How to Access Linux Partitions from Windows

Posted by jun auza On 5/19/2012
Dual booting is one of the best ways that Linux-curious folks can get their hands dirty. First install Windows, next put Linux, and then switch between the two whenever you want; life couldn't be more perfect. The ease with which you could cycle between the two operating systems have taken Linux, especially Mint and Ubuntu, to the masses, a group which never would have imagined touching the penguinian operating system.

Once set up, you can easily access all your Windows files from your Linux distribution and mess with them any way you want. However, if, from Windows, you wanted to access the files you have on Linux, there is no straightforward way of doing it. That’s why some developers have come up with a useful set of tools that help you overcome that limitation and access your stuff on Linux in its full glory. So, without much ado, here’s how to access Linux partitions from Windows:


Ex2Read

Similar to Explorer, Ex2Read lets you access your files on Linux whether they are on an ext2, ext3 or ext4 partition. Once installed, the free tool allows you to view and copy folders and files. Moreover, you can recursively copy whole directories along with support for LRU block cache for faster concurrent access. Licensed under GPL, Ex2Read also supports external USB disks, which means you don’t have to worry about those portable hard drives not being recognized by Windows. That said, there’s limited support for large files on Ext4, which, in my opinion, is not a big flaw.



DiskInternals Linux Reader

With support for ext2, ext3, ext4, HFS, and ReiserFS file systems, DiskInternals Linux Reader is a free tool for accessing Linux partitions on Windows. The software promises to provide safe access to Linux partitions from Windows, which avoids any accidental modifications to Linux that might stop it from working. Though DiskInternals comes with support for more file systems when compared to the aforementioned Ex2Read, it does, however, lack the ability to write to file systems. The best use of DiskInternals would be for new users, or on a shared computer where there might be a fear of other users messing with the files on Linux.



An Alternative Workaround (for those who don’t want to use any external tools or software)

That said, if you want to avoid using any external tools, here’s how I dual-boot my computer: I've given more space to Windows (approx 70%) on my computer. On the remaining 30% I've installed Linux. I keep all my music files, videos, and movies on my Windows partition and create a bookmark in Nautilus linking to those folders. The advantage of using this method is that it allows you to access all your important files from both the operating systems without using any external tools. So, let’s say I boot from Linux to Windows, now, I can easily listen to all my music and watch all my movies without having to look for them everywhere.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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