At home I have multiple operating systems, Linux (debian), Mac OS X Lion and Winders 7. I have a large USB drive that I want to use to backup/transport files. What filesystem should I use that will allow multiple OS's to read/write to it. It is a 500 GB USB drive using USB 2.0.


FAT32 is your best option for read/write access from Windows, OS X and Linux with no third-party add-ons. Note that it won't support individual files larger than 4GB.


The only universal FS (without additional software) is sadly FAT32.


FAT32 is the lowest common demoninator and is a virtual guarantee of compatibilty but you'd probably be interested to know that NTFS is possible, http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20090913140023382, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/how-to-read-and-write-ntfs-windows-partition-on-mac-os-x.html

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