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I am considering purchasing a Western Digital Elements 2 TB External Desktop Hard Drive (USB 2.0, Black) from, and because it has over a thousand reviews, there are a reasonable amount from linux, specifically ubuntu users, and while most list as five star, some said it needed reformatting.

I am not worried about reformatting, but want to know it will be accessible at all.

Is compatibility with 10.04/10 a guarantee of compatibility with 11.10?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Compatibility with an older version is never a guarantee, but I don't see why an external hard drive wouldn't work out of the box, especially if it works on an older version of Ubuntu.

Anyway, in the worst case you can always install the drivers included with Ubuntu 10.04 or 10.10.

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Some of these are not formatted properly, so can't be written too, but can be formatted from ubuntu. Other hard-drives can come with software that you have to use to "unlock" them, and these generally are windows only. – Lewis Goddard Dec 2 '11 at 13:40

I assume that the drive will come with NTFS (modern Windows file sytem). If you want to use it on Linux only, I'd use ext4, which works since 2006 or so.

I have a WD Elements 500 GB drive which I use since 10.04 and it just works -- there is no reason it should not to.

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I have to be able to access under windows too, so ext4 is a no-go. Apparently some were badly formatted, but the rest seems all good. – Lewis Goddard Dec 2 '11 at 11:06
I am not sure about the size, but FAT32 works with every computer, just the partition and file size is limited (4 TB and 4 GB I think). So NTFS should work, I was able to write to it by default, the FUSE / NTFS-3G drivers seem to be mature now. The other way would be to install a ext3 or ext4 driver on Windows. – Martin Ueding Dec 2 '11 at 11:09
I didn't even think of making windows able to access ext3/4. Can that be done? *googles – Lewis Goddard Dec 2 '11 at 13:41
I've seen drivers for it, but I have not tested it myself. – Martin Ueding Dec 2 '11 at 18:17

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