Can Microsoft ' s ExFAT file system bridge the gap between OSes?

Source: Internet
Author: User
Tags macdrive

Transferred from: review-is-microsofts-new-data-sharing-system-a-cross-platform-savior/

With Apple's licensing of Microsoft ' s ExFAT file system, it seems like we finally had a good option for OS X and Windows Disk swapping. Dave Girard spent some time investigating the appeal, the limitations, and the alternatives to ExFAT.

One of the more painful areas of cross-platform computing is data sharing. While networking between Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux have gotten a lot easier thanks to SAMBA, disk sharing still feels Li Ke It's infancy thanks to proprietary file systems and the unique legacy needs of the respective operating systems They run on. There is options for Cross-platform file Sharing-plenty actually-it ' s just, each one presents its own limitations and Appeals. With Apple ' s licensing of Microsoft's ExFAT file system, it seemed like the main problem with fat32-the 4GB file size Limi T-was put to rest, and many people is probably now using it to swap video libraries between their MacBooks and htpcs or S Hare downloads between OS X and Boot camped Windows. But ExFAT have its own issues and limitations that few people is probably aware Of-and considering how few people even kno W about ExFAT, we thought this is a good opportunity to cover it, along with the various alternatives.

Exfat:the Savior of cross-platform file sharing?

First, a brief history of the ExFAT for those unfamiliar with it. ExFAT is a proprietary Microsoft file system This is designed to bridge the gap between the NTFS file system and the more Dated FAT32 file system. Its main advantages is the It can store files over 4GB since it is a 64-bit file system. Its max file size limitation are exbibyte and its theoretical max capacity are ZiB (zebibyte), which our people In the lab has called "stupidly huge." You won ' t has any issues with hitting file size or capacity ceilings with ExFAT. Since ExFAT is a closed format, Apple had to license it to integrate it into OS X 10.6.5 and later. You can format a volume as ExFAT within Disk Utility. I ' ve read about people have issues with ExFAT disks that were formatted using Snow Leopard ' s (10.6.x) Disk Utility showi ng up in Windows. Apparently, Apple's block size is correct according to the standard, but different enough from Windows ' default to cause It is recognized on the WindowsSide. So Snow Leopard users were forced to use Windows to format the drive as ExFAT, and then it would show up fine in OS x. THI s seems to being fixed in Mountain Lion (10.8) since I didn ' t has any issues getting the Mountain lion-formatted ExFAT parti tions to show on Windows 7. On the Windows side, native ExFAT support is built to Windows as of Vista SP1, and ExFAT drivers are available for older Builds like XP. Since It's a relatively new and proprietary format, Linux ExFAT support was definitely lackluster, but there was an implemen Tation of ExFAT as a FUSE user-space level file system. I Haven ' t personally tried it.

ExFAT limitations and things to keep on mind

Before you run out and format everything as ExFAT, you should understand its limitations-and they aren ' t insignificant. ExFAT have no file System-level encryption or compression support, and, like FAT32 before it, there is no journaling built Into the ExFAT file system. This means it have a much higher probability of data loss than with NTFS or hfs+. Since FAT32 and ExFAT is common USB stick file systems, TFAT And texfat are driver-level additions to FAT32 and ExFAT volumes that address the lack of journaling in much the same to that Apple have with hfs+ in OS x. But those is currently only implemented in mobile OSes. That's not it. ExFAT also isn ' t supported by Time machine in OS X, which requires an hfs+ volume. Another odd limitation of ExFAT in OS X are that you can ' t create a software RAID array in ExFAT format, and you CA n Do it with the FAT32 format. It also have very limited permission and ACL support for those who need to isolate different users from certain fiLes. If you're just planning on sharing a video or music library, this isn ' t a problem. Still, the lack of journaling could be problematic. In the limited testing I do, bundled OS X applications launched fine from an ExFAT volume. I wouldn ' t recommend installing apps to a non-hfs+ volume, though, since the lack of permissions support could probably CA Use issues with larger applications. For content developers and designers looking to share files between Macs and PCs, you should has no issues using ExFAT as A bridge format. You should is careful when copying older Mac fonts to an exfat-formatted disk, though. Older Mac PostScript font suitcases has resource fork data that was not retained when copied to NON-HFS or hfs+ volumes (H FS is the older pre-OS X file system, for those wondering). So if your ' re using anything other than hfs+ disks, it's best practice to use the Finder to zip your fonts if you ' re transf erring older suitcase-based PostScript fonts. The OS X Finder ' s zip supports rEsource Forks-that ' s One of the reasons it creates the __macosx folder in Zip archives. Newer font formats like the OpenType don ' t use resource forks, so newly purchased fonts won ' t is a issue on non-hfs+ volumes.

A brief look at some ExFAT alternativessome NTFS options

Since the NTFS file system has been around for a while, it's now well supported across all OSes with some free and commer cial options. As a cross-platform file system, NTFS ' s major appeal is the IT supports journaling across all oses-without any Driver-lev El fixes or workarounds. By default, OS X reads NTFS volumes but can ' t write to them. You need additional software to get the write access to these NTFS disks. The fuse-based ntfs-3g is the most appealing option since it is free, but it hasn ' t been updated since (so I wouldn ' T recommend it. The popular MAC options are Tuxera NTFS, which is a fuse-based implementation, and the Paragon NTFS for MAC. Both packages offer control over volume caching, ntfs-specific options, and some handy additions for full Mac OS X Compati Bility:?

Tuxera ' s preference pane.

Both Paragon and Tuxera Let's format NTFS right from within Disk Utility, but Paragon was the only one that supports form Atting of NTFS compressed volumes and full journaling of NTFS disks. At $ $, it ' s also currently $ cheaper than Tuxera. After you see the benchmark results, it should are pretty clear which is the choice-go with.

The hfs+ options

Apple's Boot Camp drivers install read-only support for hfs+ volumes by default so can access those MAC partitions with In Windows. Early versions were very unstable and caused, frequent BSODs, but the latest version seems to work fine. The lack of write support are the real drawback, so you'll need macdrive for that. As the best-known hfs+ driver for Windows, Mediafour ' s macdrive have been around for a while now. I ' ve used macdrive for years and has always liked its feature set. Apart from the basic read/write features, it lets your set volumes to read-only on case you don ' t want Windows messing with Your volumes. IF you format a partition on a Mac OS X volume within Windows, macdrive'll protect the main partition info so that your Other Macs volume data is unaffected. This frequently came in handy while formatting the test partition for the benchmarks in Windows 7 SP1. The Pro version of MacDrive adds support for OS X hfs+ software RAID volumes, secure Delete, and auto-defragmentation, which could is a boon to multimedia the users who prefer to keep large media files from being fragmented. MacDrive have partial support for journaling-if your machine lost power or the drive is removed while copying in OS X, it w Ill read the journal entry and try to complete the copy. But if you're in Windows, MacDrive does isn't edit the journal, so you get no journaling support for file system operations Done within Windows. At $49.99 for MacDrive Standard and $69.99 for the Pro option, that makes macdrive a harder sell given the slight handicap When compared to Paragon in OS X. Obviously, if you have a external hfs+ software RAID you need to share, macdrive Pro I s the only option. But if you were starting with disks from scratch, NTFS is the cheaper option.

Can Microsoft ' s ExFAT file system bridge the gap between OSes?

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