I have a 2TB external hard drive that will primarily be used for backing up important documents and storing big files from an Ubuntu-based distros.

I have had issues before with NTFS as a broken file system would often require to use Windows to fix it, which definitely rules it out for me.

Is there a file system that would be suited for this use, while being both interoperable (i.e. usable on OSX, Windows and GNU/Linux) and (ideally) an open standard?

  • ...and I just realised FAT32 is not acceptable because of its file-naming restrictions. – stragu Mar 21 '17 at 22:59
  • I think the answer is "no", unfortunately. FAT32 is the closest but as you've identified it isn't even close to ideal. – seanlano Mar 21 '17 at 23:17
  • The reason that you had problems with NTFS is because you were probably mounting a Windows C: drive, and fast startup and hibernation were enabled. If you're going to dual-boot with Ubuntu, they need to be disabled. – heynnema Mar 21 '17 at 23:21
  • @heynnema I was actually referring to a corrupt external NTFS hard drive that needed me to use chkdsk on a Windows computer. I want to be able to use GNU/Linux tools in case of problems, which is why I'd rather use a non-proprietary file system. – stragu Mar 22 '17 at 8:31
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    That's exactly correct. All 3 need to be done to "fix" a NTFS disk that won't mount in Ubuntu. Disable fast startup, hibernation, and do a chkdsk. I still think that NTFS is your best best . The Ubuntu NTFS tools really shouldn't be used. XFS or BTRFS might be something to check out, although I don't know if they're compatible with Windows/Mac without special drivers. – heynnema Mar 22 '17 at 14:06

Have you ever tried Exfat?

It's compatible with Windows and OSX, and can be added to Linux by running:

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

It's very popular on sd cards etc.

Another option is UDF but I've never used it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Disk_Format

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    Looks interesting, but shame it is proprietary and is not natively supported by the Linux kernel. – stragu Mar 21 '17 at 23:01
  • Not natively supported in Linux is better than not natively supported in the other 2. I'd trust exfat on linux more than I'd trust the likes of ext2 on Windows. The other option for 'ootb' support is fat32 but file sizes are limited to <4gb. Apparently UDF is compatible but I've never used it en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Disk_Format . Edited my answer to include this option. – Will Mar 21 '17 at 23:10
  • UDF is used on CDs and DVDs, I don't think it works well for rewritable media like hard drives. CD-RW is a thing, but that is different to a HDD. – seanlano Mar 21 '17 at 23:16
  • The plain build is usable on any type of media, but as I said I've never used it so I have no idea about performance/stability/robustness – Will Mar 21 '17 at 23:24

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