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Old 04-29-2013, 02:44 PM   #1
Registered: Mar 2011
Distribution: Slackware 64 -current,
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New USB external drive questions

The drive is a seagate 1tb usb drive with no external power supply. I'm running slackware 64 current. The drive comes unformatted, i think im ok with setting it up. My questions are:

1. If i want the drive readable and writeable to both windows and linux what is the best file system to use?

2. What kind of realistic transfer rates can i expect with USB 2.0 ?

Old 04-29-2013, 03:50 PM   #2
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If it's going to be accessed by Windows then I think your only real option is to format it NTFS -- I would do that under Windows as I'd expect it to do it "more properly" but there's no real reason behind that assumption. If you use ext you'd need a driver under Windows and last time I checked it only did ext2 and if you use exfat you're limited to files smaller than 4GB (not that I know whether you can even format a 1TB drive with fat).
As for speed, sorry I've not really played with USB drives that much.
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Old 04-30-2013, 12:39 AM   #3
Registered: Apr 2013
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FAT is indeed an option for a 1TB drive. I have a 2TB drive formatted as vfat. I chose that because I had heard that there were Linux systems that were not fully compatible with NTFS, but that information may be inaccurate or out of date by now.

One disadvantage of FAT is the file size limit, 4GB-1byte. Another disadvantage is the relatively large allocation unit (cluster size). My 2TB is formatted with 16KB clusters, so in some applications there would be a lot of slack space associated with small files. (I use this drive mostly for large files, so in my case there is very little slack.) One more disadvantage: the FAT itself takes up a fair bit of space, 512MB in my case, I think.

As for transfer rates, I am seeing about 21 MB/sec copying from one USB drive to another USB drive, and 34 MB/sec copying from USB drive to internal SATA drive. These are USB hard drives with external power supplies and 3.5 inch HDD units inside. I do not know whether similar rates are obtained with USB-bus-powered drives, or with drives with 2.5 inch internal HDDs.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
Registered: Mar 2011
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Thanks for the replies, i may try vfat after looking at some stuff i found on USB storage, and linux ntfs performance My windows install is pretty much vestigial at this point anyway, if vfat and ntfs dont perform well i guess ill try reiserfs.
Old 05-08-2013, 08:53 AM   #5
Registered: Apr 2013
Location: France
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You could try to partition your external drive using cfdisk(1), with
1. a vfat partition readable and writable by both linux and windows (maybe 100 Gb, more if needed)
2. another partition with a Linux-only filesystem

I would not advise a reiserfs filesystem, since it is not clear whether it is going to be maintained
in the future. I think ext3 would be better if you want to ensure compatibility with all existing
linux systems. xfs or jfs would also be interesting options, but (1) you cannot shrink an xfs partition,
(2) RHEL, CentOS, Scientific Linux (at least) only support ext2/3/4 on 32bit machines, so you may not
be able to exchange data with these.


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