Tony’s Tech Tips: Cross-platform Drive Sharing

by Tony Gamble

People love their Macs. And people love their PCs. Okay, maybe love is a bit of a stretch, unless you’re an avid gamer who has spent a lot of time and resources on honing your PC’s performance, but you get the picture. Most users are very comfortable with their choice of platform. In the early days, this caused a bit of an issue when it came to sharing files amongst friends, family and associates. At that time, you couldn’t even share a floppy disk between platforms. That was soon resolved when Apple began building its floppy drives with compatibility for MS-DOS formatted disks. The same could not be said for the PC side of things, however. In fact, to this day you still cannot read or write a Mac-formatted drive in Windows without third-party software. Today’s tip highlights three such utilities.


MacDrive for WindowsMacDrive from Mediafour is a premium solution that has been around for over 15 years. For around $50, you can read and write any Mac-formatted USB, hard drive or optical disk as easily as any other device that shows up in the Windows Explorer file browser. It even comes with a disk repair utilities.


HFS for WindowsParagon Software offers a similar utility for free, if it’s for non commercial use. With 20 years of experience behind them, they’re able to offer faster data transfers than even Apple’s own native file system driver. If you’re a commercial user, the full version is only around $20.


HFSExplorerHFSExplorer from Catacombae is a Java-based utility that lets you read (but not write to) Mac drives at the low, low price of free. Unlike the others, HFSExplorer doesn’t show you the files in your Explorer but rather in its own file browser. It’s also available to Linux users and can even read Mac-formatted iPods. And did I mention it’s free?


Do you have a favourite cross-platform utility you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below.

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