January 31


How To Watch Video on Any Device (Almost)

The Best Format for Your Video on USB Flash Drive  

These days there is so much technology out there. One of the best physical medias for storing, sharing, and watching your finished life story family history film video is the teeny tiny USB Flash Drive or Memory Stick as some call it. Coming in ever larger digital capacities, this little storage device can hold hours of high definition video. And you can get these drives in very plain forms or very original shapes and colours disguised as typical household objects or even food!

The one problem that some folks have is not knowing which type of formatting to use on the USB Flash drive. What does this mean? Over the years several different methods of arranging the data on physical media has evolved. Different devices prefer different formats.  The most common types of media formatting are FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and exFat.  Most computers can read all formats (although Macs can't write to NTFS).

exFat is meant to be compatible between Windows PCs and Macs, and it is, both platforms being able to read and write to media using that format.  But many modern TVs with USB ports on the back still can't read exFat. 

USB Flash Drives that look like food

So which format do you want? What I've figured out with lots of trial and error is this. The USB Flash Drive format that can be played on the most devices (MacBook, Windows, and most TVs) is NTFS. Despite that a Mac can't write to NTSF, a greater number of recent TVs from Samsung, LG, and Sony can successfully read a USB FLash Drive formatted with NTFS. The fact that the Mac can't write to NTSF isn't an issue, unless you're a Mac only video producer and you don't have a Windows computer to make the Flash drive!

There are lots of articles on the web about media formatting because more ands, ifs, or buts about this topic. 

But my advice? When you're working with your videographer or personal historian in the final finishing process of a life story family history film tell them this: Put my final video on NTFS formatted USB Flash Drives.

And of course you'd want to have your video stored online for streaming to any device, but that's a whole other conversation. 

About the author

Cory Bretz is a filmmaker and personal historian. He specializes in interviewing elders and helping families inspire their next generation with their life stories, family history, wisdom, blessings, and old photos. He can help you create your own life story family history film or storybook. Cory also loves producing fundraising and profile videos for non-profits and conscious corporations that help them do their good works.


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