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After a couple of years of delay, I've upgraded to High Sierra.

Now, I have an external disk used for backup, with the following layout:

/dev/disk6 (external, physical):

#:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *2.0 TB    disk6
1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB  disk6s1
2:                 Apple_APFS Container disk8         80.4 GB   disk6s2
3: 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001               1.9 TB    disk6s3

Partition #2 was an HFS+ file system that I've converted (by re-formatting) to APFS and contains a clone of my macOS partition.

Partition #3 is used as a VeraCrypt container, formatted as HFS+. So far, I was unable to reformat it to APFS because the Disk Utility tool complains that "a whole disk is needed" for the operation. Also the command line failed.

At this point, I think I've understood that the operation is not possible. Not a big deal, since this a backup disk (with rsync) and APFS would bring only a minor improvement. I'd only like to know whether I've understood it right or not.

  • I do not now anything about VeraCrypt, but a partition with a GUID type of 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001 looks suspiciously like an error. – David Anderson Jun 2 at 11:29
  • It isn't. I manually set that UUID to be sure that the partition is left alone by the operating system (i.e. it doesn't try to mount it as a regular filesystem - Veracrypt needs to raw manage the partition as a container). I'm not aware of any official UUID for Veracrypt partitions, so I used that value. – Fabrizio Giudici Jun 4 at 11:44

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