Can you set up a Windows XP PC that had a HFS+ partition to share with Macs

We run a Windows network and have two graphic designers on Macs running OSX 10.4 that are on the domain and can access SMB shares. I'm looking at trying to increase storage space for our Macs.

We have also run out of storage space for our backup system, ShadowProtect Server, in that the backup images are now too large for the current backup host. The current host can't hold any more drives.

Ideally, what I want to do is kill two birds with one stone. I'm thinking of buying and setting up a PC with Windows as a host for our nightly backup files. I'll load it with HDDs and partiion it in half. I want to have one partiion as NTFS (which will host our backup files), and format the other partiion as HFS+ to host 'working' Mac files exclusively.

I'm aware that FAT32 is avilable, but I've heard that FAT32 doesn't do so well for Mac resource forks on working files. So I was hoping to keep that partition HFS+. This obviously won't be visible on the Windows OS, so I don't know if or how you could format it and make it available as a Mac share.

If possible, I'd like to avoid using a NAS device but I'm open to the option.

So I guess the question is, can you have a Windows PC with a shared HFS+ partiion available for Mac working files? If so, how? And if not, are there better/other suggestions?

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You can easily format these disks with NTFS and then share the drives. The mac's will be able to read and write the network shares without issues. You should also not have any issues with backing up to these new drives too.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
If you must use HFS+ then download GParted ( This will allow you to create the 2 partitions you require.
Yes, you can use GParted (one of my favorite software packages) to create HPS+ partitions, but he wants to run Windows on this box. Without running other software after you install Windows - Windows will be unable to access these disks if you format them the HPS+.
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"So I was hoping to keep that partition HFS+. This obviously won't be visible on the Windows OS, so I don't know if or how you could format it and make it available as a Mac share."

The question doesn't ask that though, in fact the user already knows that. They just wanted to know a way of doing it. GParted will accomplish what they are after.
millsdisplayAuthor Commented:
Great, so it looks like GParted will be able to run on Windows and I could use that to create a HFS+ partition...

However, how to I get access to that partition from a Mac existing elsewhere on the network? Will it be visible browsing the network.. ie I find the computer name/IP and try to connect with it and it'll come up as a drive/partition I could access from the Mac, even if it's not visible in Windows?
No. You cannot setup the any type of network shares if it is not visiable in Windows. Just format the dirve using NTFS. Once you make network shares on it the macs will be able to access the shares and write to them if granted the correct permissions.
Good luck.
GParted doesn't run on Windows, it is a bootable CD. It actually runs in Linux. Run it first before installing Windows and set up both partitions. Then install Windows to the appropriate partition (GParted is so much quicker at formatting than Windows).

I have no idea how you would share it. I have never used Mac so I don't know how it works I'm afraid. I'm guessing you would need to connect to it using an Admin share (e.g. C$ in Windows) and then share it out to everyone else.
millsdisplayAuthor Commented:
Yeah I just read that GParted is a bootable ISO, have downloaded that now.

However it doesn't really solve my problem, if the partition is HFS+, then even Admin shares won't be able to access it because it won't have picked up a drive letter in Windows. Does that mean that I won't actually be able to access the HFS+ partition from a networked Mac?

Andrew_aj1 - you've said use NTFS, I've heard NTFS won't be able to use the resource forks of Mac 'working' files, ie the Macs won't be able to read the embedded info (such as embedded fonts) from working files on NTFS shares due to file resource forks not functioning correctly on NTFS partitions... is this not the case?

I have never had any issue working with files on my network share from Server 2003 formatted using NTFS. Your only other option for this would be external drives on the Mac computers themselves formatted and shared how you would like.
millsdisplayAuthor Commented:
I'm trying to avoid using external drives in general, I don't like relying on users to maintain the drive correctly... I'd prefer to keep things pretty much centralised (or at least not at the user's desk). I only want to avoid NAS boxes because they need restarting every so often (and I'll get complaints about that) and I don't really like their interfaces for administration. But I'll do what's necessary in the end.

I'm looking at a product called MacDrive 7, which enables Windows to partition and format using HFS+, and also allows Windows to then Read and Write files to that partition. It's $50 though, but could be useful.. as long as there's a way then to share that partition for Macs to use. How can I connect the Macs to that partition over a network?

I'm starting to think it's not do-able.

What is wrong with using XP? It should not matter what file system you use. As I stated before I use mac to access and work on files that is shared on a networked drive formatted as NTFS. You access the share using SMB so it should not matter what it is formatted as. I have even accessed files shared on a linux box formatted with EXT2. As long as you have the correct permissions set you should not have any issues.

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millsdisplayAuthor Commented:
So do you use 'design' files with embedded fonts, etc, and store those files on the NTFS partition... and those embedded fonts, etc, are visible if opened on another Mac?
Define 'design' files please. What is the exact program you are trying to use? Also have you thought about buying a server from Apple? This may be a good solution - though it will cost a bit in the beginning.
millsdisplayAuthor Commented:
Things like Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator CS3 files, or any of the CS3 design software. Graphic design packages. When saving files in some of these packages, you can embed the fonts within the saved files. This information is held within the file in a resource fork (ie it's a file that also points to (or kind of 'contains') other files). On Macs, a file with resource forks only shows up as one file, but when viewed on an NTFS partition from windows, it loses the links to the forked files... at least that's the way I understand it.

An Apple server will blow out my budget something fierce. Ultimately it's the best long term solution, but there's no way Finance Dept would okay the purchase... having difficulty even justifying a NAS box, which, once loaded with server-grade HDDs will probably be around $1600-$2000. I can pick up a PC with the same drives for about $200 less so I wanted to investigate that solution as a possibility due to the flexibility of having a full OS.
Unfortunately I do not have any of these software packages installed on my mac right now to test. I am trying to find someone with this issue online though and so far have been unable. If this is the case though your only solution for now would be external drives until you can save up for an Apple server.
Good luck.
millsdisplayAuthor Commented:
Yep, I've just been talking to some friends in the design industry, and they say that when a Mac creates a design file that saves to an NTFS share, *as long as the file is opened with another Mac*, it works fine. No loss of fonts, everything works normally. When those files are opened with a windows PC, the embedded data is lost, but that's not an issue for us because we'll only be opening the 'working' files with Macs.

Looks like an NTFS share will be fine for what we need.

Thanks andrew_aj1, I'll allocate the points now :)
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