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What file system should you use for your external drive?

With the three top operating systems, it is hard to know exactly what file system your operating system will work with. One file system may be fully compatible (read and write) with your OS, while another may not be compatible at all. So here is a list of the various file systems and what operating systems they work with.

What file system should you use for your external drive?

Windows operating system

  • FAT (File Allocation Table) (FAT12, FAT16, FAT32) - FAT was initially developed for floppy disks and was soon adapted to hard drives and other devices. With the limited file size (4GB for FAT32) and limited volume size (32TB for FAT32), and the ever-increasing size of drives, FAT is now used only for smaller USB drives.
  • exFAT (Extensible File Allocation Table) - exFAT was designed as a replacement for FAT and optimized for USB flash drives and SD cards.
  • NTFS (NT File System) - Microsoft introduced NTFS in Windows NT 3.1, and is now the default file system for Windows.
  • ReFS (Resilient File System) - ReFS was created to overcome some of the problems NTFS had with data storage. It appeared in Windows Server 2012, and support for it has been removed from Windows 10.

MAC operating system

  • HFS (Hierarchical File System) - HFS was the original file system for the Mac OS. Over the years, support for HFS has been cut back to read-only in newer Mac OS versions. Starting with Mac OS 10.15, support for HFS was removed.
  • HFS+ (Hierarchical File System Extended) - HFS+ was the replacement for the HFS file system as it supported larger file sizes. HFS+ is still supported in the Mac OS but is no longer the default file system.
  • APFS (Apple File System) - APFS is now the default file system for Mac OS, iOS, and iPadOS.

Linux operating system

  • EXT (Extended File System) - EXT was the first file system designed specifically for Linux. EXT had a file system limit of 2GB and was soon replaced.
  • EXT2 (Second Extended File System) - EXT2 replaced EXT as the default file system for Linux in the mid-'90s. Many versions of Linux still use EXT2 for the file system for USB flash drives.
  • EXT3 (Third Extended File System) - EXT3 replaced EXT2 as the default file system for Linux in the early '00s. One of the main advantages of EXT3 is its compatibility (forward and backward) with EXT2.
  • EXT4 (Fourth Extended File System) - EXT4 replaced EXT3 as the default file system for Linux in the late '00s. There are several advantages to EXT4, including larger volume and file sizes and backward compatibility with EXT2 and EXT3.

Compatibly Index

File System Operating System
FAT Windows (1) Linux (1) Mac OS (1)
exFAT Windows (1) Linux (3) Mac OS (1)
NTFS Windows (1) Linux (3) Mac OS (2)
ReFS Windows (3) Linux (3) Mac OS (3)
HFS Windows (3) Linux (3) Mac OS (3)
HFS+ Windows (3) Linux (3) Mac OS (1)
APFS Windows (3) Linux (3) Mac OS (1)
EXT Windows (3) Linux (3) Mac OS (3)
EXT2 Windows (3) Linux (1) Mac OS (3)
EXT3 Windows (3) Linux (1) Mac OS (3)
EXT4 Windows (3) Linux (1) Mac OS (3)
1. Full read and write compatibility by default.
2. Read only compatibility by default.
3. No compatibility by default.

Note: There is third-party software that can give full read and write access to file systems that are not compatible with an operating system by default.

Conclusion

So if you are looking for a file system for your external drive compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, look no further than FAT32. It has survived the test of time and is the only file system that can be used without additional software on all three operating systems.

Creating panoramic images with Image Composite Editor 2

One of the things I like to do when I go on vacation is taking panoramic photos. Since my camera doesn't take panoramic photos, I have to use software to stitch images together. One of the best image stitchers I have found yet is Image Composite Editor 2 from Microsoft Research Computational Photography Group.

Image Composite Editor 2

Image Composite Editor (ICE) can take photos taken from a single location that overlap and create stunning panoramic images from them. Using techniques from the field of computer vision, ICE scans the images for similarities to each other and then estimates the vantage point for each photo. ICE can even create panoramic images from videos too.

Sample ICE 2 panoramic image without auto complete
Sample ICE 2 panoramic image without autocomplete
Sample ICE 2 panoramic image with auto complete
Sample ICE 2 panoramic image with autocomplete

Microsoft Research Computational Photography Group recently released a new version of ICE. The following is a quote from the ICE website of changes included in ICE 2:

  • Redesigned user interface
    ICE has a new look that makes all the features more understandable and easier to use.
  • Automatic image completion
    ICE can now fill in any missing pixels around the edges of your panorama, making a smooth boundary even in cases where you missed a shot.
  • Improved workflow
    ICE now guides you through the steps required to make a great panorama. And you can back up a step to change settings, then see the effects of those changes without having to start over from scratch.
  • Full-resolution preview
    Panorama previews are no longer limited by your screen resolution. ICE now allows you to zoom in to see every detail of your stitched panorama, no matter how big, before you export.
  • Built-in Photosynth uploader
    ICE no longer requires the installation of a separate application to upload a panorama to the Photosynth web site. You can now upload and share your panorama directly from within ICE.

ICE will work on 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. For more information on Image Composite Editor from Microsoft Research Computational Photography Group, follow the links below:

ICE Homepage
ICE Support Forums

Creating stunning documents, spreadsheets and slide-shows with OpenOffice 4

With the cost of Microsoft Office going up, not to mention the subscription / non-subscription thing, it's nice to know there are alternatives out there. One of the best office alternatives has to be OpenOffice. And it just so happens that the Apache Software Foundation recently released a new version of their free productivity software, OpenOffice 4.

The main screen inside of OpenOffice 4
The main screen inside of OpenOffice 4

For those who are not familiar with it, OpenOffice is a suite of office productivity programs that rivals Microsoft Office. It has everything you could need for creating great-looking documents, spreadsheets, and slideshow presentations. Here's a complete list of all of the programs included in OpenOffice 4.

Program Equivalent to Program type
Writer Microsoft Word Word processor
Calc Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
Impress Microsoft PowerPoint Multi-media slideshow presentation
Draw Microsoft Paint Graphic design
Base Microsoft Access Database
Math Design Science Mathtype Formula creation

OpenOffice 4 has some significant improvements over previous versions. A new Sidebar contains the most commonly used functions for that program, which can be docked, floating, or completely hidden. There is also much improved compatibly with Microsoft Office documents. The drawing, graphics, and gallery functions have also been enhanced, along with the copy & paste and drag & drop functionality.

The new Sidebar inside of OpenOffice 4 shown docked and floating
The new Sidebar inside of OpenOffice 4 shown docked and floating

OpenOffice does use Java, but it's not required for installation, as it can be added later on. Compatibility with other document formats is pretty impressive, but Star Office is no longer supported. OpenOffice can automatically load/convert and convert/save Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and Design Science Mathtype documents. The only file types that it cannot save to is the Microsoft Office 2007 - 2019 .???x formats.

And since OpenOffice is open-source, there are hundreds of third-party extensions to expand on the functionality of the applications. Add in a copy of GIMP or Paint.NET, and you have a complete and free desktop publishing package.

OpenOffice 4 is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. For more information on OpenOffice 4, just follow the links below:

Apache OpenOffice Open Source Project

Download OpenOffice 4

Sync data between your PC and smartphone with CompanionLink

Like a lot of people, I use Microsoft Outlook as a PIM (Personal Information Manager). And being in the computer repair industry, I need to keep all of my data (contacts, calendar, etc.) synchronized and up to date on both my PC and smartphone. I found I can do all of this quite easily with CompanionLink.

CompanionLink 5 for Outlook setup screen
CompanionLink 5 for Outlook setup screen

I wrote an article a while back about syncing Outlook with my Android phone using CompanionLink on my PC and DejaOffice on my Android. It works because you install CompanionLink on your PC or Mac and install DejaOffice on your Android, iPhone / iPad, Blackberry, etc. You then define what database (Outlook, ATC!, etc.) and what fields (contacts, calendar, etc.) you want to sync.

DejaOffice 2.2 main screen
DejaOffice 2.2 main screen

Recently they released a new version of both CompanionLink (V5) and DejaOffice (V2.2) with more capabilities and features. They have multiple versions for different applications (I use CompanionLink for Outlook). Here's a quote from their website on the products they offer:

Our products work with Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, HP webOS, Palm OS, and Windows devices. We also sync with Google, Gmail, Google Apps, and Windows Live (Hotmail) accounts

CompanionLink for Outlook
Sync Microsoft Outlook with Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink for Palm Desktop
Sync Palm Desktop or Pimlical with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and memos.

CompanionLink Express
Sync ACT!, Lotus Notes, HighRise, or GroupWise with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink Professional
Sync Salesforce CRM, Goldmine, or any other supported database with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Includes all the features of CompanionLink Express, plus the ability to sync to from multiple databases, sync with up to 5 devices, and advanced sync options.

CompanionLink for Google
Sync Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar to Google Contacts, Google Calendar, and Google Tasks. Works with any Google, Gmail, or Google Apps account. Two-way sync is fully supported so you can make changes to data in Outlook or in Google.

CompanionLink for Outlook.com / Windows Live
Sync Outlook with your Windows Live Hotmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, and tasks.

CompanionLink for Time & Chaos
Sync Time & Chaos with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink FA
Sync Wise Agent, Infusionsoft, SalesJunction, or Respond with smartphones, tablets, Outlook, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink for Mac
Sync Mac's Address Book and iCal with any Android device. You can also keep Outlook for Mac in sync with Android. Requires OS X Lion (10.7) or Mountain Lion (10.8).

For more information on CompanionLink and DejaOffice, follow the links below:

CompanionLink

CompanionLink FAQ's

Using the Microsoft Web Platform to create web apps and websites

When it comes to a complete set of website development tools, nobody does it better than Microsoft. From web server (IIS), database server (SQL), framework (.NET), and development tools (Visual Studio), Microsoft has quite the offering. They even created an application to install it all, the Web Platform Installer (WebPI). And best of all, they're free!

Spotlight view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4
Spotlight view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4

Using the WebPI application, you can download and install all of the programs you need to create and publish a website. You can even download various web apps like WordPress or DotNetNuke. The app categories range from blog and content management system (CMS) to e-commerce and galleries.

Appilcation view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4
Application view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4

And with the release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 on the horizon, Microsoft is starting to roll out new versions of quite a few of these programs. Here's a quote from Microsoft's site:

With the Microsoft Web Platform you get more than just a powerful set of tools, servers and technologies. You get a complete eco-system of products, technologies and partners all looking to help you succeed on the web.

Powerful Framework
ASP.NET Framework ASP.NET is a free, fully supported Web application framework that helps you build standards-based Web solutions by providing a rich set of features and easy integration with databases and web services.

Flexible Web Server
IIS Web Server Internet Information Services provides a secure, easy-to-manage Web platform for reliably hosting ASP.NET and PHP web applications on the same server.

Robust Database
SQL Server SQL Server® is a complete database engine for running high performance web applications. Easily create data-enabled web applications with SQL Server's support for LINQ, Entity Data Model, and ADO.NET.

Complete Tools
Microsoft Web Design and Development Tools Visual Studio®, Expression Web® and Windows Internet Explorer® with its built-in developer tools, provide a complete environment for building standards-based web sites, applications and services.

Here's a partial list of some of the recently updated applications:

  • Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Express
  • IIS 8.0 Express
  • .NET Framework 4.5

For more information on the Microsoft Web Platform, follow the links below.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Diagnosing PC problems can be time-consuming. From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes can take some time. We base our in-shop service on the actual time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

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Geeks in Phoenix
Professional service at an affordable price!
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

At Geeks in Phoenix, we have the most outstanding computer consultants that provide the highest exceptional service in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona. We offer in-shop, on-site, and remote (with stable Internet connection) computer support and services.

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