How do I partition a hard drive that will have both OS X and Windows installed?

jane November 1, 2011

Is it possible to make 3 partition on a hard drive – 2 for a Mac (1 for time machine and 1 for storing files) and 1 for Windows? If I do this, can I still use the Mac OS extended format for the two Mac partitions? Or should I use FAT on all 3 partitions? I’m looking for a way to organize all of these operating systems and their files on one external hard drive while retaining the use of Time Machine with OS X.

  1. Douglas Pease
    November 16, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Your Mac comes with the two apps needed to create the 3-headed multi-bootin' time-travlin' mess'o'partitions you want.

    Disk Utility - Split the 1 Apple partition into two.
    Boot Camp Assistant - Create a Windows partition & install the Windows OS onto it.

    But, PLEASE, do not use the 2nd Mac partition as your Time Machine backup location. If your hard drive fails, your backup is gone too. Think about it. Use an external drive.

  2. Mike
    November 2, 2011 at 6:58 am

    There shouldn't be any problem doing this. 

    Just create the 3 partitions e.g. via Disk Utility in Mac OS X and set one of them as NTFS for Windows and the others as HFS+

    Time Machine only supports HFS Extended Journal disks so using FAT* wouldn't work.

    One thing you have to be careful with is the partition table. If you are using Windows XP you will have to set the drive being formatted with MBR. For Windows 7 there shouldn't be any problem if you keep the Mac OS X default (GUID Partition Table).

    Last but not least if you install Windows 7 make sure that your drive doesn't get re-partitioned and you only format the one created for Windows.