If you’re dual booting Windows and Linux, you’ll probably want to access files on your Linux system from Windows at some point. Linux has built-in support for Windows NTFS partitions, but Windows can’t read Linux partitions without third-party software.
So we’ve rounded up some third-party software to help. This list is focused on applications that support the Ext4 file system, which most new Linux distributions use by default. These applications all support Ext2 and Ext3, too—and one of them even supports ReiserFS.
Ext2Fsd is a Windows file system driver for the Ext2, Ext3, and Ext4 file systems. It allows Windows to read Linux file systems natively, providing access to the file system via a drive letter that any program can access.
You can have Ext2Fsd launch at every boot or only open it when you need it. While you can theoretically enable support for writing to Linux partitions, I haven’t tested this. I’d be worried about this option, myself—a lot can go wrong. Read-only support is fine, though, and doesn’t carry a risk of messing anything up.
The Ext2 Volume Manager application allows you to define mount points for your Linux partitions and change Ext2Fsd’s settings.
If you didn’t set Ext2Fsd to autostart at boot, you’ll have to go into Tools > Service Management and start the Ext2Fsd service before you can access your Linux files. By default, the driver automatically mounts and assigns drive letters to your Linux partitions, so you don’t have to do anything extra.
You’ll find your Linux partitions mounted at their own drive letters in Windows Explorer. You can access the files on them from any application, without the hassle of copying files to your Windows partition before accessing them.
This partition’s file system as actually EXT4, but Ext2Fsd can read it fine, anyway. If you’re looking for your personal files, you’ll find them in your /home/NAME directory.
DiskInternals Linux Reader
Linux Reader is a freeware application from DiskInternals, developers of data recovery software. In addition to the Ext file systems, Linux Reader also supports ReiserFS and Apple’s HFS and HFS+ file systems. It’s read-only, so it can’t damage your Linux file system.
Linux Reader doesn’t provide access via a drive letter—instead, it’s a separate application you launch to browse your Linux partitions.
Linux Reader shows previews of your files, making it easy to find the right one.
If you want to work with a file in Windows, you’ll have to save the file from your Linux partition to your Windows file system with the Save option. You can also save entire directories of files.
We’ve covered Ext2explore in the past. It’s an open-source application that works similarly to DiskInternals Linux Reader—but only for Ext4, Ext3, and Ext2 partitions. It also lacks file previews, but it has one advantage: it doesn’t have to be installed; you can just download the .exe and run it.
The Ext2explore.exe program must be run as administrator, though, or you’ll get an error. You can do this from the right-click menu.
To save some time in the future, go into the file’s properties window and enable the “Run this program as an administrator” option on the Compatibility tab.
As with Linux Reader, you’ll have to save a file or directory to your Windows system before you can open it in other programs.
Ever need to grab a file or two from your ext4 partition? Maybe you’ve wanted to backup a few important files while you were in Windows. Here’s how to browse your Linux partition from Windows using a tool called Ext2explore.
Most Linux distributions nowadays use the ext4 partition by default, and while there are some tools that can read the older ext2 and ext3 partitions, Ext2explore (also known as Ext2Read) is the only one that we’ve seen that is able to read all three. In the spirit of Linux, it’s also open source.
You can download Ext2explore from the Ext2Read Sourceforge page, and runs on Windows XP SP3, as well as Vista and 7 in compatibility mode.
There is no installation for the utility, so just unzip the file. You can give it its own folder, if you like. Ext2explore has a few compatibility issues, so let’s fix them first, shall we? Right-click the .exe file and go to Properties.
Then, click on the Compatibility tab.
Under “Compatibility Mode” choose Windows XP (Service Pack 3) from the drop-down menu. Next, check the Run this program as an administrator item, and click OK. This insures that the program runs smoothly (we had no issues with the XP SP3 setting) and has the privileges to access unmounted partitions.
Just double-click the program to launch it. You’ll get a security warning from Windows, to which you should respond Yes.
You should see the main Ext2explore window:
The program automatically scans your disks for ext partitions. This also works on USB disks, too! If nothing is shown or you get an error message stating no ext partitions were found, verify that ran the program as an administrator, and rescan by clicking the computer monitor icon in the top bar (next to Tux the penguin).
Double-click on folders to open them, and navigate around like you would in Explorer. You can view files’ properties, or save them to another folder on your Windows partition by right-clicking and selecting Save.
You’ll see a prompt asking you where to save your chosen files/folders to.
You’ll see a “Saving…” dialog and there you go!
While you won’t be able to write to ext2, ext3, or ext4 partitions, this is a great utility that can save you in a pinch if you just need a few files from your Linux partition. It’s also not a bad way to backup some important things if your Linux install fails to boot, though be careful with file permissions once you’re back in Linux.
If you have dual boot with Windows and Linux, you will probably want to access files from Windows to Linux and vice versa. By default, Linux can read the Windows partitions (FAT and NTFS), but Windows can’t read the Linux partitions (EXT 3/4) without any external software. In this brief guide, I will show you how to access Linux partitions from Windows 10 and transfer the data from Linux partitions to Windows using a freeware named Linux reader.
It allows you to access files and folders on Ext, UFS, HFS, ReiserFS, or APFS file systems from Windows. Linux reader comes in two editions. The free version is just enough to access and copy files from the aforementioned filesystems from Windows OS. The paid version has many additional features such as data recovery, RAID recovery, partition recovery, VMFS recovery, MySQL recovery, NTFS recovery and photo recovery etc.
Access Linux Partitions From Windows 10 Using Linux reader
Go to the Linux reader website, download the free version and install it on your Windows system.
Launch Linux reader from the start menu:
Launch Linux reader
The default interface of Linux reader looks like below.
Access Linux Partitions From Windows 10 Using Linux reader
As you can see in the screenshot, Linux reader shows all Linux and Windows partitions. Open a Linux partition that you want to copy the data from. Right click on a file or folder and click the “Save” button.
Right click on a folder and click the Save button in Linux reader interface
Choose “Save files” and click Next.
Choose save files in Linux reader
Select the output folder location to save the files/folder. Also, make sure you have chosen the “Save directory structure” option. This option will preserve the same parent directory structure in the destination folder.
Select the output folder in Linux reader
In the next wizard, you will see the list of recovered files and directories. Choose the files or folders that you want to save in Windows and click Next.
Select list of recovered files and directories in Linux reader
Now, the selected files/folders will be recovered and saved in the destination location.
Recover files and folders using Linux reader
It will take some time depending on the contents of the selected files/folders from the Linux partition. Once the recovery is complete, choose the another file/folder and follow the same steps to recover them.
The other day I had to fix a high school student’s Laptop that is loaded with Windows and BOSS Linux (a Debian variant developed by CDAC, India). The Windows OS is corrupted, so I formatted the C drive and reinstalled it with Windows 10. After installing Windows, I copied the data from the Linux partitions and saved them in one of the Windows partitions using Linux Reader quickly and easily, without any Live CD or external drive.
Linux reader pro version has many useful features like mounting the Linux partition in Windows, recover erased files, recover NTFS, VMFS, RAID, deleted partitions, MySQL and Photo recovery. I just wanted to move the data from Linux partition to Windows, so the free version was just enough for me!
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