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Thread: help with "portable drive"

  1. #1
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    help with "portable drive"

    Had a bad experience the other day trying to help someone initialize new "portable drive" -- think it was Seagate brand? I expected the portable drive would act like a USB Flash drive, but it didn't.

    Could someone enlighten me? Are there some general references / articles?

  2. #2
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    You need to tell us more about the drive... If it connected via USB, then in theory it should behave like a USB flash drive.
    "Life is unpredictable, eat dessert first."

  3. #3
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    Thanks for response. I don't have the drive in my possession. Beieve it was "Seagate" brand. I expected it would act like a USB flash drive: just plug it in and drag files to it. BUT it did not act like that.

    I'm wondering if all portable drives are that complicated, or is it only Seagate? I'm trying to help friend store some big files and don't know where to begin?

  4. #4
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    It depends on what operating system you're using. I have formatted external storage devices on Debian, so if you're using that or something similar (any reasonably normal Linux distro probably, or maybe even BSD), I might be able to help you. If you're using something else, I don't know.

  5. #5
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    Use MAC at school. Don't know operating system.

    It seems the external drive is much more complicated than a USB Flash. I did not expect that.

  6. #6
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    If it's a Mac, then the operating system is almost certainly Mac OS X, if you don't know otherwise. (It doesn't really matter which _version_ of Mac OS X it is, because things like how to format a drive don't change often.)

    The issue isn't that the external drive is more complicated to partition and format. It's not. Partitioning and formatting a USB Flash drive would use exactly the same procedure as an external USB hard drive.

    The issue, rather, is that most USB Flash drives come already partitioned into one big partition (which is probably what you want, because Flash drives have relatively small capacity) and formatted with a FAT32 filesystem (which is likely what you want if you need to be able to use them with Windows computers; otherwise, it may NOT be what you want -- more than once I've reformatted a USB Flash drive for ext2 or ext3, so that it can support things like symlinks).

    Hard drives -- both internal and external -- usually do NOT come already formatted, because it's much harder for the manufacturer to guess what kind of partitioning and filesystem layout you would want. This is mostly because hard drives are so much larger than Flash drives, so it's far more likely that you're going to split them up a bit. For example, it's very common for a hard drive to have a "small" partition (which may still be larger than the entire capacity of the USB Flash drive) formatted FAT32, plus a much larger partition formatted with some other filesystem (for a Mac user, this might likely be HFS+ or possibly UFS; for a Windows user it would probably be NTFS, and for a Linux user there are a number of possibilities).

    So yes, you do need to partition and format your new hard drive.

    I'm afraid I don't know how to do that on Mac OS X, though. Well, I know a way that would probably work (using fdisk and mkfs from Terminal -- assuming you can figure out what your system is calling the device), but that's not the normal user-friendly way most Mac users would use. I'm sure there's something in the graphical user interface for doing this; I just don't know what it is, because I have only very minimal experience with OS X, and I've never used it to format a new disc.

    If nobody can answer here, you could try asking on a Mac-oriented forum.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the education. I did not know about partitioning and formatting. The friend I was trying to help (in my ignorance) is going to see the IT people at school.

    Yes, the MACs would be OS X. Friend has PC at home so will want "dual" platform formatting.

    Next time, I will at least be prepared to do more than just plug it in.

    Thanks again.

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