Now you’ve picked and bought your SSD drive. The next decision is picking the right format.
You know there are different formats available for Mac. And you don’t want to make the wrong choice.
Read on. So you can choose the right format for your SSD on Mac.
What Format Should My SSD Be For Mac
Your SSD format should be APFS (Apple File System) on a Mac. APFS was designed by Apple for SSD’s.
You should format APFS. Unless you need to share your external SSD drive with an older Mac running Sierra (MacOS 10.12). Because Mac OS Sierra cannot use an APFS formatted drive. Also a Mac running Mac OS Catalina (10.5) won’t use APFS for Time Machine backup.
You’ll need to format Mac OS Extended Journaled to work with those older Macs.
Now you have the high level view. Read on for more info.
Why You Should Pick APFS Format For Your SSD On Mac
You should pick APFS (Apple File System) for your new Mac. Because it offers superior performance, security and protection for your data.
APFS (Apple File System) was made by Apple Inc back in 2017 to take advantage of the speed of SSD’s. It was designed and built with Solid State Drives (SSDs) in mind. And it’s the default file system format supplied for Macs running Mac OS X Ventura, or Monterey.
APFS is a Mac file system, made for a Mac, to run on a Mac.
Format your SSD using the disk management software on your Mac computer. Format with software called Disk Utility. Pick APFS set up with a GUID Partition Map.
Reasons Why You Should Format SSD APFS For Mac
Performance On Mac
The APFS file system format sets up an SSD drive to get the most performance out of the drive. APFS stores file metadata with the file rather than in a fixed location on the drive.
APFS on SSD’s gives you fast directory sizing. And APFS takes fast file system snapshots using free space on your solid state drive.
You’ll find APFS is better at handling large files. Because those are the files that especially need tip top performance.
APFS lets you create extra partitions.
You use the Mac disk management software Disk Utility to create extra partitions. Mac Extended Journaled file system needed you to take your data off the drive. And then reformat to create an extra partition.
Security On Mac
APFS gives you stronger more secure file encryption. When compared to the older Apple file system format Mac OS Extended.
Protection For Your Data
APFS has better data recovery features than Mac OS Extended.
Should you have a sudden power failure. The lack of power will trigger your APFS drive to roll back to a safe point with your data.
That makes it a real boon for SSD external drives. Because you’re more likely to unplug from your Mac computer without thinking. Something previously that could result in your files corrupting. Now your files are better protected.
What Format Should You Run On An Internal SSD Mac drive?
APFS (Apple File System) is the right format answer for your Mac’s boot drive. Also known as your startup disk or your Macintosh HD.
Modern Mac’s like the M1 Mac, M2 Mac and Apple Silicon Mac’s come with SSD drives inside.
APFS is the file system format made for those internal SSD drives on a Mac. Your new Mac will come with its drives APFS formatted ready to take the latest version of Apple’s file system.
What Format Should You Run On A Mac SSD External Drive?
APFS. For an external SSD you want to run on a Mac running the latest Mac operating systems. Like Mac OS Ventura, Monterey, really any Mac OS since Big Sur use APFS.
Because the Mac’s that run those operating systems were made and designed to take advantage of APFS drives. You’ll get the fastest performance out of your Mac external drive.
What Format Should My SSD Be For Compatibility With An Older Mac?
Format SSD using Disk Utility as Mac OS Extended Journaled with a GUID Partition Map. Format your SSD storage device that way when you need your SSD to be compatible with an older Mac.
Macs that can only run the Mac operating system Sierra. Or earlier can use happily use SSDs as external drives.
Even though Mac Extended Journaled was made for a hard drive. Both internal or an external hard drive. MacOS Extended Journaled will run fine on an SSD.
Those older hard drive based Macs need your SSD format in Mac OS Extended.
You’ll see a speed boost on those Macs because of the faster solid state drive. Even though the speed won’t be as fast compared to the SSD drive formatted as APFS.
What Format Should My SSD Be For Time Machine?
On new Mac’s format your SSD APFS. APFS Time Machine support started at MacOS Big Sur.
For older Macs running Catalina or earlier releases of the Mac operating system. Those Mac’s won’t support APFS. You should format your SSD as Extended Journaled for a Time Machine backup on those Macs.
Check out this post all about it. Format SSD For Mac Time Machine.
What Format Should My SSD Be On Mac For A Windows Computer?
You should format your SSD as ExFAT on Mac for compatibility with a Windows PC. Both a Mac and a Windows PC can read, write and understand the ExFAT file system format.
PC’s can’t read an APFS or Mac OS Extended Journaled drive without special driver software running on the PC.
You do have the option of formatting as MSDOS FAT (FAT32) using your Mac’s Apple Disk Utility. But FAT32 is an old insecure and less reliable file system. You’d use FAT32 only for compatibility with older devices that demanded that format.
Congratulations on reading right to the end. I hope you enjoyed this article all about what format your Mac’s SSD should be.
The answer is likely to be APFS. But if you need to use your SSD drive on an older Mac then MacOS Extended Journaled is the choice as it’ll will work on a new Mac. And on an older Mac.
If it’s compatibility with a Windows PC that’s needed then ExFAT would be your SSD format choice.
While you’re here do take a look at our related articles for more information.
About Paul Gregory
I’ve been a system administrator for various corporates for 15 years. And as admin I’ve helped many with their Mac’s and there many Apple devices.
I’m excited by watching users, armed with a little knowledge take control of their Mac’s and their files. And why not?
When I’m not at work or working on the site I like to chill with few beers. And watch a bit of car racing. From Formula 1 to stock car racing. The competition is my thing.