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Thread: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

  1. #1

    Default What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    Seems this is a common problem...

    Having been given a deal on a LaCie 500 GB USB HD I purchased even though it isn't listed in the HCL.

    As expected it has NTFS-related issues.

    My Archos mediaplayer is formatted as vfat, and that seems to work perfectly on my 11.1*, Windows and OSX.

    My question is, before formatting my drive as vfat, does anybody recommend a different file system, and why?

    Secondly, the only way that I think I can do this is to plug it into a PC running Windows since KParted won't let me modify it in this way. Is there an alternative program/method that will allow me to reformat in OpenSUSE 11.1?

    Thanks in advance.

    *(although oddly files that are put into, for example, "Video" folder are not accessible through the corresponding icon, and have to be accessed through the 'data' icon. I can live with this but would be very interested if anybody has any experience of Archos (405) and can offer an explanation or suggestion of how to stop this from happening!)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    FAT has a 4GB file size limitation so if you need more than that, choose NTFS (if you're going to use it on multiple OSes) as it's supported and can be read/written on all platforms, Linux, Mac, Windows (I think UNIX too? not sure though)

    If you're going to use it exclusively on Linux, then choose Ext3 or XFS. There are drivers for these FSes for Windows but I've no clue how good they are. No idea if there are any for OS X

    For formatting, use YaST disk partitioner or gparted

  3. #3

    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    Quote Originally Posted by BBQCH View Post
    As expected it has NTFS-related issues.
    You seem to have low expectations, I would fix the issues (or be at least a lot more precise on them).

    For sure vfat is not a good choice for big files, but partitioning such a big drive -perhaps with different filesystems- would be.

    Secondly, the only way that I think I can do this is to plug it into a PC running Windows since KParted won't let me modify it in this way
    I had never any issues with partitioning drives, no matter what FS was on them, so this is most certainly a user's error.

    Hint:

    There are a lot more tools for that job, the CLI-based tools ALWAYS worked for me.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    Thx for your replies. I will hunt around for the CLI tools; lack of confidence means it's not my first choice.

    I didn't have low expectations at the time I bought the disk! I was trying to show that having stumbled, I have bothered to read around the issue and it is not unknown. In particular External Hard Drives--How to locate and mount - openSUSE Forums

    microchip8, from your reply, you appear to be suggesting that NTFS is a viable format? If this is the case can you tell me why I cannot R/W to the disk, or even see it in Dolphin?

    The partitioning tool in YaST gives a popup saying that it cannot be used to modify the disk in question.

    I would dearly like to do it with the CLI but it is still a bit of an unknown for me. When using it, there seems to be less opportunities to play around and try stuff out. Intuition isn't rewarded in the same way it is with a well-developed GUI, but expertise is.

    My worry is that I will somehow render the disk unusable and won't be able to take it back for a refund.

    I will search around CLI formatting commands, though would massively appreciate a bona fide suggestion before actually running it.

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    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    Quote Originally Posted by BBQCH View Post

    microchip8, from your reply, you appear to be suggesting that NTFS is a viable format? If this is the case can you tell me why I cannot R/W to the disk, or even see it in Dolphin?
    You need the ntfs-3g driver NTFS - openSUSE
    Yes, NTFS is a viable format for multiple-OS compatibility

    The partitioning tool in YaST gives a popup saying that it cannot be used to modify the disk in question.
    This has happened to me in the past too, esp on NTFS file systems. I always "fix" it with gparted

  6. #6

    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    Thanks again microchip8. I did read that earlier, and understood that from 11.0 onwards it was pre-installed, so not an issue?

    This might sound really dumb, but can I use gparted if I have KDE? I'm guessing not...

    Th advice in the last para. of the linked article, relating to hotplugging of ext. HDs, contains a NOTE stating that KDE 4 is not affected (I have 4.1.3). Is it worth following the advice there?

    My thought is that since filesize >4 GB is not a concern I should format it as FAT, which I will have to do using the CL. It will then be hotpluggable and will also function on my office machine which runs Windows? Is this correct?

    Cheers.

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    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    Quote Originally Posted by BBQCH View Post
    ... you appear to be suggesting that NTFS is a viable format? If this is the case can you tell me why I cannot R/W to the disk, or even see it in Dolphin?
    Note it is important for the Linux ntfs-3g driver, that any external USB drive formatted as NTFS is unmounted/removed properly when using both Windows and Linux.

    Hence there can be cases here the NTFS formatted external USB drive is "dirty" having NOT been removed properly from MS-Windows. The solution in such a case is to reboot to Windoze, plug in the drive, then remove it properly from Windows by first unmounting it using the icons (as appropriate) in the lower right corner of the Windoze operating system. Then physically remove the drive when told it is safe to do so. In some cases, this is not enough, and one has to run "fsck <drive : > " from a DOS/Command window under Windoze to clean the drive. fsck - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Note Linux may NOT mount the drive if it was made dirty by Windoze and it may not provide read/write permissions to the drive if it is "dirty".

    Also, recent openSUSE versions hotplug automount the drive, so it is often best not to put entries in /etc/fstab for the external drive, as that can cause mounting confusion/problems.

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    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    yes you can use gparted under kde, or grab the live CD and burn it to disc, then boot from it like I do (since I use it on many systems)

  9. #9

    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    @oldcpu:
    That's something to bear in mind for the future since I will deifnitely be swapping between the two OSs, but cannot apply in this case since I just took it out of the box (at least I assume it cannot apply).

    Can someone suggest a *foolproof* way to partition/format from the shell?

    Otherwise, use gparted which if understand correctly I can only use if I'm running the liveCD or have gnome?

    Does anyone have experience with PartedMagic? Any good?

    Thx.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What is the "best" format for a USB HD?

    there is parted, which the yast partitioner also uses. it's a command line partitioning utility

    no, you can use gparted if you install some of its gnome dependencies (if it has any). you don't really need to get the livecd version, I just pointed out to it since I use it across different systems

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