. jcdill

    Ron Hunter Guest

    There are limitations on total size of a disk for all FAT versions.
    These have to do with cluster size, and number of FAT entries, and
    aren't negotiable. Anyone who formats a 400GB drive as one partition
    probably just tosses all his important papers into a garbage bag at
    random as well.... Organization is the soul of efficiency, try it.

    Face, it there just isn't a completely compatible cross-platform disk
    Ron Hunter, Jan 7, 2006
  10. There are limitations on total size of a disk for all FAT versions.
    For FAT32 the limit is 8 terabytes. Windows forces the use of NTFS for
    anything over 32GB, but will happily read/write to FAT32 disks bigger
    than that when they've been formatted by another OS. Microsoft support
    this usage, so I suspect they're just forcing the use of NTFS on large
    disks at format time because they think they know best what you should
    be doing.
    Now there's a peculiar argument if ever I heard one. :eek:) Most people use
    subdirectory structures and they work fine on a single large disk.

    The only argument I can think of for not formatting the disk into one
    big device is that with FAT32 you only get 2 copies of the file
    allocation table. Corrupt both and the whole disk is in big trouble. At
    least if you've broken it into logical sections you won't loose as much
    data in the event of a double FAT corruption.
    Not one worth using, no. :sigh:
    Derek Fountain, Jan 7, 2006
  11. jcdill

    Kinon O'cann Guest

    Kinon O'cann, Jan 7, 2006
  12. jcdill

    Kinon O'cann Guest

    Windows can read and write FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and NFS.
    Kinon O'cann, Jan 7, 2006
  13. I use 300 GB disks on windows XP and linux Red Hat WS 3 and 4.
    It works great. Older versions of linux did not do well
    with linux (friends had usb fat 32 disk problems with linux
    red hat 9, for example).

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jan 7, 2006
  14. Isn't FAT32 limited to a 4G partition? Or is it a 4G single file size
    8TB partition size limit, and 2GB file size limit, IIRC.
    That's a network protocol, not an on-disk filesystem format.
    Derek Fountain, Jan 7, 2006
  15. jcdill

    Jim Guest

    The the other issues is the limitation on secotrs in FAT32. Format a
    400 G disk with FAT32 and you will end up with very large sector sizes.
    Which means small files can take up much larger amount of space on the
    physical disk.

    And , I for one, would not care to trust an unjournaled file system on
    disks this size. Too much chance for errors and the potential to loose
    large quanitites of data. I am a big fan of raid arrays for disks
    bigger than 200 GBytes (stripped and mirrored or hardware RAID5).

    Build the disk on one system, then share it across your network to the
    other machines. Windows, Mac and UNIX can all deal with NFS shares.
    Jim, Jan 7, 2006
  16. jcdill

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Regarding one large partition. When a lot of stuff gets written to it,
    defragging can become a lengthy business. Partitioning can make this
    problem much less of a headache.
    Ron Hunter, Jan 7, 2006
  17. Yep. It depends on what is physically suitable. A PC is fine *if*
    you happen to have an old one sitting there taking up space and wonder
    what to do with it. It isn't fine if there is no space for it or
    if an old one can't be found for virtually no cost.

    But it *is* a very viable alternative that should be pointed out as
    useful for some.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 7, 2006
  18. Some file systems simply can't do it. (For example, some of the
    Microsoft filesystems can't, because the FAT has only so much
    room, and blocks would have to be allocated in multimegabyte
    sizes.) I'm not familiar with the specifics off the top of my
    head, and don't think it is worth looking up which ones have
    which maximum size because other reasons override that anyway.

    Manipulation of a 400Gb partition once it gets anywhere near
    full, is nearly impossible. Programs like /fsck/ will take
    forever to run; it can't be backed up to a single device; and
    most significant is that any fatal corruption will affect the
    entire 400Gb.

    If, for example, it were divided into 10 each 40Gb partitions,
    or maybe even 5 each 80Gb partitions, all of the above becomes
    significantly more tolerable.

    (There are of course exceptions to the above. A truly huge disk
    farm might well use partitions that large, and the fact that
    /fsck/ takes hours to run is not significant because the
    partition is duplicated at least once already.)

    As an interesting sidenote... SGI about 10-12 years ago (I don't
    remember the exact dates) started developing the xfs filesystem
    simply because they realized that with the then currently
    existing file systems and the rate at which disk drive size was
    increasing, it was apparent that very soon 5Gb partitions
    would be possible... and /fsck/ on existing filesystems would
    take all day.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 7, 2006
  19. NFS is not a filesystem, it is a network protocol.

    FAT, FAT32, and NTFS are what's left, and of those FAT32 is the
    only one suitable for a disk that will be swapped with other

    That leaves FAT32 as the only suitable FS that Microsoft's OS's
    can read.

    If Microsoft OS's are not part of the plan, then almost all of
    the commonly used filesystems on the various Unix systems can be
    used by other OS's.

    Of course if a *server* is used, and access is via a network
    rather than physical movement of the hard disk, then NFS can be
    used to transport data to *any* host from *any* filesystem.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 7, 2006
  20. One more reason to put the disk on a server (running BSD, Linux,
    OSX or whatever *other* than Windows) where at least a decent
    journaling filesystem can be used. No defrag required...

    Even better would be to use at least two disks and a RAID array.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 7, 2006
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