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I want to use my Passport mini-external Hard drive to store simple files (i.e. avi's, .mp3's, etc) from my Ubuntu desk top, and be able to access them from my Windows 7 laptop as well.

I believe it is formatted as FAT32, but the hard drive may also be disk protected, making formating the hard drive difficult. Would the drive need to be in NTFS to work on both? is it even possible?

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Whatever "protection" there is may make it hard to access files on the drive now, but shouldn't hinder formatting it. You can use GParted to format the drive in Ubuntu, if Disk Utility doesn't work.

FAT32 is likely fine for your needs. You can only have files under 4 GiB in size on a FAT32 system, though.

NTFS will also work.

There are drivers to access ext2, ext3, and ext4 filesystems on Windows, but if the purpose of this drive is to share data between the systems, you may as well use FAT32 or NTFS. Then you don't have to install any new drivers on any system. Plus, this will let you read and write to the drive on other Windows systems.

In case it's a relevant consideration for you, Mac OS X (without added drivers) will read and write FAT32 and will read but not write NTFS.

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First at all backup all your data. Then just open the Disk Utility Tools. In Ubuntu 12.04 press the supper button and write disk then click on the corresponding application icon. After that, the application window will be opened. Now you just need to search for your drive in the left panel. Look at the volumes picture to check if more than one partition exist in your external drive. If so, try deleting all the partitions one by one, and then create a new one and format it. At this point, in order to allow both systems to read and write, you can choose FAT32 or NTFS. I personally prefer NTFS because FAT does not support files larger than 4GB size.

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Yes NTFS is native for Windows and read and writeable for ubuntu. Ext2/3/4 can be made readable by windows with a program named ext2fs.

But the password protection for wd passports does just work for windows.

There is a quite complicated workaround: Start a Windows Virtual Machine and connect the drive to it, then unlock it and switch it back to ubuntu. I own such a drive myself, if I find occasion for intercepting the commands the unlocker.exe uses for the drive I will post it in the ubuntu mainforum.

It will not work over standard ata security commands, as they are not passed over usb.

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