I want to enable write-access in a Mac OS X installation for an NTFS partition in an external hard disk.

I don't want to switch to FAT32 for performance reasons. An exFAT partition sounds good, but it's not compatible with older versions of Mac OS X. I'm also not sure of its performance as compared to NTFS.

I've searched all over for what is a good solution. But the more I read, the more confused I get.


  • Native hack to enable write access (unsupported, reviewed as unstable)
  • NTFS-3G (slow speed, looks abandoned)
  • Seagate NTFS driver for Mac (probably works for Seagate drives only, not helpful in my case)


  • Paragon NTFS (better speeds, but some bad reviews)
  • Tuxera NTFS (seems generally more favored)

I came across others here and there but they are rarely talked about.

I have a WD hard disk (1TB) that I plan to make two unequal partitions in. One large partition (99-99.9%) for HFS+ (mainly used with Mac OS X), and a small partition (0.1-1%) for Windows compatibility.

The large HFS+ partition will be for the main data storage and Time Machine backups. The smaller partition will be for quick data transfer from Mac to Windows or vice versa but not for permanent data storage. A portable HFS+ reader software like HFSExplorer will be in the Windows-readable partition to help read the HFS+ partition on a Windows computer.

I would like your recommendations mostly focused on the smaller Windows-compatible partition.


  • What is the easiest solution to enable write access to NTFS? (easy means one-click install, or just a couple of scriptable commands - assume novice user)
  • What is the most stable and/or most outperforming solution to do the same? (not necessarily the easiest)
  • What solution just works? (no hassles, drive always shows up on Mac desktop - not necessarily same as above, but preferred)
  • Is purchasing Tuxera or Paragon worth it? If yes, which one is better?
  • Should I just switch to exFAT and just forget that I even thought about NTFS? This would mean the drive would be writable to all modern Windows and Mac (no need to consider Linux) without needing any software - but would be dead to anything old.
  • Should I switch to FAT32 since it's just a tiny partition that is not used for much? This should not affect the performance of the drive or the other HFS+ partition.
  • While you're at it, what about the partition table? MBR or GPT, or something else?
  • Finally, any other software recommended for reading (or even writing) HFS+ partition in Windows? I dislike that HFSExplorer requires Java, which cannot be guaranteed to be available or up-to-date.
  • This is kind of a mess here. I see your first three points here as requirements for an NTFS driver. The rest though feels less like a request for file systems than a NTFS driver question. And a windows driver for HFS. Might be worth cutting down the scope and splitting this into two or even three questions. Jun 6 '16 at 2:13
  • @ADTC: Moderator here. Interesting topic but indeed there are several questions here. Please limit yourself to one question per post, thanks! The first two questions, and the last one, would be on-topic here. Also, please avoid accusing people of avoid a particular disorder, it is not a nice thing to do, especially for people who actually have this disorder, cheers!
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 6 '16 at 11:19
  • This is an old question. I don't see the need to do such a drastic clean-up now - splitting into three or more separate posts just for the sake of organisation. Just archive it or mark it as "not a model question" if you want. You have that moderator feature anyway.
    – ADTC
    Jun 7 '16 at 16:51

I use Paragon NTFS and love it. And on the Windows side I purchased Mediafour MacDrive. Both of them worked right out of the box installations.

They work very well, though I have not tried Tuxera.

It is best to keep HFS+ on the Mac portion and NTFS on the Windows side. Their 'native tongues' so to speak. They work best on their own turf.

GPT can handle larger sized drives. It is up to you on that one. Either MBR or GPT will be fine from the getgo.

FAT32 gets rid of any security and really like you said is only for small drives. The bonus of course is that it is compatible with everything.

I have used exFAT & EXT3FS on external drives but every now and then one gets corrupted and one or the other OS has issues reading it afterwards... usually the Mac side. Windows tends to be able to read it anyway.

My setup:

I have a MacBook Pro dual booting via BootCamp and running rEFIt (haven't bothered to update to rEFInd or other options because it works great with Win8.1 and OS X Mavericks).

  • If I want to seamlessly transfer files between Mac (most common flavors of OS X) and Windows (XP and above supporting GPT) in a small partition (the 0.1-1% partition), would you recommend FAT32 for the partition as it offers maximum compatibility without third-party installations? And the GPT partition table can hold a FAT32 partition alongside an HFS+ partition, right?
    – ADTC
    Sep 12 '14 at 2:55
  • 32-Bit WinXP cannot do GPT so it would have to be either a 64-bit version of XP or use MBR. The Mac disk utility can create a Fat32 partition that can be read by both. If you are using WinXP then Fat32 would work fine. Sep 12 '14 at 3:03
  • There is no reason why you can't add a Fat32 partition. That is correct. Sep 12 '14 at 3:10
  • I think I will go with a small FAT32 partition for the occasional transfer to and from Windows, but have the other partition as HFS+. I don't require an NTFS partition as the disk is mainly going to be used with Mac (say 99% of the time) and that would be a waste of space. Anyway, thank you for the input. I'm only concerned about MBR/GPT issue as I read that Time Machine backups are more likely to fail with MBR but as XP 64-bit and everything after that supports GPT, it shouldn't be a huge issue as we're already moving away from XP. And I'm off to figure out limiting Time Machine disk usage.
    – ADTC
    Sep 12 '14 at 3:26

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