Air disk with Airport Extreme Compatibilty | Set up


Good evening - I've put up a few posts about using an External Drive connected to my Extreme - but I still have a few unanswered questions after visiting the apple store as some of the techs there weren't 100% certain even.

1. What I want to do is get a drive that is compatible right out of the box - so I was looking for a Mac formatted disk. Does it matter what kind I get as long as it supports USB 2.0? If it uses (or does not use) an external power supply will this be a factor in compatibility? I am looking for something I can either plug in directly to a power source or power it off my airport Extreme - in other words I don't want to have to be a USB power hub.

2. If I want to use this to connect my macs AND a Windows PC - do I have to partition and reformat the drive so my windows machine can 'see' and read/write to the drive or is the mac partition usable?

3. This is a fifth generation Extreme I just purchased. I've seen some information saying that if I connect an external to my extreme I CAN use Time Machine to back it up; I've also seen posts that state this won't work - can someone shed some light on this?

4. IF there is any drives people recommend - I'd be interested. I was looking at a G-Drive 2TB - Separate power supply or a 1TB USB powered...I also looked at some of the WD portables.

Thank you all for your help.
The storage seems important to you...
Why did you decide on an Airport Extreme, instead of a Time Capsule?
1. Format the external for Mac OS X Extended if you want to use it for a time Machine backup. If you want more USB2 ports on the Extreme get a powered USB2 HUB and you can connect up to four USB2 drives, printers or a combination of both.

2. One word for your Windows Machine, if you want the lease hassle, is the Windows shareware called MacDrive. I use it myself and it has yet to disappoint me on my Windows 7 machine (for my networked media center drive, formatted for OS X).

3. Does your devices support 5 GHz in the 100's range. If they do use this range so no near by routers don't interfere with your 5 GHz network. Use the free OS X software iStumbler beta (I linked the beta for 10.8).

4. Whatever you get make sure in has a USB2 port with included cable and with external power. Also make sure the external is 7200 RPM for High definition video.

Lastly on how to share the connected drive look at the Apple site Airport Feature - Hard Drive Sharing.
Just a couple of points:
1. Apple does not support using Time Machine with a USB hard drive plugged in to an Airport Extreme (airdisk).
There's a number of threads pointing out that Time Machine backups to airdisks sometimes work, but may stop working without warning, and is not a reliable solution to use for a full backup:
Use it if it works, but be aware of the risk.
2. MacDrive is NOT shareware, it is commercial software with a free trial available.