APFS or MacOS Extended for HDD - Monterey?

Hello, I’ve got a WD Elements portable hard disk to use to store media from my iMac 2017, and I’m not sure how to format it. I’ve been reading a lot that for previous MacOS releases was best to format an external hard drive in MacOS Extended instead of APFS, but with Monterey release, is this still true? I care only about reliability, not speed or reverse compatibility. The fact that Monterey Time Machine requires hard disks to be formatted with APFS made me question if now things have changed. Thanks

I strongly recommend HFS+. I also have an external media hard drive (4TB) and initially formatted it as APFS. I know you say you don’t care about performance, but it would take up to 10 minutes just to mount on the desktop, 30s-2min to display folders, and several minutes to eject. Painful to use. I reformatted it as HFS+ (and restored the files) and it’s working as I would expect. Not blazing fast, but not taking ages just to show the files in a folder.

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I agree with HFS+ (not case-sensitive). HFS+ for spinning drives, APFS for solid-state. I did some testing a few months ago, and a spinning APFS drive was dismally slow. The exception is a Time Machine hard disk. It must be HFS+ formatted when initialized, but Time Machine will reformat it to APFS under Monterey.

Time Machine backups to APFS make use of snapshots. That’s very efficient. There is broad consensus that APFS makes a lot of sense for a TM disk, even if it’s of spinning rust type.

That, however, cannot be equated with the type of use a boot volume or user drive sees. Fragmentation is definitely a problem with APFS on HDDs when used that way. There’s many folks who advise to stick to HFS+ for HDD boot/scratch drives just for performance reasons alone.

IMHO both pieces of advice are perfectly sound and not contradictory — TM and boot/scratch disk use is very different and how a disk gets formatted needs to account for those differences.

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Ok, thanks so much for the explanation :grinning:

If you’re using any part of the drive for CCC backups with Catalina and above, then that would require APFS. I have a 5TB WD EasyStore with six partitions and one needs to be APFS for a Catalina backup.

Only if you want it to be bootable. If you want to make a non-bootable backup, it can be any file system you like.

Correct, which is what I want just in case my SSD decides to go down.