What Is the Best Format for External Hard drive For Mac?

No matter how much extra space your laptop hard drive provides you, there comes a time when the external hard drive is an absolute need. Being in a digital world, we accumulate a lot of data each day, especially if you are a business owner.


Data accumulation occurs at a faster rate than it used to happen in past because of digitalization. All the data from the hard form is being shifted to soft form for more convenience and the easy discovery of specific sort of data.

When it comes to external hard drives, there are a lot of options available. Apples ‘free disk apps allow you to format the hard drive, allows you to partition to create multiple copies of one drive. It also allows you to give a label to your data. Before jumping to conclusions, first, have a look at the options available.

Best Format for External Hard drive For Mac:

Mentioned below are some of the best formats for external hard drives for the Mac operating system.

Mac OS Extended (HFS+):

Mac operating system can only read NTFS hard drive by default. To write or delete on your NTFS hard drive in Mac operating system, you are required to use a third-party driver.

Mac OS Extended or Hierarchical File System which is the basic file system pre-installed on Mac system till 2017. HFS+ is the improved version of the old Hierarchical File System which can support both larger files and allows you to name files on your external hard drive.

It has also improved data reliability and security over time.

HFS+ formatted hard drives work excellently with Mac operating system, but they are unable to perform with another operating system, as it is an exclusive file system from Mac. HFS+ is the best option for you if you are planning to use Mac for an extended period.

Apple File System (APFS):

Apple File system is a suitable format for your external hard drive especially if you are running Mac OS High Sierra or a later version of the Mac operating system. Apple File System factors strong encryption allows space sharing with the improved file system and is advanced for all the flash storage. Furthermore, the speed of the APFS had been improved over time.

Before jumping to a conclusion, keep in mind that APFS can only be read by Mac OS High Sierra or all the later versions. If you are planning to use APFS on another version of Mac OS, it would be better to format your hard drive in HFS+ format instead.


If you have to work on both the operating system, i.e. Windows and Mac computers, exFAT is the most reliable option for you. exFAT allows both the operating system to read, write and delete data stored on a hard drive making it an ideal option for flash storage and external hard drives.

exFAT is easy to operate and allows a wider range of compatibility, with no size limit. It allows a larger file and partition limit. exFAT saves you from the hassle of switching between two systems every time you are required to retrieve the files from any of the operating systems.

New Technology File System (NTFS):

Yes, it isn’t impossible to use NTFS with your Mac OS. Mac operating system can only read the NTFS file, but the installation of third-party drivers can allow you to read, write and delete to NTFS.

But with serious limitations such as file size limitation and partition size limitation, it is not a suitable option. Furthermore, if your data is highly important, don’t risk your data as NTFS could corrupt and delete your data.

One of the safer options to write to NTFS is to try iBoysoft NTFS for Mac for free. This utility has been tried altogether and permits you to not only write and delete to your existing NTFS but arrange new drives to NTFS.

disk space

Selection from a wide range of format options can be a bit confusing task and picking the wrong one can lead you to more troublesome as now you are required to back up and reformat the whole drive because it didn’t work as you wish. Hopefully, after reading this blog you will be able to understand which hard drive format best suits your need.

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