i work for a company with a 'Mac' department (they are creative/graphics). At the moment they are using an old server mac with a shared Hard drive formatted in HFS+; i would like to buy a NAS with full compatibility with HFS+ partition. I know Synology and QNAP offers compatibility with Mac World (using AFP), but i'm sure they use EXT filesystem as main partition. Is this correct to use Ext partition either for 'existing' Mac datas ?

Thank you!

  • EXT works just fine with Macs, but transferring data from HFS+ may cause losing metadata saved in extended file attributes. If you don't care about such metadata, you could just use these NAS devices as is.
    – lupincho
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 18:19
  • 2
    Would you please make clear why you really need HFS?
    – bot47
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 6:48
  • AlanJC, may I also ask wether it is possible to store mac specific libraries such as Itunes- Iphoto / Aperture libraries as well as Imovie / Final Cut Videos on the (AFP capable) NAS, to be accessed by local machines on the network upon request and in a Raid 5 configuration for both MAC and windows platforms? Many thanks, Casey
    – user34327
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 8:58

4 Answers 4


You don't say how the server mac is sharing the HFS+ formatted drive. I would suspect it is AFP in which case the NAS drive format is largely irrelevant.

The NAS will store files on it's storage in whatever format is best for the OS of the NAS, and expose those files through network shares in a single or a variety of formats. The client machines mount the shares and should be unaware of the underlying storage (just as they will be unaware that it will likely be a RAID configuration of some sort)

Synology, QNAP, Netgear, Drobo and many many others all adopt this approach.

The major factor is getting a NAS supplier who fully supports AFP and does not just see it as an afterthought to be tagged on with a bog standard install of the AFP packages which may be out of date or have not been tested or tuned. The introduction of Lion saw a number of NAS devices with difficulties sharing AFP until they could be patched. Of course during this period the users could have switched to using CIFS shares and keep going.


I recently needed to replace an old NAS at home, and the cheapest option for my requirement was actually to build one and install FreeNAS on it.

You can add as many drives as your chassis will take, configure them to be RAID, mirrored, or independent, use UFS/ZFS on the partitions, and configure your shares as Windows, CIFS, or AFP with individual user accounts, groups, or getting permissions from an LDAP server.

Once you're set-up (which takes about 10 minutes from the CD) you're ready to go with a web interface which controls everything else.

While it's not HFS+, it is AFP capable out of the box so to speak, and works perfectly on my network with 2 Apple computers, and a Windows computer. It contains all of the resource fork information (meta data), and of course you can copy any existing data to it from anywhere else on the network.

Performance on a box like this is also going to be a lot better than most low to mid range NAS boxes too, which may be important with multiple users accessing large files. I backed up 580gb in just over an hour on a gigabit LAN connection.

  • AlanJC, can i ask you "How works search files ?" using FreeNas ? Because we have a lot (2k) of small size files and we need a good 'search' functionality
    – stighy
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 14:05
  • You wouldn't normally use a NAS to find the files, that's down to the system accessing the NAS. I don't think there's a way to make Spotlight index network drives reliably, but there are many tools out there which can do this. The downside is that each client would need to run it. One that I've seen in use is EasyFind, but there are many more which might be better suited to your needs. devontechnologies.com/products/freeware.html
    – AlanJC
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 16:52

Since the Mac OS family is the only one (that I'm aware of at least) that uses HFS, you'll probably have to run the NAS on a Mac. Properly configured, a Mac Mini isn't a bad option, but your costs may be approximately double of a comparable Linux-based NAS which uses EXT.

If your goal is to use the existing drive or clone it to a new drive for longevity, you may find that many linux-based options support this use-case. diskutil indeed has an hfsplus module in some flavors, but YMMV.

If, on the other hand you are attempting to clone it to the boot disk, your only option is to use a Mac.


QNAP NAS support backup over USB for the external drive HFS+ partitions but only on MBR (aka msdos) formatted drives. the GPT based drives with the HFS+ partition are not supported. and "unknown partition" message will appear in the "Storage and Snapshots" once the drive gets plugged in USB port.

this leads to 2 issues:

  • not possible to backup the drive taken directly from the iMac/MBP as they all formatted with GPT partition table by default
  • not possible to arrange HFS+ partition bigger than 1.9Gb as the MBR partition size limit

QNAP NAS doesn't support USB connected external drive APFS partitions. once connected, the "unknown partition" message will appear in the "Storage and Snapshots"

  • There is a difference between the disk format used by the NAS and the protocol used to access it. Only the latter is relevant when accessing a NAS from macOS, can you please clarify how boot record formats matter here?
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 11 at 10:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .