How to format a new SS external hard drive

Hi all, and Happy New Year! I recently had a $750 external Micron SS hard drive fail. They sent me a new one, and I now need to erase and reformat the drive to prepare to copy to it. The question is about which file system to select. In the past I’ve always selected Extended Journaled, but I see that there is now an option for APFS. I read about it and am not sure I understand, although it seems that I should use APFS for any operating system later than 10.13. I have a MacBook Pro and Big Sur operating system 11.6.2. Which one do you suggest I use? I just wanted to be sure before plunging in. Thanks so much!

Hi Christal,

I’ve still been using Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for external hard drives even with the new operating systems and have yet to run into any issues. With that said, my research undoubtedly points to APFS being the better choice moving forward.

I’ll be switching to using APFS for all of my future drive formatting and I recommend you do the same.

Here is a great article from Apple detailing the differences: File system formats available in Disk Utility on Mac - Apple Support

Happy New Year!

This is super dorky but I believe that the Mac OS favors the APFS file structure for Solid State Drives (SSD) but the older OS Extended (HPFS) file structure is still the preferred setup for a traditional spinning magnetic type drive.

David Marx

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That IS dorky! And that’s kind of what I gleaned from reading about it online. I formatted my SS drive in APFS and it’s working great! Thanks! Hey, David…do you do remote computer tech support? If so, please let me know. Thanks so much!

I would recommend following, if you are only a mac user and plan to move only between Apple devices, APFS is the way to go, but depending on size of the drive if you ever plan to connect to windows ExFAT would be the choice.

Happy New Year @fiddleddd! I am glad to hear that the new SSD drive is working well for you.

I do offer one-on-one remote tech support for photographers like you. Contact me at or at 406-356-6279 if I can be of any assistance.


Thanks, Joseph! It’s highly unlikely that I would ever go between Mac’s and PC’s, so I think I’m safe. Thanks so much!

Thanks for your reply, David, and I will definitely contact you. It’s just some organizational stuff because I finally had to start a 2nd catalog, which I did not want to do. I don’t need it for business purposes, but my first catalog was taking forever to backup. After working on a little catch up after being on a 3-month RV trip, I’ll contact you.

you are welcome, Native is always the best for performance unless compatibility is a requirement.