I'd like to know how to format a 2 TB hard drive so that FreeBSD, Linux and Windows can all access it and write to it. I've tried using my own brain on this one and making a singular partition on it and creating a FAT32 file system on it, as I know a FAT32 file system on a USB means virtually all operating systems can utilize it. The problem is that Windows 10 doesn't detect it anymore.

  • 1
    Use exfat – Ipor Sircer Sep 18 '18 at 3:09
  • Are you sure? I did it and Windows 10 doesn't seem to recognize it. The only drive listed for it is C:\, which is my SSD. – BH2017 Sep 18 '18 at 6:55
  • Is this to allow several machines to access the disk or are you multi-booting a single machine? If it's several machines, set up a Samba share. – Kusalananda Sep 18 '18 at 7:35

You can use UDF. It is finicky to get settings that all OSes are happy to deal with though. The format-udf is a reliable way to get the blocksizes right. (Note: FreeBSD only has read-only support, and only for older UDF versions)

It is widely supported, doesn't have FAT32's filesize limitations or exFAT's patent issues. It supports Unix-style permissions.

Size limit is 2TiB though, unless the disk uses native 4K sectors.

Windows XP can read, but won't write to UDF on hard-disks. Later Windows versions has better support. (FreeBSD seems to be lagging behind with read-only support, for ancient versions only though...)

FAT32 remains an option (your issue with it is likely quickly rectified in Disk Management or by fixing the partition type byte (assuming MBR)).


Use NTFS. exFAT isn't supported in FreeBSD, as well as ext4, which is also unsupported in Windows. However, both FreeBSD and Linux have decent implementation of NTFS via ntfs-3g.

  • Something seriously funky must be going on as I just created a NTFS filesystem on this 2TB hard drive with ntfs-3g, and Windows 10 doesn't recognize it. I know NTFS is the filesystem of Windows 10, but still it's not detected. – BH2017 Sep 18 '18 at 18:43
  • Fire up diskmgmt.msc and see if Windows can see the drive at least. – arrowd Sep 18 '18 at 20:44
  • I gave up thanks to that and unix.stackexchange.com/questions/469856/… and decided to simply use a ext4 partition and say to .... with Windows. – BH2017 Sep 18 '18 at 20:49

I'm using exFAT for my external drive. For me exFAT still widely compatible then other FS. I've been using it for Linux, Windows 8/10, FreeBSD and macOS X. Problem will arise if the drive connected to FreeBSD so I have to follow this excellent tutorial HowTo mount a extFAT filesystem on FreeBSD. It work Flawlessly, READ and WRITE all works.

To format exFAT on windows 10 is easy just do these simple step and you're done:

  • open cmd
  • type format F: /FS:exFAT, change F: with your external drive letter.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.