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I have 1TB external HDD, the file system is NTFS
and i need to convert it to Ext3.
My operating system is Ubuntu 10.10
is there anyway to do so without losing my data??

Thanks for your help

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I've voted to move to superuser.com, but there it's likely to be closed as a dupe of superuser.com/questions/93721/… –  ThatGraemeGuy Feb 9 '11 at 19:15
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migrated from serverfault.com Feb 9 '11 at 19:21

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

4 Answers

Copy the data somewhere else, format, copy back.

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There's no way I know of to directly convert between these two filesystems.
My suggestion would be to copy (preferably using something like rsync that can restart if it gets interrupted) from your NTFS partition to a new EXT3 partition.

Alternatively if you don't have a spare disk big enough to do that you may be able to tar up the stuff on the NTFS drive (If you use the -j flag for bzip2 compression, you might manage to cut the size down by 20% or more assuming your data compresses nicely), then re-format and extract back onto the original drive.

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If you have spare room on the drive, you can shrink the NTFS partition using something like partition magic.

Then create a new volume group, logical volume and filesystem in the remaining space. Copy over your data.

Once you are sure your data is successfully copied, delete the NTFS partition, extend your volume group to reclaim space under ext3.

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A possible problem with this is that you cannot shrink move partition types from the beginning of the partition, only the end. Similarly, growing from the beginning has similar problems. Still, its a workable solution if you mess around a bit. –  PriceChild Feb 9 '11 at 20:02
    
Fun can be had with a bunch of (temporary) lvm pvs incrementally created from the end of the disk to fill space behind a shrinking NTFS partition, and later migrating off the pvs as a new ext3 partition is grown in the ntfs partition's place. GPT would even let you have almost any number of cute, tiny pvs. Squee! –  Eroen Mar 25 '12 at 3:14
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I think taking the disk-to-disk route is the way to go. Fundamentally, it is certainly straight-forward enough to create another partition, assuming you have room, but the far safer approach is to offload data to another drive, re-build your source disk however you want, and put data back.

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