I will be buying a 2TB hard drive soon, and would like to use it as media storage. I would like to be able to read/write from both Windows (version 7, 64bit) and Ubuntu Linux, and I need support for files greater than 4GB in size (so I think this rules out FAT32).

I'm using IFS drives at the moment to access my linux ext4 partitions, and I find it unstable. Does this mean NTFS? Is there something else I'm missing?


There are tools for using ext* under windows... but I would recommend NTFS as the *x-driver is quite stable nowadays.

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    What's the *x-driver ? Jan 8 '11 at 12:32
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    The package is called ntfs-3g. Depending on the Destribution you use you can find it in the repository. Or else: tuxera.com/community/ntfs-3g-download Jan 9 '11 at 6:30
  • I mount a NTFS partition on Linux and is working very good, so i wouldn't touch nor convert because I tried some solutions for EXT* on Windows and the most of them are not easy to setup, or doesn't work as expected. My choice for a shared FS drive is NTFS.
    – m3nda
    May 16 '15 at 11:21
  • @GeorgeProfenza Seems that him cut the term ext*. x-driver sound more like the X printer/screen driver of the X System OR . There's no x-driver term assign OR i cannot found them googling 2 minutes.
    – m3nda
    May 16 '15 at 15:52
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    @GeorgeProfenza I assumed he meant *nix but forgot the N and the I (to indicate unix/linux/etc) Dec 21 '16 at 11:09

First off, there will be some problems with NTFS if you use it in Linux:

  1. NTFS doesn't support file permission mode very well, so you'll lose the executable bit, setuid bit, etc.

  2. The ACL system in NTFS is not so comfortable with Linux, and you can't disable it like you can with FAT32.

  3. Currently, the performance of the NTFS implementation in Linux is not very good. For example, I found if I build a Maven project with NTFS, it is 3 more times slower than ext4.

Personally, I run Windows OS in VirtualBox, and make the virtual disk a raw NTFS image (see here). Since the NTFS image is now in raw format rather than.VDI, you can access the NTFS by mounting it directly, without loading the VM instance.

By using VirtualBox instead of Dual boots, there are several advantages:

  1. You don't have to convert your Linux partition to the NTFS file system. In VirtualBox, you can use Share Folder to access the host OS's file system. And it's very fast. Map it to a drive letter if necessary.

  2. You can work with both OSes concurrently, without needing to restart in order to switch from one to the other.

  3. Your GRUB loader will never be overwritten by Windows. Windows always overwrites your boot record and never prompts you with a yes or no.

  4. You will pay more attention to Linux, and then you'll learn the Linux way to do most of your work. In fact, I found it's rarely needed to turn on the Windows VM. Because people are lazy about learning new things if you install a dual system, and Windows is enough, why would you bother to boot into another OS?

I found this is the best way to make both Linux and Windows coexist. I have built several Windows VM instances for different usages, and because I don't install too many applications in each VM, they run fast and it doesn't feel too different from non-virtual machines.

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    Almost three years later... I really enjoyed your 4th point above! Is it correct that you can run Windows in VirtualBox (Linux host) and access (read/write) a shared folder on the Linux host (which is ext4)?
    – DustByte
    Jan 16 '14 at 11:19

I suggest to consider UDF 2.01. It is natively supported by both Windows and Linux kernels.

Under Windows, use format /FS:UDF to create this file system.

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    This appears to be a good solution to the question asked but your answer could do with a bit more detail for it to be a great answer. Do you have any experience using UDF on a hard disk? Are there any problems or benefits that might occur? How do you go about formatting the disk as UDF, can you do it in Windows or does it have to be done in Linux?
    – Mokubai
    May 25 '14 at 15:51
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    @Mokubai format /FS:UDF, it will format to UDF 2.01 by default but also you can specify a version
    – Anixx
    May 25 '14 at 16:06
  • Answers to askubuntu.com/q/27936/427339 suggests it was considered, tried, and is at best difficult to make work. I'd not trust it without much more testing than I feel it's worth putting in.
    – Iiridayn
    Jun 10 '19 at 20:10

If you can't find a stable IFS driver then NTFS will be your only easy choice. NTFS is much more stable than it once was under Linux.

I've not used ext4 from Windows, but I've found IFS drivers stable enough for ext2/3 so you could try the older Linux filesystem variants.

  • "NTFS is much more stable than it once was under Linux." When it was under Linux!?
    – Pranav
    Dec 18 '20 at 12:36
  • @Pranav - perhaps unclear wording on my part. There have been NTFS implementations in Linux for decades, but they used to be much less stable than they are these days. Dec 18 '20 at 12:42

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