Techie Stuff

How to format an external Lacie Drive

Formatting the external LaCie hard drives

LaCie drives are among the most popular external drives for Macbooks. I recommend that you purchase one for this class to back up your work.

If you plan to use the drive just for your Macbook, you can merely format for Mac OS. But should you want to also use the drive on a PC, things become a little tricky.

Until recently, there was a 4 GM limit on formatting a drive that would work on both a Windows operating system and a Mac OS. But you can get around this limitation provided you use the Mac OS Extended or EX FAT designation. This task can be accomplished by using the Disk Utility found in your utilities folder. Once you open the disk utility, you should see a dialogue box that looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 1.26.44 PM

Below the table are instructions for formatting the drive from a Mac or Windows computer.

Pro: Mac OS & Windows can read and save on the drive
Con: Files must be smaller than 4 GB in size.

Pro: Files can be larger than 4 GB in size.
Con: Mac OS can not save to the drive. The drive can be read in Mac OS, and files copied off the drive.

Mac OS:
Pro: Files can be larger than 4 GB in size.
Con: The drive can only be used on Mac OS. The drive will not even appear on a Windows computer. However, you can now use Ex Fat on a Mac and it will allow you to get around the 4 GB file limitation. You will also be able to read the files on a Windows PC as long as the operating system is Windows 7 or later.

To format the LaCie drive in Mac OS:

Mac OS 10.x Users:

You have the option of formatting the drive in one of four formats: Mac OS Standard (HFS), Mac OS Extended (HFS+), MS-DOS File System and UNIX File System (UFS).
HFS – Mac OS Standard

Mac OS Standard refers to the file system used by Mac OS 8.0 and earlier. This is no longer a modern file system specification, and Mac OS Extended is more efficient. Only use this file system if you are creating a volume smaller than 32MB, using a Mac with a 680X0 processor, or you are creating a file structure that will be need to be used by Macs using Mac OS 8.0 or earlier.
HFS+ – Mac OS Extended

Mac OS Extended refers to the file system used by Mac OS 8.1 and later. HFS+ represents an optimization of the older HFS file system by using hard disk space more efficiently. Building off of HFS, they increased the number of blocks from 65,536 to
4.29 billion. With HFS+, you are no longer limited by block size.

MS-DOS File System
This is the Microsoft file system, more typically known as FAT 32. This is the file system to use if you are going to be using your LaCie hard drive between Macs and Windows operating systems.
UNIX File System
This is the file system based on UNIX, and is preferable for users developing UNIX-based applications within Mac OS 10.x. Unless you have a specific reason to use the UNIX File System, you should instead format your drive using Mac OS Extended (HFS+), because it provides Mac users with a more familiar operating experience