I was looking for a creative way to be able to share my USB hard drive that I had formatted for the Mac with my PC.  HFS Explorer, worked fine, but required me to extract files instead of being able to expose the volume as a drive letter.  I decided I would search for something that would allow my Mac to not only read (which OS X does by default), but also write to an NTFS partition.  I was going to reformat my USB hard drive as NTFS since I now primarily use it with my PCs.

My search turned up an app called MacFUSE.  MacFUSE, as the website indicated, “implements a mechanism that makes it possible to implement a fully functional file system in a user-space program on Mac OS X (10.4 and above). It provides multiple APIs, one of which is a superset of the FUSE (File-system in USEr space) API that originated on Linux. Therefore, many existing FUSE file systems become readily usable on Mac OS X.”

Next, my search turned up NTFS-3G, a driver that sits on top of MacFUSE and enables full read and write capabilities of NTFS under the Mac OS.  I installed MacFUSE, and then NTFS-3G.  After a reboot, I was on my way to copying files from the Mac to a USB hard drive, now formatted as NTFS.  Well, kinda.

What I figured out is that the NTFS-3G driver seemed to cause a lot of problems with my Mac OS.  Any time file access was taking place, whether it be on an HFS or NTFS file system, things seemed to “konk” out after a while.  For example, I was copying a few ISOs over, and half way through the copy would error out, but it seem to hang the entire operating system.  I tried several different files, large and smaller, with the same result.

I quickly removed MacFUSE and NTFS-3G and my problems relating to file system operations seemed to go away.  Not sure what was happening there.  For now I have decided to copy files through my virtual machine to the external drive.  It adds a layer of abstraction, and seems to hinder the performance somewhat, but the copy operations do finish successfully.

Have you used MacFUSE or NTFS-3G and had a different experience?