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External HD for use with both PC and Mac ?

Scratch Live
Ortofon | Serato S-120
poutinex 5:11 PM - 29 June, 2004

I have a question related to external drives.
I have a Win32 XP computer for work and Mac OS X for fun.
I have an external firewire 120Gb HD for storing my MP3s.
I used this HD mostly on my PC; I initially formatted it in NTFS.
I can plug this HD in my Mac and the music files are visible and can be played ( that is, using v1.1 since v1.0 was crashing with Unicode music file names ) but the drive is accessible in read-only.

My questions are :
- is there a way to format a HD such that we can have both read and write access on both Win32 and Mac OS X ?
- what is the biggest size of HD partition usable on Mac OS X ?
- what is the recommended combo of formatting and partition size which allows someone to access and manage music on a single HD from either Win32 or Mac OS X machines ( if possible ) ?

Also, a few bugs / anomalies :
- if I launch v1.1 the iTunes playlists are not there, I have to go to calibration ( even if the "import iTunes" option is ON ), and play with calibration options and then coming back to the main panel the iTunes playlists will be there
- when I quit the application it seems it is trying to save some information, maybe it is trying to save on my external NTFS HD ( read only ) ? If I restart v1.1 right after quitting, Serato v1.1 hangs as well as my computer, must hard reboot.

Are these issues related with using an external NTFS HD ?

How can I avoid these ?

DJ 3pm 6:09 PM - 29 June, 2004

Back-up the contents of the drive (if possible)
Format the drive using Disk Utility in OS X (HFS+)
Buy the program MacDrive from (a full funcioning demo is available)
Copy back-up of data to newly formatted drive

-MacDrive allows your PC to read any Mac formatted volume (CD, Zip, HD, etc.)
-Mac OS X does not have a maximum HD partition size on Firewire partitions
djjb 9:58 PM - 29 June, 2004
I do exactly what DJ 3pm said. I have a Lacie external drive formatted Apple HFS, and use MacDrive to read/write to it when it is connect to my PC.

I use my PC as my primary iTunes library, and let iTunes keep files in order. Then I periodically - usually weekly - make a copy of the iTunes folder (including the XML) to the ext. hd.

On the Mac, I configured iTunes to use the external drive for storing files. After I update the files on the external drive, I have iTunes (on the mac) import the XML that is on the ext. drive. This has worked perfectly for me so far.

BTW, MacDrive isn't free. The demo version only works for a month, after that you have to buy it to keep using it - about $40. Which isn't too expensive IMO.
nik39 11:01 PM - 29 June, 2004

- what is the biggest size of HD partition usable on Mac OS X ?

I cant really give a proofed answer, but I can tell you what my experience is:

I tried a 40GB (USB) drive formatted as FAT32, it worked fine on my Windows machine and also worked fine on Mac, then I switched to a 160GB drive which worked in Windows but didnt work with the Mac. Unfortunately I realized this right in the club just before I wanted to spin on my friends Mac, what a pitty. He said that the Macs have problems with drives/partition larger than 120GB, maybe someone can verify this here.
Josh 11:40 PM - 29 June, 2004
Yeah I'd go with NTFS since Mac OSX 10.3 supports it natively already...
djjb 3:38 PM - 30 June, 2004
Are there any performance issues with Mac accessing/using a NTFS partition?
poutinex 5:02 PM - 30 June, 2004
I am not very familiar with Macs, but using my NFTS HD on it is working fine, although the drive is visible in read-access only. This is not good in my case since I want to have the ability to save new music files from my Mac onto the external HD.

I think I will purchase a new big firewire HD, format it in HFS+ and use MacDrive 5 as suggested above for using this HD from my WinXP machine.

Can anyone from Rane / Serato technical support reproduce the 2 bugs I mentioned in my first message above ? Please let me know if you need more information ; can this be caused by an attempt from the software to write data on the (read-only NTSF) HD ?

Txs for the suggestions,
Shaun W 5:38 PM - 30 June, 2004
The read-only HD may be the cause, because SSL creates a .del file (del files are temporary files used to store the contents of an MP3) while creating the track overview display waveforms and if your HD is read only, SSL cannot create the necessary .del file.
DJ 3pm 8:04 PM - 30 June, 2004
The problem that some Macs have with drives/partitions larger than 120GB is actually a limitation in the ATA/100 controller. On a 160GB drive, the controller is only able to read 136GB. Only Mirror Drive Door G4's and Xserves can read drives larger than 136GB straight out of the box (all G5's use Serial ATA, which is not backwards compatible). You can buy a third-party ATA controller for use in desktop machines.

This is a controller issue and not an OS issue. This ONLY affects internal IDE drives, not external drives in another enclosure (FireWire or USB). If your external enclosure uses an efficient IDE --> FireWire bridge, you should have no problems. If you are going to purchase an enclosure, look for the chipset used. Oxford 911 became the industry standard for reliability and has since been upgraded to Oxford 922. The newer chipsets support FireWire 400 and usually USB 2.0/1.1 as well.
nik39 8:11 PM - 30 June, 2004
This ONLY affects internal IDE drives, not external drives in another enclosure (FireWire or USB).

It was an external USB drive, and with Win XP and linux the drive sizes are recognized correctly.
poutinex 9:54 AM - 2 July, 2004
Hi Shaun,

Could you test usage of an external HD formatted in NTFS and see if you can reproduce the bugs that I mentioned: crash on restart plus need to go to calibration to force reloading of your iTunes playlists ( each time restarting the software ) ?

If you can repro then could you add a note in "Known Issues" ?

Also would it be possible to detect usage of a NTFS (read only) drive and prevent the software to write teh .del files in this case ? Could we get a fix in the next drop ?