Accessing Linux Partitions in Windows

If you are like me and dual boot your computer with Windows and Linux (pick a flavour, any flavour), then you might have come across the need to access your ext partitions while you are booted into Windows. While the opposite (accessing ntfs partitions in Linux) requires no “doing” as such, you do need additional tools to access those ext partitions in Windows.

The best tool that I have found for this is EXT2IFS or EXT2 Installable File System. This little tool is actually a kernel mode driver that lets you mount and access all your Linux partitions in your Windows system. The partitions appear as normal drives with drive letters and are visible in all file dialogs. On installation, you get to choose the drive letters you want to assign to your Linux partitions and this can also be later changed using the control panel plug-in. All the recognized Linux partitions are displayed to the user and you can choose the drive letters to assign to the partition from the available list.

The drives displayed with a drop down with available drive letters for easy allocation

The drives displayed with a drop down with available drive letters for easy allocation

This driver currently supports up to ext3 file system. You can even install Windows programs directly onto Linux partitions as if they were native Windows partitions. The Linux partitions can even be used by Windows as the location of the paging file. In short you can do everything without worrying about file system types.

The Linux partition can be used as the location of the Windows paging file

The Linux partition can be used as the location of the Windows paging file

This driver provides application level access so that you can protect the ext partitions from unwanted changes while using Windows. One of the few things that this driver does not allow for yet is booting of a Windows system from the Linux partitions and the use of the very entertaining defragmentation tool (I used to love seeing the little blocks jumping around).

Note: The screenshots are from the Ext2IFS website as I have now removed Windows completely after my laptop recently got a second lease on life.

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