A lot of homes and offices have both Windows PCs and Macs. It’s important that your data storage solution is one that will be compatible with both platforms. Your data is extremely vital and picking a suitable infrastructure is something that needs to be done right. Deciding on how you store your data comes down to varying factors, like how quickly you need to have access to the data, how much space it takes up and whether or not you need the ability to share it to multiple users.
One method is to use an external hard drive. However, they are disadvantageous in a business setting where there are lots of users. Each drive would need to be written to individually and you would have to move the drive to each computer that you want to use it on. You also have to consider that an external hard drive isn’t instantly compatible on both Mac and Windows. If the drive is formatted in the NTFS file system, which is the standard for modern Windows operating systems, then Macs will only be able to read it and not write. Both operating systems will be satisfied if the drive is in the FAT file system, but the problem here is that you cannot convert a NTFS drive into FAT without deleting the partition and reformatting it. This is a cumbersome task and it is unadvisable to be running your drives on the outdated FAT file systems nowadays anyway. On top of that, Windows doesn’t play nice when it comes to Mac’s HFS+ file system as XP, Vista and 7 can neither read nor write from it natively. However, there are ways to work round it with programs such as HFS+ for Windows or Hfsexplorer (although the latter is read only).
Perhaps the best solution, especially for business users, would be to use network-attached storage (NAS). A NAS is a device that is prebuilt and comes with software to help you manage your data, connecting through the network router rather than the desktop. Modern NAS devices are now able to backup files, become Wi-Fi hotspots and connect to mobiles. Windows and Mac users can use a NAS without the need for additional tweaking – it’s compatible straight out of the box across platforms. Something like FreeNAS will do the job nicely, whether it’s needed for home or business, although most NAS devices will do the job fine too. There are great benefits to using a NAS: it’s simple and easy to understand, can and stores everything all in one place. And since it offers cross platform support without any hassle, it’s probably one of the best options out there.
An alternative to consider could be cloud storage. This stores all of your files remotely. Storing in the cloud is a good way to provide compatibility to both operating systems since the majority of cloud storage options have programs for both Windows and Mac. Companies like Google offer their advanced infrastructure which lets you store, access and manage your data at any time – provided you are connected to the internet. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you are without an internet connection then you will not be able to download any updated files from the cloud. If you suffer problems with the connection then it could lead to wasted employee time. Also, if you have secure and private information, then you might want to consider the implications of storing that data in the cloud. Is it really safe with that company? Cloud storage is probably best in situations like when you wish to share a file with someone who is outside of the company.
Data Storage for Mac and Windows: Things to Consider
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