I work as a software team lead supporting a GIS toolkit for Windows, Linux, and Sparc Solaris machines. We often need to transfer large (>4GB) chunks of files between machines of different types, say Windows PC and Solaris workstations. These machines are not always networked together so you can’t always use ftp or another copy protocol to get the job done. The best way I’ve found to solve this problem is to use a USB drive to transfer the data as described below.
- Copy the data off your USB drive to a temporary backup location
- Reformat the USB drive as one FAT32 partition consisting of 1/4 or 1/5 of the drive and a NTFS partition that spans the rest of the drive.
- Copy your backed up data back onto the NTFS portion of the newly formatted drive.
The size of the FAT32 partition depends on the amount of data you will need to transfer between different machine types at a time. We have mostly 500GB USB drives so we format 100GB as FAT32 and the other 400 or so GB as NTFS. Adjust as you see fit.
Many people know (but sometimes forget) that almost all major modern operating systems support FAT32 out of the box. This includes all flavors of Windows, Mac OS-X, Linux, the PS3, and more. So the simple procedure above gives you a chunk of storage that all major operating systems can read and write out of the box while retaining most of the drive formatted as NTFS, which is a superior file system but sometimes requires extra drivers on non-Windows operating systems. Whenever you need to copy from one machine type to another, just copy the data onto the FAT32 partition of your USB drive, connect it to the target computer, and just copy the data over. The primary reason not to format your whole drive as FAT32 is that FAT32 limits file size to 4GB, so if you have files larger than about 4GB, you’ll need to break them into smaller pieces before you copy them to the FAT32 partition and reassemble them later. There are tools for doing this (e.g. http://www.jaist.ac.jp/~
If you don’t have a USB drive or otherwise have a need for very secure data storage, I highly recommend the Aegis Padlock drives from Apricorn. These drives support up to 256 bit AES encryption with a keypad built into them, so there is no software installation needed to use the drives. We’ve had 15 or more of the 500GB version for more than a year and are starting to get the 750GB version, and we’ve had no issues at all with them. Best of all, the drives are less than $200 each, which is a very low price for such a great drive.
File splitter and recombiner – http://www.jaist.ac.jp/~