So, I bought a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD thinking I can just plop the old PC files (pictures, schoolwork, old code repositories) onto it and then use the SSD with my new Macbook Pro. Turns out the format matters.

I did some digging around, and it seems that most people recommend ExFAT for cross-platform external drives. However, after reading this thread and running the Blackmagicdesign Disk Speed Test on both formats (APFS is ~130MB/s faster), it seems that APFS has more benefits if I want to just use this drive with my Macbook Pro, which will probably be the case.

I am thinking that the best strategy is to partition my SSD into one half for ExFAT and then the other for APFS. So, I would write a portion of my PC files into the ExFAT partition, copy it into my Macbook, then copy it back into the APFS partition. Once I've done this will all my PC files, I would delete the ExFAT partition. Would this work?

Also, when would I want case-sensitivity? When would I want encryption (I know security but it seems that no one really does it)? If I do encryption, can I edit files directly on the SSD?

Or should I just ditch all this and use the Windows Migration Assistant to transfer my files, format all of my SSD for APFS, and then copy the files onto my SSD?

1 Answer 1


I would certainly recommend encryption if you are using the disk anywhere outside of a secure place at home. Apple drive encryption will simply ask you for a one-time password for each encrypted partition when you connect/mount it. If you wish you can store it in your keychain.

Unless you need very very fast read/write or have a slow machine, encryption is certainly worth it to protect your files.

It sounds like you have plenty of options for getting all the files into one volume. I tend to use exfat for compatibility between Linux/windows/Mac but if you foresee only Mac use from now on, might be worth going for APFS as you say.

For transferring your files you could:

  1. use migration assistant - very user friendly

  2. transfer over a private wired or WiFi network using windows file sharing - also simple and maybe neater for those more tech-minded.

    On win: (enable in control panel>printer and file sharing) On mac: open network tab in finder and windows computer should appear

  3. split disk partitions - great if you don’t have the right cables for the other stuff (and potentially as fast depending on USB and Ethernet standards you have on the 2 machines)

If you do make a split partition to transfer you can simply resize your APFS using diskutil via the terminal. The command: mergepartitions will keep the first partition and then extend it into and overwrite any remaining partitions, see documentation here: https://www.dssw.co.uk/reference/diskutil.html

This way you don’t need to format the whole disk to then back everything up again on the SSD.

Hope that helps.

  • Thanks for the clear options! If I do APFS encryption, can I edit files directly on the SSD?
    – joshua
    Jan 5, 2022 at 17:51

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