Three Ways To Access Linux Partitions (ext2/ext3) From Windows On Dual-Boot Systems

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited 12/20/2007

If you have a dual-boot Windows/Linux system, you probably know this problem: you can access files from your Windows installation while you are in Linux, but not the other way round. This tutorial shows three ways how you can access your Linux partitions (with ext2 or ext3 filesystem) from within Windows: Explore2fs, DiskInternals Linux Reader, and the Ext2 Installable File System For Windows. While the first two provide read-only access, the Ext2 Installable File System For Windows can be used for read and write operations.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Explore2fs

In Windows, open a browser and go to http://www.chrysocome.net/explore2fs. Download the latest explore2fs zip file...

... and unpack it. In the new folder, you'll find the explore2fs executable. Double-click on it to start it:

The Explore2fs filebrowser starts; you can now browse your Linux partitions and copy&paste files to your Windows partition:

 

2 DiskInternals Linux Reader

Go to http://www.diskinternals.com/linux-reader and download and install the DiskInternals Linux Reader.

After the installation, the Linux Reader starts automatically and scans your hard drive for Linux partitions:

Afterwards, you can find your Windows and Linux partitions in the Linux Reader (which looks like the Windows Explorer):

Now you can browse your Linux partitions:

To copy a file/directory from a Linux partition to your Windows partition, right-click on the file/directory and select Save:

Then select the folder on your Windows partition where you want to store the file/directory:

The DiskInternals Linux Reader can be started from the normal start menu:

 

3 Ext2 Installable File System For Windows

The Ext2 Installable File System For Windows (which supports ext2 and ext3!) can be downloaded from http://www.fs-driver.org/index.html. During the installation you will be asked to assign a drive letter to your Linux partitions (e.g. L:); you don't need to assign a drive letter to your swap partition:

After the installation, you can find your Linux partition(s) in the normal Windows Explorer (under the drive letter that you assigned to it during the installation):

You can now browse and use your Linux partition(s) like a normal Windows partition.

As mentioned in the introduction of this article, the Ext2 Installable File System For Windows supports read and write operations on the Linux partitions. In order to test if the write support really works, we can try to create an empty folder on a Linux partition. Right-click on an empty area on the Linux partition and select New > Folder:

Enter a name for the new folder (e.g. test):

If everything goes well, you should now have a new folder on your Linux partition.

 

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From: sunjester at: 2009-04-07 12:25:26

None of the options above helped me access my ubuntu files (ext3).

From: at: 2008-01-17 22:43:30

ext2fsd supports read/write access to ext2/ext3 partitions (including non-English file name encoding).


ext2ifs development seems to have stopped for more than a year now.


 

From: at: 2008-01-18 10:53:48

ext2ifs does have a new version on the way. Just taking some time from what the developer said when i emailed him. Next version is to support utf-8, xp x64, vista x86 and x64 as well as few little other fixes and features.

From: at: 2008-01-18 12:28:54

It is a security risk, though. Having a dual boot computer all in all, but also installing these programs.


I had used Ext2 and it doesn't request any passwords when you mount your password protected partitions. This means the linux drives are vulnerable to attacks.


changemod 

From: at: 2008-01-24 23:22:55

It's been bugging me for such a long time, because I made my user profile's "Documents" point to my documents folder on my ubuntu partition. Unfortunately all those names are in UTF-8, and Vista writes them in cp1251 (or sth like that) - essentially an iso8859-1 extension. All in all it makes have to name all my docs with standard A-Z latin characters, which blows if you're not in an English speaking country!


 As for EX2IFS supporting EXT3 - that is totally NOT true. The log is never touched, and therefore out of sync whenever a change happens, so each time I reboot into Linux I go through a loooong fsck...

From: at: 2008-02-04 09:04:36

You can access that partitions with colinux and Virtualbox and then just share the folders form the linux VM. That way you can just share what you need.

From: Diederik van Lierop at: 2008-09-27 16:19:40

Please note that EXT2IFS won't work when the number of inodes is not exactly 128, which is the case in my default Fedora installation for some reason.


A fourth option would be to use Total Commander (shareware), which has an EXT2 plugin. At least that's what I've been told ;-)


 


Falko, thanks for this excellent summary!

From: Ales at: 2009-03-23 08:52:11

Hello!


I Just wanted to say that I tried all of them (plus Ext2fsd - http://ext2.yeah.net) and none worked (don't know why, but most only listed my linux partitions, but could not open them).


The thing that did work is the plugin for Total commander mentioned in one of the previous comments.


Btw, I do not know if this matters, but I have a 64 bit system, where the ext3 partition was formated when installing a 64 bit Ubuntu, while I tired these software WinXP (32 bit).

From: Anonymous at: 2009-02-16 21:13:15

worked great on my laptop, slightly older version of suse on there tho.. 10 i think? Then i went to try it on my pc with suse 11... fail.. to bad tho, it is a nice simple lil proggie, and backing up all my partitions is like a joke haha. I hope to see it updated to be more compatible with the 256!! Keep up the good work!!

From: Anonymous at: 2009-03-02 23:17:37

Seems like the third method is better than the others all around.  Why bother even mentioning them?

From: John Newbigin at: 2009-06-15 02:27:17

If Explore2fs is not working for you, you can try Virtual Volumes. This is the new version of Explore2fs. It has many new features and I am happy to add more if your filesystem is not yet supported.


 http://www.chrysocome.net/virtualvolumes


John. 

From: Anonymous at: 2009-08-14 16:19:41

Because the third method uses the FS driver which only supports inodes of 128, but some newer Linux distros will use twice that amount and it will not work. Virtual Volumes is the only one that can do the job right.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-12-22 07:14:28

your program worked for me when the others wouldn't.  ubuntu 9.10

From: nyaargh at: 2009-10-21 16:27:29

Ext2IFS works with Windows 7 64-bit, just make sure that before you install it you set it run in Compatibility mode.  mine worked by choosing Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)


 btw,  does anyone know which one of 3 is the fastest during file transfer?  i'm using e-sata and speed is just about 3MB/s

From: Anonymous at: 2009-10-03 14:31:04

linux dont like getting humped buy windows


you just cant mount from/with windows


such dirty talk


mounting this and mounting that lol


thank for tip though it willo come in handy since im only running a 10 gig partion of nix


even if it dose have to scan the whole thing each time

From: Lucas Vieites at: 2009-09-11 10:33:48

Well, it's all said in the subject. Every time I access a file on my Linux partition (ext3) from Windows, at the next reboot into Linux the filesystem gets checked. It takes quite a while to check a 300GB hard disk, so it's quite annoying.

From: dwalls at: 2009-09-11 07:13:07

They don't work for me either. Using dual boot, with Ubuntu 9.04, and ext3. The only way to access the files is to boot into Ubuntu, copy the files to the Windows partition and restart into Windows. Tedious!

From: master.y0da at: 2010-01-13 02:53:06

DiskInternals Linux Reader (#2) worked perfectly for me on Windows 7. Thanx a lot!


#1 & #3 unfortunately didn't.



From: Anonymous Lars at: 2010-01-22 21:03:24

I tried the first two as well: Disk Internals Linux Reader, and explore2fs. Neither one seemed to be able to read my 256-byte inode ext3 and ext4 fs's.


Thanks for the pointer to Virtual Volumes. I'll give it a try.


 

From: Anonymous Lars at: 2010-01-22 21:28:16

P.S. I tried Virtual Volumes, and indeed it does seem to work for accessing my ext3 fs with 256-byte inodes! Hoorah.


But it does not recognize my ext4 fs. (Which is ok for me, but I'm lucky that I didn't make my home partition ext4.)


Also, VV is still in beta, so beware. There is still definitely a need out there for mature ext* fs access software that is *known* (and documented) to work for ext4, and for 256-byte-inode ext3. Whoever does this work will be benefiting a lot of people as newer versions of Linux are being installed alongside Windows.


Let's all donate to Virtual Volumes! :-)


 


 

From: Anonymous at: 2010-07-22 14:51:15

#2 was an absolute life saver! Thanks!

From: Singgih Octafianto at: 2010-11-17 15:11:15

lucky you. mine does not work on 7. already install it as administrator, even try to run it as administator. *sigh

From: Anonymous at: 2010-12-19 01:23:45

If a 3rd party application can mount and share the ext partitions to users without needing passwords, then the ext partitions were NOT protected with passwords. One can have an 'agreement to check login info to access' but if its not enforced on the disk volume, its just that 'an option'.

From: Cflute at: 2010-12-03 15:56:58

This worked perfectly for me (from Windows XP - haven't tried Windows 7 yet. I have seen no problems with ext3 file systems and fsck.


Thanks!


 


 

From: Dalemite at: 2011-02-09 02:48:20

DiskInternals could not break the security on my Linux drive.


Explore2fs, however, worked perfectly under Win7 64.  Remember to run it as administrator.  Toodles.

From: Anonymous at: 2011-02-12 20:00:10

I have the same problem, too, using ext2ifs.  If you find a solution, please post.

From: true911 at: 2011-03-27 16:54:59

DiskInternals' Linux Reader raises several alerts on VirusTotal.  If there's a legitimate reason for it, then the author should file the anomaly with the AV vendors in question to remove the alert.

If a tool can't be located via CNet, SoftPedia, or one of the other "virus-free" sites, there might be a very good reason, since their mission is to make useful software available.

Be wary when downloading "free" software directly from an independent site.

From: Anonymous at: 2011-04-20 14:41:05

Against my better judgement I purchased a WD NAS drive and you guessed it. The darn thing turned itself into a brick. Fortuneately the driv is still working, the NAS connection circuits are very dead.

After a bit of searching I found Explore2FS and it reads the WD NAS drive fine. Now just to sit back for 10-20 hours and wait for it to all copy to a new drive.

From: Andréas Ek at: 2011-05-03 08:02:22

Hey!

I have the same problem as you...

A bricked MyBook World where the drives were in RAID1 mode...

Now I installed the "explore2f" and it finds the drive and the folders,

but I can't locate the files! Do you know were to find the Shared-folders?

Were I find the partitions like the "Public" folder it is just empty... Do I have to "mount" the drive?!

 Appriciate your help!

/Andréas

From: Anonymous at: 2011-07-23 16:35:55

very good post, thanks

From: Abhishek Tyagi at: 2011-11-25 19:17:47

Hello There !
I just wanted to say Thanx for this post, Coz this helped me a lot lot lot, Other wise I almost lost my files at Linux partition. Thanx a billion again . GOD Bless U.

From: Kenny Johnson at: 2011-12-23 22:42:02

I'm in the same boat:  Dealing with a WD NAS that was RAID 1.

 Did you ever find a solution to this?  I can read the Shares folders (They were the partitions) but they are empty; no files.

 Anyone have a solution?  The Virtual Volumes, Expolor2fs, Ubuntu, etc all see the same info, but not the files.

 

TIA

 

 

From: Immanuel at: 2012-02-11 04:07:04

thanks ... 2nd method worked for me 

From: Anonymous at: 2012-02-12 19:58:27

Thanks! It worked for me running windows 7 64 bit. I had to change the compatibility for all users so when I put in the administrator password that account was running in the same mode I had selected with my non admin account.

From: Phil at: 2012-03-05 21:53:52

What can I say..... but thanks for this !!  Another WD NAS unit fail.... Just glad the unit failed before the drive..... Got all my goodies back...

Thanks a million!

 

Phil

From: Veselin Tonchev at: 2013-03-16 14:07:04

Verry helpful. Thank you

From: Chungalin at: 2013-05-11 11:35:26

I’ve received a 500GB HDD with a Digital Cinema Package and I’ve tried to check contents under Windows. First I’ve tried Ext2ifs, because it looks the most integrated solution of all. It detects the drive and partition, but when trying to access it, raises an error and refuses to show any contents.

Next I’ve tried explore2fs. It detects partition, shows no error but drive is empty (and I know it’s not).

Finally, Linux Reader shows and reads all expected contents from the drive.

From: Bhagyashree at: 2013-06-15 19:53:07

Great! I came across this software ("http://techwikasta.com/2012/05/how-to-access-linux-files-from-windows/") and installed it. It made my access to linux though windows much easier ! :)

From: Rob at: 2013-07-15 14:28:08

I’ve tried new free Paragon Extfs for Windows and it seems to be working well. Read write operations as well as support ext4 and also ext3 and ext2. Very easy compare to these ones above.

From: kyungsu at: 2013-11-13 01:34:02

So helpful thanks a log.

From: Anonymous at: 2013-12-09 17:33:11

Brilliant> My WD mybook world (blue rings) unit completely failed but the drives were fine. WD said I had to send it into a $$$ Data Recovery service. I knew this type of software existed so I just persisted until this came up. Exploref2 did not work so I used DiskInternals Linux Reader which worked perfectly. Simple set up and easy copying of files.

 Thank you again. I will post a link to this page and hopefully it will help others.

 

From: kumara at: 2014-07-23 16:59:41

Thank you. It helps lot.