This article guides you on how you can access Linux File-system Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4 partitions in Windows and automatically keep them mounted in Explorer like other NTFS or FAT32 partitions. You can even read or write to those partitions.

While Windows uses NTFS and FAT32 file-system, Linux (such as Ubuntu) uses extended file-system architectures Ext 3, Ext4, etc. Though Linux can access, read and write to Windows file-systems, Windows can’t access Linux file-systems. I mean, Windows has no support to read or access Ext3 or Ext4 partitions.

Mount Linux Ext Partition in Windows

Thus, if you have a dual-boot or multi-boot system where you can switch between Windows and Linux from boot menu, you may sometimes need access to Linux drives/partitions. Or suppose, you are on Windows and you have an HDD or removable drive which is formatted in Ext3 and now you need to read files inside it. Or your Linux system is crashed and you need to recover your important files using Windows. In such cases your need to read those file-systems without switching from Windows.

Though Windows had never interest on Linux file-systems, fortunately there are third-party drives and tools to open and read Linux partitions from Windows. We will review multiple tools in a future article. However, here we will use an opensource Linux file-system driver called Ext2Fsd which is solely made to bring Ext2/3/4 support in Microsoft Windows. With this you can automatically mount Ext partitions on boot or mount just when you need.

Mount Linux Ext4/3/2 Partitions in Windows Explorer using Ext2Fsd

  1. Download Ex2Fsd from sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsd/.
  2. While installing, mark “Make Ext2Fsd automatically started when system boots” and hit Next and finish the setup. It will auto-start Ex2Fsd driver with Windows from next reboot.
    Auto run Ext2Fsd
  3. Start Ext2Fsd Volume Manager. With this, you can set mount point and settings.Ex2Fsd Volume Manager
  4. To assign a volume latter, double-click on the partition (or choose the partition and select Tools > Ex2 Volume Management), enable “Mountpoint for fixed disk” and assign a drive letter. Hit Apply then.
    Configure fixed mount point
  5. On next reboot of Windows, you will see your desired Linux partition is mounted in Explorer as other standard partitions.Linux partition mounted in Windows
  6. You can also set your custom name by renaming the default name “Local Disk”. That’s it.

Note 1: Keeping your Linux partitions read-only is recommended so that you or your system cannot introduce any harm to the Linux system.

Note 2: If you don’t want Ext2Fsd automatically mount a disk in Explorer on boot, you can mark “Automatically mount via Ex2Mgr”. With this, your partition will only mount when you open Ex2Fsd Volume Manager as below:

Auto mount via Ex2Fsd Manager

Note 3: At the installation time of Ext2Fsd, if you didn’t set Ex2Fsd service to automatically start with windows, you need to manually start the service from Tools > Service Management > Start as below:

Start Ext2fsd service

Recovering Personal Files

If you are looking for accessing your personal files that your stored when you were on Linux, head to home\name\ as below:

Access Linux user documents from Windows

Though this guide is made on Windows 7, I have tested it on Windows 10 and should also work on Windows 8.x according to its authors. Being able to view and read all partitions from both OS is obviously a cool feature for those who use both Linux and Windows on same machine.

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Author: 

Jaber is a tech enthusiast, geek and web worm from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is the founder and Chief-Editor of TechGainer. While he is away from his keyboard, either he's fishing or messing with wildlife. In case, you can contact him at rijans[at]techgainer[dot]com.