Harddrive For Mac

19.10.2020by

Sep 27,2020 • Filed to: Hard Drive Recovery • Proven solutions

  1. Best External Drive For Mac
  2. Hard Drive For Mac Pro
  3. Hard Drive For Mac Computer

'How to format an external hard drive Mac? What format system to use when reformatting my storage drive for a Mac?'

Best External Drive For Mac

This is a frequent question asked by first-time, as well as the not-so-tech-savvy, macOS users. Learning how to format an external hard drive Mac is essential. Because saving all your data on the Cloud is nice and all, but physical storage is still popular. Especially if you don't have a stable internet connection or if most of your files are large.

Luckily, you don't have to learn rocket science to be able to format an external hard drive for Mac or PC. The operation is pretty straightforward. When it comes to your iOS device, we have listed two methods for you, read below and explore more.

Launch Disk Utility. Either head to Applications Utilities, or tap Command + Space and start typing. Editor's Note: Upgrading the hard drive can be one of the best things you can do for your Mac. But it's also one of the hardest to explain: each Mac model is different, and the upgrade.

Part 1: What Is the Best Format for External Hard Drive Mac?

The first step to formatting your external drive for a Mac computer is choosing the right format. There are four possible choices:

  • APFS (Apple File System)
  • HFS+ (Mac OS Extended)
  • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
  • FAT (MS-DOS)

To understand which is the best for you, let's have a comprehensive overview of each of them.

1. Apple File System

The APFS was first introduced in 2017 as a replacement for the HFS+. Nowadays, all new Macs come with the operating system preinstalled on APFS, as this system is optimized for use with SSD and flash storage drives. However, it still works with traditional HDD drives too.

This is the best format to pick if you have an external SSD or USB flash drive that you don't intend to use with a Windows device.

The biggest strength of this system is the speed, as well as the encryption and metadata handling. However, you won't be able to use this system with Time Machine.

2. Mac OS Extended

The HFS+, or Hierarchical File System plus on its real name, was the main file system used for Mac until 2017.

This type of file system is suitable to use with both HDD and SDD drives, but the latter will perform slightly better with the APFS mentioned above. If you have an older Mac, though, choosing the HFS+ is your best bet.

In general, all external drives formatted to HFS+ work nicely with older Mac versions but are incompatible with Windows.

3. Extended File Allocation Table

Designed by Microsoft, the exFAT is a good choice if you plan to use the external hard drive with both macOS and Windows systems. Yet, you won't get top performance on either. This choice is more appropriate for USB flash drives, although you can still use it for SDD and HDD units too.

The main issue with exFAT is that your drive will be more prone to fragmentation when used with Apple devices and is less stable than NTFS on Windows. If you really have to share the drive between Mac and Windows machines, that's your best option though.

4. MS-DOS

Macs also support FAT32 drives, marked as FAT in Disk Utility. This format should be avoided at all costs unless you're dealing with a really old Windows computer, which you really have to use in parallel with your Mac system.

Typically, there is no reason to choose this option unless you're planning to use the external hard drive on a Windows XP or earlier machine.

Part 2: How to Format an External Hard Drive Mac?

Now that you know which format to choose, it's time to learn how to format an external hard drive for Mac. There are essentially two methods, with Disk Utility or Time Machine function.

Note: If you plan to format an older external drive, perhaps one you used with another device, make sure to backup all data before proceeding. Formatting is a permanent procedure that can't be reversed. While there are data recovery software you can use if you lost data, it is always better to prevent.

That said, here's how to format an external hard drive Mac:

Method 1: Format Mac Hard Drive with Disk Utility

Hard

Disk Utility is a utility application proprietary to macOS that is used to both format and manage internal and external disks. Here's how to use it:

Step 1 Connect the external hard drive you want to format to your Mac, then start the Disk Utility app that you can find under Applications -> Utilities.

Step 2 On the left side of the Utilities screen, find the name of the external hard drive you want to format and select it. Then, on the top side under the Disk Utility, click on the Erase button.

Step 3 Follow the on-screen prompts to select the desired file system and allow the drive to format. That's it! After the process is complete, you can either start using the drive or choose to create partitions on it.

Method 2: Format Mac Hard Drive with Time Machine

Formatting an external hard drive with Time Machine is as easy as formatting it with Disk Utility. Time Machine, however, gives you the possibility to create an automatic backup of the data on your hard drive before formatting it.

Before you proceed, therefore, you should first set up the external drive to use with Time Machine. To do this, open System Preferences and select Time Machine after you've connected the external drive to your Mac.

Now, click on Select Disk and select the desired drive from the list. Click on the Use Disk button. At this point, the system will run an automatic backup two minutes after you've clicked on the Use Disk button, or you can proceed with the formatting if the hard disk is empty.

To format an external hard drive for Mac with Time Machine, you must follow the steps below.

Step 1 Open Finder, Applications, then go to Utilities and Disk Utility.

Step 2 Follow the steps above to format the drive, and then you can use it with Time Machine on your Mac system.

Part 3: Bonus Tip – Data Recovery from Formatted Hard Drive on Mac

Sometimes, it may happen that you accidentally formatted an external hard drive containing important data. Whether it's your wedding pictures or your bachelor's degree thesis, chances are you want to get that data back as quickly as possible.

If you have a newer version of Mac, you can use the Apple Time Machine to recover your canceled files, or you could choose to use external software, such as Recoverit Data Recovery.

1. Recover Data with Apple Time Machine

In the former hypothesis, you can try to recover your data with the Time Machine. This app is Apple's backup feature present on the newer systems. If you followed the steps above before formatting the hard drive with Time Machine and allowed the app to execute the backup, then there are high chances that you can recover any lost data without too much hassle.

To do so, just launch the Time Machine and browse through the folders to see if it has saved the files you require.

For easier browsing, you can use the time stamp feature on the right side of the screen and select the date or time when you executed the backup. Once you found the files, simply click on Restore to get them back.

2. Recover Data with Recoverit Data Recovery

If you didn't use the Time Machine function or couldn't find the files you need, you can try to recover any lost files with trusted third-party software, such as Recoverit - Data Recovery.

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Recoverit (IS)

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Hard Drive For Mac Pro

This system is also very easy to use, in just three easy steps:

Step 1Install the application and choose the desired location

Download and install the software on your Mac computer, then open it and select the external hard drive, partition, or location where you want to retrieve data.

Step 2Start the scan to retrieve your lost data

Click the Start button. The software will now scan the selected drive and display all retrieved data in an easy-to-scour list.

Step 3 Preview the recovered files and save them in your chosen location

Review and select the target files, then launch the recovery process. That's it. The software will restore your lost data.

Conclusion

As you can see, how to format an external hard drive Mac is not particularly complicated. The Disk Utility allows you to format the desired drive to the desired system in a blink of an eye. Backing up the data on your drive with Time Machine also allows you to avoid the recovery hassle. If you still lost some data, you even know which software to use to recover all lost files.

Now it's your turn. Use this guide to format your unreadable external drive, download, and use the data recovery software if needed, and don't forget to share this article with your Mac-addicted friends. They might make good use of it too.


Hard Drive For Mac Computer

Erasing your disk: For most reasons to erase, including when reformatting a disk or selling, giving away, or trading in your Mac, you should erase your entire disk.

Erasing a volume on your disk: In other cases, such as when your disk contains multiple volumes (or partitions) and you don't want to erase them all, you can erase specific volumes on the disk.

Erasing a disk or volume permanently deletes all of its files. Before continuing, make sure that you have a backup of any files that you want to keep.

How to erase your disk

  1. Start up from macOS Recovery. Then select Disk Utility from the Utilities window and click Continue.
    If you're not erasing the disk your Mac started up from, you don't need to start up from macOS Recovery: just open Disk Utility from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. Choose View > Show All Devices from the menu bar in Disk Utility. The sidebar now shows your disks (devices) and any containers and volumes within them. The disk your Mac started up from is at the top of the list. In this example, Apple SSD is the startup disk:
  3. Select the disk that you want to erase. Don't see your disk?
  4. Click Erase, then complete these items:
    • Name: Type the name that you want the disk to have after you erase it.
    • Format: Choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Disk Utility shows a compatible format by default.
    • Scheme: Choose GUID Partition Map.
  5. Click Erase to begin erasing your disk and every container and volume within it. You might be asked to enter your Apple ID. Forgot your Apple ID?
  6. When done, quit Disk Utility.
  7. If you want your Mac to be able to start up from the disk you erased, reinstall macOS on the disk.

How to erase a volume on your disk

  1. Start up from macOS Recovery. Then select Disk Utility from the Utilities window and click Continue.
    If you're not erasing the volume your Mac started up from, you don't need to start up from macOS Recovery: just open Disk Utility from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. In the sidebar of Disk Utility, select the volume that you want to erase. The volume your Mac started up from is named Macintosh HD, unless you changed its name. Don't see your volume?
  3. Click Erase, then complete these items:
    • Name: Type the name that you want the volume to have after you erase it.
    • Format: Choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Disk Utility shows a compatible format by default.
  4. If you see an Erase Volume Group button, the volume you selected is part of a volume group. In that case, you should erase the volume group. Otherwise, click Erase to erase just the selected volume. You might be asked to enter your Apple ID. Forgot your Apple ID?
  5. When done, quit Disk Utility.
  6. If you want your Mac to be able to start up from the volume you erased, reinstall macOS on that volume.

Reasons to erase

You can erase at any time, including in circumstances such as these:

  • You want to permanently erase all content from your Mac and restore it to factory settings. This is one of the final steps before selling, giving away, or trading in your Mac.
  • You're changing the format of a disk, such as from a PC format (FAT, ExFAT, or NTFS) to a Mac format (APFS or Mac OS Extended).
  • You received a message that your disk isn't readable by this computer.
  • You're trying to resolve a disk issue that Disk Utility can't repair.
  • The macOS installer doesn't see your disk or can't install on it. For example, the installer might say that your disk isn't formatted correctly, isn't using a GUID partition scheme, contains a newer version of the operating system, or can't be used to start up your computer.
  • The macOS installer says that you may not install to this volume because it is part of an Apple RAID.

About APFS and Mac OS Extended

Disk Utility in macOS High Sierra or later can erase using either the newer APFS (Apple File System) format or the older Mac OS Extended format, and it automatically chooses a compatible format for you.

How to choose between APFS and Mac OS Extended

Disk Utility tries to detect the type of storage and show the appropriate format in the Format menu. If it can't, it chooses Mac OS Extended, which works with all versions of macOS. If you want to change the format, answer these questions:

  • Are you formatting the disk that came built into your Mac?
    If the built-in disk came APFS-formatted, Disk Utility suggests APFS. Don't change it to Mac OS Extended.
  • Are you about to install macOS High Sierra or later for the first time on the disk?
    If you need to erase your disk before installing High Sierra or later for the first time on that disk, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled). During installation, the macOS installer decides whether to automatically convert to APFS—without erasing your files.
  • Are you preparing a Time Machine backup disk or bootable installer?
    Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for any disk that you plan to use as a Time Machine backup disk or as a bootable installer.
  • Will you be using the disk with another Mac?
    If the other Mac isn't using macOS High Sierra or later, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Earlier versions of macOS don't work with APFS-formatted volumes.

How to identify the format currently in use

If you want to know which format is currently in use, use any of these methods:

  • Select the volume in the Disk Utility sidebar, then check the information shown on the right. For more detail, choose File > Get Info from the Disk Utility menu bar.
  • Open System Information and select Storage in the sidebar. The File System column on the right shows the format of each volume.
  • Select the volume in the Finder, then choose File > Get Info from the menu bar. The Get Info window shows the Format of that volume.

If your disk or volume doesn't appear, or the erase fails

  1. Shut down your Mac, then unplug all nonessential devices from your Mac.
  2. If you're erasing an external drive, make sure that it's connected directly to your Mac using a cable that you know is good. Then turn the drive off and back on.
  3. If your disk or volume still doesn't appear in Disk Utility, or Disk Utility reports that the erase process failed, your disk or Mac might need service. If you need help, please contact Apple Support.

Learn more

  • If you can't start up from macOS Recovery, you can use a different startup disk instead.
  • If Disk Utility shows a Security Options button in the Erase window, you can click that button to choose between a faster (but less secure) erase and a slower (but more secure) erase. Some older versions of Disk Utility offer the option to zero all data instead. These secure-erase options aren't offered or needed for solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash storage.
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