XP on Mac via Boot Camp finished – sort of (or: Choose File System Wisely)

Windows XP setup finished – very quickly, I might add. My Core Duo 1.6GHz 2GB RAM Mac mini appears to run native Windows XP very speedily. After first boot, I ran the Macintosh Drivers CD, which installed everything it needed (except my iSight camera, which apparently is not supported under XP – neither is the Apple Remote. Bummer.).

I booted back into OS X, to see how I would go about accessing my new Windows partition. I didn’t see any way to access my Mac partitions from XP – nothing was visible. Not even the 160GB LaCie Firewire drive (though that one does show up in Device Manager OK).

In typical geek fashion, now is the time I decide to read the documentation. After I’m done. 🙂 Hmm. It seems that I made a mistake back at the beginning of the installation process – I chose NTFS as the file type for the Windows partition, instead of FAT32. There hasn’t been a good reason to chose FAT over NTFS for a long time, so it was automatic for me. But…

It seems that in order to have more than read access to your Windows partition from inside Mac OS X, you need to choose FAT32 as the file type. Oops. *sigh*

There’s no way to convert from NTFS back to FAT (though you can go from FAT to NTFS), so now I have to decide whether I want to blow it away and do it again the right way, or see if I can hack up a solution to transfer files between the two OSes.

I thought I could use the LaCie 160GB Firewire drive as a go between. Windows can’t see it as a volume, so I installed the Mac Drive Test Drive (30 day trial – how generous *rolls eyes*) software that came with the LaCie drive. After reboot, I still can’t see the drive. Mac Drive says it’s there. Once more into the documentation. Turns out there’s the same limitation – even with Mac Drive installed, it seems I’d have to reformat the 160GB drive as FAT32 in order to access it from windows. Oh, and FAT32 doesn’t support partitions larger than 32GB. So I’d have to do 5 or 6 of those. Yuck.

As an aside, what the heck is the value in this Mac Drive software if you still have to reformat the drive to a compatible file type? Shouldn’t it allow me to access HFS formatted Mac Drives?

I’m undecided as to what I’m going to do at this point. But I am very happy with the prospects. Windows XP on the Mac is freaking fast. Probably one of the fastest instances of XP I’ve ever used. 🙂

Stay tuned for updates!


14 thoughts on “XP on Mac via Boot Camp finished – sort of (or: Choose File System Wisely)

  1. agm says:

    I recently had to send of a 200 GB drive to another school to get a backup of a data archive, ~ 100 GB. Knowing that OS X doesn’t like NTFS, I did the research. It turns out that FAT32 will support as large a partition as you want, if you do the partitioning with a non-MS partition utility — qtparted will give you enough rope to hang yourself. However, neither Windows and OS X will see partitions above 160 GB (it was unclear if that means they only see the first 160 GB or they just won’t see the partition at all). I simply formatted 120 GB FAT32 partitions, and all three OSes I had access to were happy.

  2. agm says:

    BTW, FYI, FAT32 is the only format that can be seen by all. The recommended Linux solution is to add a FAT32 partition (separate from the Windows partition) for transfering files among the OSes. Funny how I haven’t seen this discussed yet in the Boot Camp dual-booting discussions.

  3. Brad says:

    As a long-time Linux/Windows dual-booter, I have to say the easiest solution I’ve found is to have a “bridge” FAT-32 partition. Allowing other OS write permission to a FAT-32 Windows System disk can make Windows even more prone to flakiness. Either resize the HFS+ through OSX (there are fine guides out there that explain how Boot Camp does it) or do a defrag on the NTFS (to consolidate) and use a tool like gparted (live cd version here: to resize the NTFS partition.

  4. Roshan says:

    Is there no way to get XP to read/write to the OSX partition? having installed boot camp on a mac book pro

  5. Mark says:

    I have Boot Camp running on my MacBook Pro. The Windows partition is NTFS and it is fully visible (although read-only) when I am in OS X. My strategy is to store data on the OS X partition and I use MacDrive on the Windows side to access the OS X partition when I am in Windows. It works great – no problems. In fact, I have even been successful at configuring my Firefox and Thunderbird profiles to be stored in one location on the OS X drive and be accessed by both so any changes to my profiles (config, bookmarks, preferences, etc.) on either side of the fence are usable on both. The problem with FAT32 is that you have no security and fewer data-integrity options.

  6. Todd says:

    Until somebody (i.e. Apple) writes an HFS+ driver for Windows, you won’t be able to access the OS X partition from XP.

  7. Murple says:

    I installed Boot Camp and WinXP on my iMac recently. It would be great for both OSes to have full access to all data on both partitions, but for the time being I´m using an external USB drive.

    The strange thing is, my external drive is FAT32 with a capacity of 250GB. Works fine on both OSes. On windows I run a bunch of portableapps(.com) off it, and on Mac I just store files on it.

  8. Pingback: Apple - Support - Discussions - Transfering files to my Windows ...

  9. Jack Hynes says:

    Thanks for this, made sure I got the right one. Glad I had a quick search about the pros/cons of both. I’m used to ext3!

  10. Pingback: Defrag Boot Camp XP - Dogpile Web Search

Comments are closed.