Why Can't macOS BigSur Read my External Hard Drive?

Big Sur

Episode 1754

Peter from Brooklyn, NY

Tim's BigSur Mac is having issues reading an external hard drive. Leo says that since the drive is formatted to NTFS, Big Sur has trouble reading the drive. So it would be better if you reformatted the drive to APFS or ExFat or another Apple supportable file format. Also, try MacFuse or Paragon. That may help your Mac read the drive.

Why can't my Mac read my hard drive after boot camping Windows?

macOS Catalina

Episode 1688

Ruben from Chappel Hill, NC

Ruben has a Mac that he runs Windows in boot camp. He has an NTFS drive that he needs to read from time to time. When he reboots back into macOS Catalina, the hard drive partition isn't recognized and won't mount. Leo says it sounds like macOS has messed up the partition used to run boot camp. He recommends backing up the data, repartitioning the drive and then reinstalling Catalina.  Look up FUSE drivers: it enables you to read/write NTFS drives in macOS. 

Read Mac Formatted Drives with Windows

When you plug a drive that's been formatted for Mac into a Windows PC, you may find that it isn't readable. This is because Mac uses the HFS+ format natively, whereas Windows uses ExFAT or NTFS. One simple way to make the drive readable on both platforms is to format it to ExFAT, which both operating systems can understand. This will erase all contents on the disk, however, so you'll need to transfer those files to a safe place first.

If you can't reformat the drive, there are programs available that will make it possible to read a HFS+ drive on a PC:

Why can't Windows read my external hard drive?

Episode 1297

Luiz from El Monte, CA

Luiz has a hard drive that Windows can't read and it wants to reformat it. Leo says chances are that it was formatted with Apple's file system, rather than Windows file system. Leo recommends copying the files off of it using a Mac and then reformat the hard drive to FAT. Then copy it back. The Windows machine will be able to read it then.

Another option is to just buy a second hard drive that is already preformatted in FAT and then just copy them over from the other hard drive with the Mac. Then he'll have two copies, one being a backup. It'll then be a simple drag and drop.

How can I get rid of Linux on my dual boot Windows machine?

Episode 1280

Bernie from Washington

Bernie has a dual boot system running Windows and Linux. He wants to know if he can reformat his hard drive to make more room for Windows since he doesn't want to use Linux anymore. Leo says he won't be reformatting, he'll be repartitioning. That means he'll adjust the section for Windows to make it larger. Windows installer has a partition utility built in called FDisk. He should look into options, find the Linux partition, and delete it. Then he can make one large primary partition on the Windows drive. He can then format the partition to NTFS.

What format should I use for my external hard drive?

Episode 1018

John from Southbend, IN

John has an old Vista laptop he's going to put Ubuntu on. Before he does, he wants to backup all of his photos. What drive should he buy? Leo says he'll want an NTFS drive that also handles FAT32 for Mac and EXT3 for Linux. Everything can read FAT32, so he can just leave the format that way. Macs have trouble with NTFS. The downside of FAT32 is that none of his files can be larger than 2GB.