I have a Mac Mini that I'm using as a media server. I just put together an external RAID enclosure and I'd like to format it as HFS+, primarily so I can use it for Time Machine backups. 75% of everything I do is with OS X or iOS, but I do have a Windows machine, and the majority of my friends and family use Windows. I'm not real clear on how network sharing protocols work. I know in order to share a volume with Windows (without installing some additional softare on windows) I have to set it up as an SMB share rather than AFP.

Will I be able to format the drive as HFS+ and create an SMB share for my Windows machines? Does the drive format matter in this case?

(The only reason I'm not just trying it is because the external drive is already formatted with an exFat partition and already has a fair amount of data on it. In order to reformat to HFS+ I would have to first sync all that data somewhere else, reformat, then sync it back - a task I'd rather not undertake if I won't be able to get the results I need.)


Attached to an OS X Server you can use the RAID-volume formatted to HFS+ or ExFAT to create shares for Windows clients.

After enabling the share it is accessible via AFP and SMB by default:

Example screenshot OS X Server 3.2.2 Mavericks:

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Example screenshot OS X Server 5.0.15 El Capitan HFS+:

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Example screenshot OS X Server 5.0.15 El Capitan ExFAT:

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Both shares are accessible as usual (Data:HFS+ formatted/data2: ExFAT formatted):

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  • Great, thanks. One question - if I leave the volume formatted as ExFAT, can I still allocate Time Machine space using OSX Server? I am of the understanding that Time Machine ''required'' and HFS(+) formatted volume. – Jordan Mar 7 '16 at 20:56
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    @JordanBondo I have to test this. I'll report back. You can't use an ExFAT volume to backup your OS X server locally. – klanomath Mar 7 '16 at 21:10
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    @JordanBondo I haven't been able to use an ExFAT volume as shared Time Machine backup location. You would have to add a r/w sparse bundle.dmg, mount & share this and use it as an additional share for networked Time Machine backups – klanomath Mar 7 '16 at 21:56
  • That's what I thought. I'm doing that currently, but I've had TimeMachine flip out a couple different times when using a sparsebundle, so I'm trying to get away from that. I think I'll just reformat as HFS+ and create an SMB share for lame old Windows. I'll check all this out when I get home & accept your answer when I can confirm this all works for me. Thanks again! – Jordan Mar 7 '16 at 22:20

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