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I wonder if there is a way to convert Windows partitions (NTFS) to Linux (Ext3 or Ext4) without losing their data. Actually I have a dual boot box with both Ubuntu and Windows 7 installed on it, but now I am in love with Ubuntu.
Also, while I am try to boot Windows 7 I get some disk read error so I want to convert Windows drives that contain my data to Linux drives without losing my data.


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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It is not possible. You will have to move your data to another partition and then reformat the drive. It is at the moment not even possible to convert from ext3 to ext4 completely. All the data which is not moved on the partition will still be ext3, as far as i know. But there should be coming a defragmentation tool, which moves every file to make a complete transition from ext3 to ext4 (For Ubuntu). You could still switch to ext4, files which don't get moved remain as "ext3" files.

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There is one scenario where this is possible. In my scenario I had a data partition that was more than 50% free.

You can:

  • use gparted to shrink this partition
  • create a temporary partition in newly vacant space
  • move the data in question to the other half of the partition
  • format the first partition to whatever
  • move the data back
  • delete the temporary partition
  • resize the first partition back to its original size

Moving partitions around is risky, but when external backup is not an option, it might work.

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