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access Linux files from Windows 10

What’s a Linux file system? Can I read Linux drive on Windows? How to access Linux files from Windows 10? A lot of users are confused about these questions. In the article, MiniTool will explore them one by one together with you.

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If you have a Linux distribution alongside a Windows system on the laptop or desktop, you may need to access Linux files from Windows 10. After analyzing lots of user reports on forums, we conclude the following questions that are frequently talked about. Let’s start exploring them in detail.

What’s Linux File System

In order to access Linux files from Windows successfully, the first thing you should figure out is what file system is supported by Linux. The common Linux Files Systems are Ext2, Ext3, and Ext4.

At present, Ext4 has become the default file system for most Linux distributions including Debian and Ubuntu. This is because the Ext4 provides more flexibility for storing large files than other extended file systems. It’s reported that the Ext4 can support storing a file up to 16TB and creating a partition up to 1EB.

Top recommendation: How to Install Linux (Ubuntu) on Windows 10 [Ultimate Guide 2021]

Can I Access Linux Files from Windows 10

There are a lot of users who have Windows 10 plus Linux dual boot or a hard drive formatted with Ext4. So, here comes a new question. Can I access Linux files from Windows 10? As discussed above, the most common Linux file system is Ext4. That is to say, you have to read Ext4 from Windows if you want to access Linux files.

However, the Ext4 file system is not supported by Windows. When right-clicking the Ext4 partition, you will find the Open and other function menus become greyed out. Obviously, you can’t access Ubuntu files from Windows directly. What can I do if I have to read Linux drive on Windows? Please keep reading the following part.

cant read Linux partition Windows 10

How to Access Linux Files from Windows 10

Since Windows 10 doesn’t offer any direct methods to access Ext4, you need to utilize some professional tools to access Linux files from Windows. Here we summarize top 4 Ext4 partition readers on Windows.

Method 1. Use Ext4 Partition Manager - MiniTool Partition Wizard

MiniTool Partition Wizard is an all-in-one partition manager that supports many file systems including FAT16/32, NTFS, exFAT, and Ext2/3/4, Linux Swap. With this powerful software, you can format a hard drive, convert NTFS to FAT, convert MBR to GPT, recover lost data, migrate OS to SSD/HD, rebuild MBR, and so forth.

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In order to access Ext4 from Windows smoothly, you can make it accessible by formatting it to NTFS. Although formatting will delete the data on the hard drive, MiniTool can help you restore the Ext4 partition data so that you can access Linux files from Windows 10.

Part 1. Read Linux Drive on Windows

Follow the steps below to format the Ext4 partition to NTFS or other file systems that are supported by Windows 10.

Step 1. Launch the MiniTool Partition Wizard to enter its main interface, and then right-click the Ext4 partition from the disk map and select Format.

select Format on MiniTool Partition Wizard

Step 2. In the pop-up window, select NTFS from the drop-down menu and click on OK to continue.

Step 3. Click on Apply button to execute the operation.

format Ext4 to NTFS using MiniTool software

Part 2: Restore Data from the Ext4 Partition

Now, you should make the Ext4 accessible on Windows 10. Another question is how to regain data from the formatted partition. Here MiniTool Partition Wizard is capable of restoring Ext4 partition data. Please continue with the following steps.

Tip: MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition doesn’t support data recovery. You need to install a professional edition or a more advanced edition to recover the lost partition.

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Step 1. In the main interface, select the partition that you just formatted to NTFS and click on Partition Recovery from the top toolbar. Click on Next in the pop-up window.

click on Partition Recovery

Step 2. Choose a scanning range based on your needs. There are 3 ranges to scan the disk including Full DiskUnallocated Space, and Specified Range. Here we take Full Disk for example and click on Next to go on.

determine the Scanning Range

Step 3. Select a scanning method to scan the disk and click Next to continue.

select a scanning method

Step 4. Make sure that you check all partitions including existing partitions and deleted/formatted partitions. Wait for some time until the scanning completes and click on the Finish button.

select all partitions in the list and click on Finish

Step 5. Click on Apply button to recover the formatted partition on the hard disk.

click on Apply to recover lost partitions

Up till now, the formatted partition should be recovered, and then you can read Linux partition Windows 10 and access its files.

Also, you can try the other three utilities to access Ext4 from Windows 10. Let’s keep reading!

Method 2. Use Ext2Fsd

Ext2Fsd is a Windows file system driver that supports the Ext2/3/4 file system. It allows you to read Linux partition Windows 10 and access Ubuntu files by mounting the Ext4 partition and assigning a drive letter. You can lunch the Ext2Fsd at every boot or only open it when you need it.

To access Ext4 from Windows, follow the steps below:

Step 1. Install this tool on your Windows 10 PC and launch the driver.

Note: If you don’t want to automatically launch the software at every boot, don’t tick the checkbox for Make Ext2Fsd automatically started when system boots.

install Ext2Fsd on Windows 10 PC

Step 2. In the main interface of Ext2Fsd, navigate to the Tools tab and select Service Management from the context menu.

Tip: If you haven’t set Ext2Fsd to automatically start at boot, you need to select Tools > Service Management > Start Ext2Fsd service before you access Linux files from Windows 10.

select Tools and Start Ext2Fsd service

Step 3. In the Ext2Fsd Service Management window, select the checkboxes for Mount all volumes in read-only mode and Assign drive letter automatically. Then click on Apply to execute the operation. After that, this tool will automatically mount and assign drive letters to the Linux partitions.

Mount all volumes in read only mode Ext2Fsd

Step 4. Press Win + E keys to open File Explorer, and then you will find the Ext4 partitions are mounted with their own drive letters and you can directly access Ubuntu files from Windows.

Method 3. Use DiskInternals Linux Reader

DiskInternals Linux Reader is a free utility to access Linux files from Windows 10. This tool can not only support the Ext4 file system but ReFS, HFS, and HFS+ file systems. Different from Ext2Fsd, this program allows you to read Linux drive on Windows within this application.

Step 1. Install DiskInternals Linux Reader on your Windows PC and launch it to enter the main interface.

Step 2. After the Linux Reader detects all partitions on your hard drive, navigate to the Ext4 partition from the list of drives.

Step 3. Double click the Ext4 partition to open it and then you can preview and access the saved data on the drive.

Step 4. If you want to make full use of the Linux files on Windows, you have to transfer the files from the Ext4 partition to another location that is supported by the Windows file system. Here right-click the file that you need and click on Save from the context menu.

click on Save on DiskInternals Linux Reader

Step 5. Select the Save Files option and click on Next button.

save the files to another location DiskInternals

Step 6. Click on Browse button to select a location where you save the file and click on OK. Then click on Next. Wait for some time until the file is saved to your selected location.

select a location to save files

Method 4. Use Ext2explore

Ext2explore is a practical explorer that can access Ext2/3/4 files on Windows 10. It works similarly to DiskInternals Linux Reader, but it doesn’t allow you to preview files using Ext2explore. This utility doesn’t have to be installed and you can run the .exe file directly.

Bear in mind that you must run the Ext2explore.exe program as an administrator, or you will receive an error message.

Step 1. Right-click the Ext2explore.exe file that you download to Windows PC and select Run as administrator.

Tip: Also, you can right-click the Ext2explore.exe and select Properties. Then go to the Compatibility tab and select the checkbox for Run this program as an administrator > OK.

run Ext2explore as an administrator

Step 2. Now, you can access the Ext4 partition and its Linux files. To open the files in the Windows system, you need to save them to the Windows partition. Right-click on the file and select Save, then navigate to another location to save files on the Windows system.

click on Save in Ext2explore

I have Windows 10 and Linux a dual boot system. Although Linux distribution has built-in support for Windows NTFS partition, Windows can’t read Linux drive. Fortunately, I found 4 effective methods to access Linux files from Windows 10. Probably you also need this post. Click to tweet

What’s Your Opinion

This post mainly focuses on how to access Linux files from Windows 10. You can choose one from the top 4 utilities to access Ext4 from Windows. If you have any better ideas on this topic, please share them in the comment area. Also, you can send us an email via [email protected] if you have any questions about the MiniTool software.

Access Linux Files from Windows 10 FAQ

How to transfer files from Windows to Linux?

After analyzing lots of user reports and references, we summarize the following 5 methods to transfer files between Windows and Linux.

  1. Use the Share network folders.
  2. Transfer files from Windows to Linux via FTP.
  3. Securely copy the files or folders to Linux via SSH.
  4. Share the files via sync software.
  5. Use the shared folder in Linux virtual machine.
How to mount a Linux folder in Windows?

Here are detailed steps to mount a Linux folder in Windows.

  1. Press Win + E keys to open the File Explorer, and then map your Linux home folder or directory on Windows.
  2. Click on Tools at the top menu and select Map network drive.
  3. Select the drive letter from the drop-down menu and click on Browse to select the folder that you want to mount.
  4. Click on Finish
How to access a network drive in Linux?
  1. Open a terminal on your Linux, and then type sudo apt-get install smbfs in it and hit Enter.
  2. Type the sudo yum install cifs-utils line in terminal and press Enter.
  3. Execute the sudo chmod u+s /sbin/mount.cifs /sbin/umount.cifs
  4. Use the cifs utility to map a network drive to storage.
How to access a shared folder in Linux?
The first and simplest method is to press Alt + F2 keys to open the Run dialog box, and then type smb:// followed by the IP address of your Linux sever and the folder name. Then click on the Run button.
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