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External Hard Drive use on multiple PC's

This is a discussion on External Hard Drive use on multiple PC's within the Hard Drive Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi, I currently have 2 internal HDD's that I want to backup. I am looking to purchase an external HDD


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Old 02-15-2019, 03:15 PM   #1
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Hi, I currently have 2 internal HDD's that I want to backup. I am looking to purchase an external HDD to backup those drives, specifically this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ODEGWN8/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

and I wanted to know, how can I format this new external drive so that once I save all those files, I can use them on a different PC?

Also, if I just buy an external HDD enclosure and take those 2 internal drives out, would I be able to use those drives in that enclosure on a different PC?

Thanks.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:09 PM   #2
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External Drives com Pre-Formatted NTFS you do not need to Format them. As long as the PC you are attaching the drive to is a Windows PC (ie) not a Mac, or Linux you can use your external drive on any Windows computer. You also can attach your internal HDD in the Enclosure and attach that to a Windows PC and use it as a Backup Drive or restore files from it to that Windows computer
Mac OSX and Linux will also recognize your drive, but will have problems reading and writing to an NTFS volume unless you are in Windows. If wanting to share files from a Windows computer to a Mac or Linux, format it exFAT.
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Old 02-16-2019, 08:09 AM   #3
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Many external drive enclosures don't use a standard format. If you swap drives from the enclosure to the PC you'll often get a message saying the drive needs to be formatted.

Pretty much any OS can read a drive in an enclosure, so swapping it to another computer works fine, but you won't often be able to remove the drive and install it in a computer.
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Old 02-16-2019, 09:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendallt View Post
Many external drive enclosures don't use a standard format. If you swap drives from the enclosure to the PC you'll often get a message saying the drive needs to be formatted.

Pretty much any OS can read a drive in an enclosure, so swapping it to another computer works fine, but you won't often be able to remove the drive and install it in a computer.
If by "format" you mean the filesystem (e.g NTFS, EXFAT, HFS etc) then you should know that every OS has a preferred filesystem. There is no such thing as a standard format, but if there is, which one would that be? If you removed the actual disk from an enclosure and attach it to a PC, you may or may not be able to access its contents depending on which OS is in use. For example, a drive formated in HFS using a Mac OS PC would trigger such a prompt when connected to a Windows system because Windows doesn't have native support for the HFS filesystem. Likewise for Mac OS and NTFS formatted drives.

If by "format" you mean the type of physical connector that is used in some external HDDs, then it's true that not all external HDDs can be removed from their enclosures and attached directly to a PC because some manufacturers use a proprietary connector. WD external drives are especially known for this.

If you're implying that any OS can DETECT an external drive then that's true. However, its contents may not be accessible depending on the filesystem it was formatted in.
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:14 AM   #5
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What I mean is that if you install a new drive in an external housing, format it using your PC, then remove it from the housing and install it directly into the PC, you have a very good chance that the PC will not be able to read the drive. (with the message: You must format this drive before you can use it)

The PC does not read the external drive directly, all reads and writes are passed through the controller card in the external housing. Not all external controllers operate exactly the same as the PC controller and produce read errors (or the format error)

The only way to tell is to try it. Enable hot swap, connect the bare drive and see if you can read it.

Edit:
I see the problem less often with newer enclosures, but still see it often enough that I don't count on being able to swap PC>enclosure.
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendallt View Post
What I mean is that if you install a new drive in an external housing, format it using your PC, then remove it from the housing and install it directly into the PC, you have a very good chance that the PC will not be able to read the drive. (with the message: You must format this drive before you can use it)
That has never occurred to me as long as the drive is still functional. It has happened on some occasions whereby the disk is faulty, but detected by the PC (i.e there is communication between the controller/firmware and the PC, but the actual storage medium/magnetic platter is inaccessible).

Quote:
The PC does not read the external drive directly, all reads and writes are passed through the controller card in the external housing. Not all external controllers operate exactly the same as the PC controller and produce read errors (or the format error)

The only way to tell is to try it. Enable hot swap, connect the bare drive and see if you can read it.

Edit:
I see the problem less often with newer enclosures, but still see it often enough that I don't count on being able to swap PC>enclosure.
The enclosure simply has a SATA-USB bridge. The logic control board (where the controller chip is) is attached to the disk drive itself, not the enclosure (just Google it). I use enclosures (salvaged from dead external HDDs all the time to clone clients' drives from my laptop and put them into their laptops where they work just fine, without the need to reformat them or Windows prompting for a reformat.
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
if you install a new drive in an external housing, format it using your PC, then remove it from the housing and install it directly into the PC, you have a very good chance that the PC will not be able to read the drive
As stated, I have no idea where you got this information. Unless the format didn't finish correctly. You always can format a drive in an enclosure and place it in a computer and it will work fine. I do it all the time.
Quote:
Many external drive enclosures don't use a standard format.
Also as stated, Enclosures don't have Formats if you mean File system (ie) NTFS, FAT32 etc. The enclosure has a SATA to USB bridge controller in the enclosure. It doesn't matter what Format the HDD is, it will be read by whatever computer the drive is plugged into (ie) HFS+ for Mac, NTFS for Windows, FAT32 for either and Smart TV's etc.
The OP's question has been answered. If he buys a new External USB HDD it will not need to be formatted before using on a Windows computer as it comes pre-Formatted NTFS. His old drives will work fine in an Enclosure. We suggest using a USB Enclosure with it's own power adapter to help it get it recognized by the computer easier.
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:59 AM   #8
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I do it all the time as well, I have 4 externals, 2 internals. 2 of the externals work fine swapping drives between them and the PC, the other two only work with drives formatted with them and can't be used in the PC or another external without reformatting. Those two are older ones though.
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Old 02-16-2019, 04:36 PM   #9
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Either The drives or the enclosures are going bad in those drives. I have 10 year old or older docks and USB Adapters that work with any drive without having to reformat.
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonessx666 View Post

Many external drive enclosures don't use a standard format. If you swap drives from the enclosure to the PC you'll often get a message saying the drive needs to be formatted.
Many? Often?

Can you list the make and model number of a few of these please?
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonessx666 View Post
Many external drive enclosures don't use a standard format. If you swap drives from the enclosure to the PC you'll often get a message saying the drive needs to be formatted.
Is there any examples you can mention.
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:55 PM   #12
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I have also used external drive bays.. either made specifically as that, or from old dead external drives as Stance said.. ALL are only an interface from Sata to usb and the only variation is that some purpose made ddrive bays have a weird ident... but I have never seen any that will not allow a PC to see a drive formatted in the drive bay.
The most common reason for that error message that I have observed is due to incorrect unmounting of the drive/drive bay.
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Old 02-21-2019, 10:12 AM   #13
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I have two here that don't work for swapping to the PC

As mentioned, it may be something with the enclosures, but I have experienced the same thing with other enclosures.
I always run external drives. My operating systems are all on externals, (esata and USB) common/shared data on internals
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Old 02-21-2019, 10:25 AM   #14
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The enclosure/bay/dock has nothing to do with the filesystem of the drive in use with it. NTFS will still remain NTFS whether the drive is in an enclosure or attached directly to pc. Improper unmounting can and will corrupt the filesystem, hence the prompt to reformat.
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Old 02-21-2019, 10:57 AM   #15
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like I say, been using externals for years, I know how to eject drives....
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendallt View Post
like I say, been using externals for years, I know how to eject drives....
Doesn't matter. Fact remains, enclosures have no filesystem or "format" and as such do not affect the drive's filesystem in any way so as to require a reformat when removed from it. Something else is wrong and it's not the "format" of the enclosure!
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:41 PM   #17
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Since you've only said it like 4 times and no-one, including myself has said you're wrong, I'll just assume you like repeating yourself.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:50 PM   #18
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The flip side of your comment is no one said he is wrong because they agree and repeating the obvious is not for his benefit.
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:25 PM   #19
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LOL, I never said he was wrong, just stated the fact that I have had several external housing that would NOT allow swapping drives from housing to PC etc.

If you need refreshing, read post 13.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:56 PM   #20
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We have answered the OP's question and have veered way off topic. Unless the OP has anything else to say, please close this thread.
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