How can I use my old computer hard drive as an external hard drive with my new Mac?
Question by jason franklin /
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I just bought a new Mac. I took my old hard drive out of my old computer, and put it in an external hard drive case. I would like to use this hard drive, without having to reformat. I also have an empty 1TB hard drive with no case that has not been formatted with any operating system.

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Answers (15)
  • LaDonna Garner

    I agree with many of the above possible options i.e. NTFS or software. But in my case, I chose to keep the old hard drive (PC) unformatted and just copy over files as I need them to my MAC. Then the majority of files are readable and editable on my MAC. The few that are not, I just use a flashdrive and transfer them over directly and haven't had a problem...but it may depend on the software you have installed on the MAC vs the software the files were created on the old computer.

  • jerry sawyer

    I think you better use a new hard drive in order not to encounter delay in your work. You can really use the old one, but like Mortisha Brown said, you will have to wait fo tons of files to be read everytime you want to use it. Which is really not good at all.

  • Theo Reisinger

    If it's from a Windows PC, you will need something to read NTFS

  • Mortisha Brown

    It is possible to use your old hard drive without any reformating, only just like a flash drive, you can save in it. The only hassle is that everytime you want to use it and there are tons of files in it, you have to wait the system to read it first, then if you're done using, you just simply unplug it like unplugging a USB drive.

  • VictorGeis

    You definitely want NTFS on your Mac. Plus it'll be useful for using drives with Windows in the future.

  • Victor Cesto

    Plug your old HD in an external case and use Paragon NTFS to read and write NTFS files.

  • UD98

    buy an enclosure and use mounter

  • Dylan Brendan

    download mounter, this is a great one!
    Easily mount your old hd drive to your new OS.

  • Mike

    If your old computer was running Windows you will have to get a NTFS file system driver for Mac.

    If your old computer was a Mac too and you already have the old hard drive in an external case all you have to do is connect it to the new Mac.

    If you don't want to reformat it you will (obviously) have to deal with a lot of space being used up by old system files etc.
    Also you have to be careful when using Spotlight since the external hard drive will be indexed by default and when searching for an application Spotlight might show the old version from the external drive rather than the current one from the internal one.

    Not sure what to make out of your factory state 1TB hard drive.
    (a) get a second external case for it

    (b) If your older hard drive is way smaller than the 1TB create an image of it on your Mac, then put the 1TB in the external case, format it in HFS+ and copy the contents of the image too it.
    Now you have a large hard drive with a lot of free space and the contents of the old drive.

    (c) use one case with both drives by changing them (might be cumbersome)

    • jason franklin

      Which of the paragon programs would you recommend? My old hard drive used windows xp If I can figure out how to make the image of the old drive, and put the new 1TB drive in, I will probably end up doing that.

    • Laga Mahesa

      Look into getting a drive dock, rather than using an enclosure. I use a single, but dual ones can be found with little hassle. This will allow rapid switching and allow you to use both drives with no problems.

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