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I am sorry that you had so many problems with mounting. Thank you for sharing your experience, maybe it will help other users who encounter a similar problem.
In principle, mounting with the Max2Play OS should work with all common formats, regardless of whether the hard drive was connected before or after booting. If the hard disk is recognised, a corresponding message should appear in the Filesystem/Mount Plugin indicating that the hard disk has not yet been mounted. If the checkbox for mounting the hard disk is activated and the Save button is clicked, the hard disk should be permanently mounted and show up in the mounts list at the top.
If this option is not available or mounting does not work in this way, then the Max2Play image may be damaged or a kernel update has caused the mounting to no longer work as before, so we have to make adjustments to our image (this was the case, for example, when switching from stretch to buster).