Seagate Expansion Desktop User Manual
Seagate Expansion Desktop 

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Optional Formatting and Partitioning

Your device is preformatted exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) for compatibility with both Mac and Windows computers.

Choosing a file system format

When choosing a file system format, consider whether compatibility or performance is more important in your everyday use of the drive.

  • Compatibility—You need a cross-platform format because you connect your drive to both PCs and Macs.
  • Performance—You connect your drive with only one type of computer, so you can optimize file copy performance by formatting the drive in the native file system for your computer operating system.

Compatibility with both Windows and Macs

exFAT is a lightweight file system compatible with all versions of Windows and modern versions of macOS. If you use your drive with both PCs and Macs, format your drive in exFAT. While exFAT offers cross-platform access to both computers, keep in mind the following:

  • exFAT is not compatible or recommended for built-in backup utilities such as File History (Windows) and Time Machine (macOS). If you want to use one of these backup utilities, you should format the drive in the native file system for the computer running the utility.
  • exFAT is not a journaled file system, which means it can be more susceptible to data corruption when errors occur or the drive is not disconnected properly from the computer.

Optimized performance for Windows

NTFS (New Technology File System) is a proprietary journaling file system for Windows. macOS can read NTFS volumes, but it can't natively write to them. This means your Mac can copy files from an NTFS-formatted drive, but it can't add files to or remove files from the drive. If you need more versatility than this one-way transfer with Macs, consider exFAT.

Optimized performance for macOS

Apple offers two proprietary file systems.

Mac OS Extended (also known as Heirarchical File System Plus or HFS+) is an Apple file system used since 1998 for mechanical and hybrid internal drives. macOS Sierra (version 10.12) and earlier use HFS+ by default.

APFS (Apple File System) is an Apple file system optimized for solid state drives (SSDs) and flash-based storage systems, though it also works with hard disk drives (HDDs). It was first introduced with the release of macOS High Sierra (version 10.13). APFS can only be read by Macs running High Sierra or later. 

When choosing between Apple file systems, consider the following:

  • Windows cannot natively read or write to APFS or HFS+ volumes. If you need cross-platform compatibility, you should format the drive in exFAT.
  • If you intend to use your drive with Time Machine:
    • The default format for macOS Big Sur (version 11) and later is APFS.
    • The default format for macOS Catalina (version 10.15) and earlier is HFS+.
  • If you intend to use your drive to move files between Macs running older OS versions, consider formatting your drive in HFS+ rather than APFS.
  • macOS file systems and Android: Formatting your drive for macOS may not be supported with connections to Android mobile devices.

Learn more

For additional considerations when choosing a file system format, see File System Format Comparisions.

Formatting instructions

For instructions on formatting your drive, see How to format your drive.