Working with NTFS-formatted disks on non-Windows environments has been an unpleasant activity so far for me. It is always related to extra work in the form of additional configurations and many frustrating results.
Before I was a Mac user, I got the “privilege” (as it is seen on the techie community) to struggle my way around the possibility of configuring a few Linux systems to write on some NTFS volumes formatted by Windows.
As it is usual in many Linux-related configurations and tweaks, the process was full of unsupported and experimental installations, system errors, and hours of forum reading activities. Probably, as a Mac user and, knowing that Windows is the main force behind the operative system’s universe, you would think that accomplishing the task of working with NTFS volumes on the Mac OS X would be easy. Why not? Most things on the Mac are.
If you’ve had the need of dealing with NTFS partitions on your Mac before, I can assume it is highly possible you already know fit is not easy, it is not standard, and it is not remotely enjoyable to work (and with work I mean R/W) with NTFS disks at all on a the Apple operative system today.
If you don’t know the right tool, the experience could be as frustrating as it is on any other system besides Windows, even in those we like to see as inferior systems. The main purpose behind this article is to share with you a bit of my experience trying to find that proper application and hopefully save you from making the same mistakes.
As with 99% of the times I need to find a way to solve something, I started at Google when I noticed I could not use my NTFS disk on the Mac. I instantly remembered the additional rpm installer of Red Hat and assumed that something similar could be happening on my beloved unix-based operative system.
Since this is not a new issue on the system, the web already has thousands of articles and blog posts on the subject. Many solutions are available; some of them are free, and some of them are paid. I’ve tested a few, and today I’d recommend the one I believe to be the best among them all: Tuxera NTFS for Mac.
My first approach, as usual, was to go with the free option. As most people, I don’t like to spend money just because. If there is a free application that can properly accomplish the task; that is the way to go for me.
To make it short and simple, if you want to try the free solution, you would need to read a bit about MacFUSE, and NTFS-3G for Mac OS X. I did install the software, test a couple of versions (including beta), and the results were mixed.
The first time I used this alternative, it worked. The keys to this success were the requirements I had at the moment. Just writing a few files into a disk from time to time was enough for me. It wasn’t a bug-free process, but it was pretty decent if you realize you can overcome a few glitches (in the form of errors when trying to copy files back and forth), and eventually accomplish the task for free.
Serious problems began when working with NTFS external volumes became a part of my job. As it turns out, working on a daily basis with external units on a fully-equipped Windows environment, moving around big files, and executing virtual machines on the fly from those units can be highly stressful for your disk, and more important, for your system and its third-party libraries.
There’s only so much the software can do for you, and every piece of software has its limitations. In my experience, working with the 32-bits MacFUSE package bring excessive load to my system, leading to frequent hangs and damaged file systems on the NTFS disks. Trying to work with this model became a nightmare.
Frustrated by the constant error messages, execution of disk-repairing tools, and temporary freezes of my system; I started looking again for a different option. That’s when I found Tuxera NTFS, downloaded the trial version, and starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Tuxera NTFS for Mac supports every version of Mac OS X, including Lion. The support for extended NTFS features and the 64-bits kernel makes it a robust solution for everyone, especially for the demanding users.
My first set of “informal” tests was related to the massive amounts of data passing from one disk to another. With one Firewire 800 and one USB 2.0 disk, moving files from one to the other was not only faster that in any previous test, but as reliable as only the “no-errors” factor can be.
Several attempts to collapse the system with heavy and multiple transfers resulted in a clean copy/move of files every time. It didn’t matter if I was working with many small files or a few big ones; the result was always flawless. At the same time, the system was pretty much unaware of what it was going on. I never got the CPU usage above 2.5%, which is a pretty small footprint for any given process.
Another important feature you gain when using Tuxera is the possibility to verify and repair NTFS disks using your Disk Utility. When I was using the MacFUSE drivers and my disks were giving me a hard time, it was not possible for me to check them using the utility I’ve always used on the Mac. It was simply not supported. Now, with Tuxera installed, it is all “Fine and dandy” as Mr. Carlin would say.
A few more interesting settings can be configured to better suite the needs of your environment or simply your personal preferences. Some of them are related to specific volumes (e.g. disable file system caching) and some other to the general behavior of the software (e.g. always mount unclean volumes).
I’ve been using the trial version of this software and I couldn’t be happier with it. I’d recommend all of you who are having similar issues to try it as well. After you’ve tested its simple installation and flawless performance, I’m sure you will feel that $36 ($30+tax) is more than fair price for such a good product.
There are many options and different approaches to solve this common problem within the Mac community. Some of them work better than others but without a doubt I can assure you that with Tuxera for Mac you can kiss your NTFS problems goodbye.
Product [Tuxera NTFS for Mac]