I followed a link that was posted to format my hard drive to FAT32 and once I did, I spent 10+ hours copying over all my data to this hard drive, and when I plugged in the hard drive it states I need to format once I changed my storage to external. Do I have to format it and just sync everything which will take 10 times longer than just a simple transfer from hard drive to hard drive? Is there a way around this problem?
There are two ways an external drive can be used - Primary or Secondary. Secondary storage allows you to attach a drive full of non-iTunes media and play it via the aTV Flash menus. Primary storage allows the drive to be used in place of the internal drive as the storage location for syncing iTunes content. Setting up a drive as primary storage will require the AppleTV to reformat the drive, while this is not required of secondary storage.
More info here: http://wiki.atvflash.com/index.php?title=USB_Storage
found this was only true if your hard drive was already formated with HFS+ file structure as an apple drive. If you are using windows you will need a utility to first format your USB drive as an HFS+ drive, then get the apple TV to recognize it, via changing it to an external drive, finally copy all your video files over to the new USB drive (Windows 7 or the MACDRIVE (trial version) utility allow that to work).
Apple TV will recognize the drive after that.
correction. You can format your drive as exFAT file structure. Then
once you do this, your drive will work on a WINDOWS machine and on the ATV device.
If you are using an Apple computer you need to format as HFS+ then do the “sync” the drive via the EXTERNAL and INTERNAL menu item.
found you also need to connect to ITUNES at least once to have the file structure built on the EXTERNAL usb drive. This is weird.
so to summarize.
Connect your ATV to your network. Make sure it can sync with ITUNES. Move a movie or some music to it and do a SYNC.
Connect your previously formatted USB drive (format as exFAT if windows or HFS+ if apple) to your ATV.
Go to the MAINTANANCE then SETTINGS then ITUNES STORAGE menu. Change to EXTERNAL.
Let the ATV sync the external usb drive.
Now go switch back to INTERNAL with the same menu as mentioned above.
There will now be an EXTERNAL MEDIA directory on your usb drive. This is where you save all your movies.