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Ask Max: How to make bootable ext firewire/usb HD?

Asked on 04/27/2007:

How do I make my WD ext HD Firewire/USB 120g into a bootable drive? I use an original Cube 500mhz w/panther 10.3.9, 1.25 GB RAM, 120g int. HD and have a SuperDuper to use for b/u to the WD ext hd.


Most new external hard drives come formatted in an old PC disk format, called Fat-32. They do this because nearly all computers can read and write to a Fat-32 hard drive. Macs also can use Fat-32 disks, but they cannot boot from those disks. What you will have to do is reformat that Western Digital drive as a "Mac OS Extended" drive. You do this by opening the Disk Utility application, found in the Utilities folder that is inside the Applications folder. Select the WD hard drive in the left hand pane of the Disk Utility window. Then click on the erase tab. Change the "Volume Format:" pull down menu to Mac OS Extended and then name the drive. Once you click on the "Erase" button the drive will be overwritten in a Mac-only format. This will cause you to lose all the data on the WD drive, so back up those files! Now you will have a bootable drive that will only need an OS installed or cloned onto it.

This is the same step you should do with any new drive that you buy. The only reason to leave a drive formatted in Fat-32 is if you share file between a PC, using the drive.

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