NTFS on your Mac two ways

PC-to-Mac switchers are sometimes surprised to discover that while Mac OS X has full support for reading, writing and formatting the older FAT32 Windows disk format, media formatted with the NTFS scheme (NT for "New Technology" a la Windows NT, FS for File System -- introduced in 1993, not so 'new' anymore...) mounts as read-only on the Mac.

Even though there are valid technical reasons for keeping the NTFS drives read-only -- for one thing, the NTFS format is a Microsoft trade secret and must be licensed for full compatibility -- this constraint may cause challenges for cross-platform operations or Boot Camp users who choose NTFS for their drives. Without a separate FAT32 volume or a Windows-side utility like MacDrive, transferring files can be a pain.

Enter the new release from Paragon, NTFS for Mac OS X 6.0, meant to overcome this limitation. Paragon has sold a Linux NTFS driver for some time now, but this is the first version of the tool for Mac OS X. For $29.95, you get a driver compatible with 10.4.6 and up which works on both PPC and Intel Macs (why version 6 for a new product? It's tracking the version of the Linux utility, also at v6). You can download a 10-day trial here.

The primary selling point of Paragon's tool is speed and compatibility, when compared to the option behind door number 2: MacFUSE/ntfs-3g, the Google implementation of the FUSE library for Mac OS X paired with the open-source build of NTFS support (now stable after 12 years of development!). After a change of developers on the Mac build of ntfs-3g earlier in the year, the package is now tracking along nicely and all indications are that the combination of MacFUSE and ntfs-3g works well, albeit more slowly than would be ideal. If you have occasional need for NTFS writeability, MacFUSE might do the job; if you'll need it every day, check out Paragon's tool. If you only need to drag and drop to an NTFS volume while you're running Parallels or VMware Fusion... well, relax: both virtualization apps provide reciprocal file transfer, and Parallels will even open your disk images on the Mac side as needed, without launching the full Windows environment.
This article was originally published on Tuaw.