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I have a Linux hard drive that I can plug into an external USB interface. From Windows it only shows up as an un-partitioned drive. How do I read from this?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm assuming it's formatted as ext2 or ext3? The Ext2 IFS for Windows driver should do the trick.

You could also run Cooperative Linux in Windows and access your drive that way.

A bit of background on the type of file system you're trying to read, as well as your Windows version would help us answer your question more accurately.

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+1 for Cooperative Linux. – grs Aug 4 '11 at 3:36

(as a side comment: there is no 'the linux' filesystem, people use lots of different filesystems to store their data to)

to be absolutely on the sure side and be prepared to read anything: setup a virtual machine ('vmware', 'virtualbox' etc), install a linux into it, mount the external disk and read data through the virtual machine into your host system.

the simpler way is obviously to use 'ext2ifs' (as john and njd answered).

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Even if he installs Linux in a virtual machine will not be "absolutely on the safe side". Any Linux will come with a set of filesystems, but he might need to install extra packages to read Reiserfs, JFS and many others. This is not necessary, it involves extra complexity and work. – grs Aug 4 '11 at 3:33
@grs: 'installing linux' means 'not only the kernel, but all the stuff he needs to get the job done, INCLUDING the fs-stuff for the filesystem he used on the hd'. he has to install something anyway to access the fs from windows. so, i do not see your point. the best support for the linux-based filesystems IS in the linux-kernel (or fuse). – akira Aug 4 '11 at 6:14

Windows can't read the Linux file system.

You need some software which can read ext2/ext3 filesystems, like Ext2 IFS

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For read-only access to Linux and Mac filesystems such as Ext2/3/4, ReiserFS, HFS, HFS+ Linux Reader is a great tool. To me looks like an extra hassle to install a virtual machine just to read a file from external drive.

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yah, and now OP wants to access xfs or ... ufs ... what now? :) do not drop my last statement of my answer 'the simpler way is obviously to use 'ext2ifs' (as john and njd answered).', if you would have posted your stuff 1.5 years ago i would have included you in that part. it's obviously simpler to not use a virtualmachine, but with a virtualmachine you are running linux and you would access the disk like you would access it from a normal linux. – akira Aug 4 '11 at 6:16
@akira: OK, we are on the same page then. – grs Aug 4 '11 at 14:16

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