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Is there a way to read ext4 partitions from Windows? If so, what can I do?

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    Try Linux Reader by Diskinternals, it's the best tool I have found that really works well. Unlike Ext2Fsd, Ext2Read or Ext4Explorer which don't even give you basic information like how many files you have when you open up a folder. – Samir May 24 '13 at 17:24
  • @Samir Linux Reader does not work at all under Windows 10. Cannot open by itself (inside list of drives) and when trying to mount under drive letter, throws a lot of nags about the need of purchasing pro version and mounts a drive that has only one file on it, called "Storage" in size of entire disk. – trejder Sep 4 '20 at 18:15
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    In 2020, it is now possible to access Linux filesystems with WSL: devblogs.microsoft.com – hlg Dec 18 '20 at 11:46

10 Answers 10

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Ext2Read works well. It can also open & read disk images ( eg: Wubi disk images)

Ext2Read is an explorer like utility to explore ext2/ext3/ext4 files. It now supports LVM2 and EXT4 extents. It can be used to view and copy files and folders. It can recursively copy entire folders. It can also be used to view and copy disk and file

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    There are several reviews on the site of users complaining about virus infection. Ad-Aware reported it as infected to me. I'll do some more testing on my side and report this to project's mailing list. As for the report, it seems that Anubis is down at the moment. The PDF version of the report is here. It clearly shows where the virus is poking. – AndrejaKo Sep 13 '10 at 17:47
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    Here are results of VirusTotal and Anubis (from a clean system). To me it looks like it's poking around in registry where is shouldn't be poking around. – AndrejaKo Sep 13 '10 at 18:11
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    On the other hand here are VirusTotal results for previous version and Anubis results for previous version. The poking around the registry could come form the crash. I'm still not sure what to make of it. – AndrejaKo Sep 13 '10 at 22:47
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    It doesn't support removable devices. Try putting a SD card with an Ext4 partition on it inside a SD card reader and try reading it with this software. It won't work. It only supports internal HDD devices. For external and removable, get Linux Reader by Diskinternals. – Samir May 24 '13 at 16:35
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    Newest release of ext2read/ext2explore is also infected so be careful while downloading this software. Take a look at this VirusTotal report – JNLK Dec 15 '16 at 12:33
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DiskInternals Linux Reader

This program plays the role of a bridge between your Windows and Ext2/Ext3/Ext4, HFS and ReiserFS file systems.

Linux Reader Website

Features

  1. Integrated with Windows Explorer
  2. Reader for Ext2/3/4, ReiserFS, Reiser4, HFS, HFS+, FAT, exFAT, NTFS, ReFS, UFS2
  3. Can create and open disk images
  4. Freeware

enter image description here

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    This does work to browse even large partitions of 500GB on an MBR partitioned disk, including ext4. However it's only a recovery (copy to another partition) tool, with preview of files but no way to open them. – RichVel Apr 30 '15 at 6:13
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    Looks like we can only read files this way. We can not copy new files to ext4 drive thi way – Jeegar Patel Mar 19 '18 at 19:10
  • Didn't work for me for a SD-card, ext2read did though. – Lennart Apr 14 '18 at 17:16
  • Does not work at all under Windows 10. Cannot open by itself (inside list of drives) and when trying to mount under drive letter, throws a lot of nags about the need of purchasing pro version and mounts a drive that has only one file on it, called "Storage" in size of entire disk. – trejder Sep 4 '20 at 18:13
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WARNING
According to multiple reports, it does not work on Windows 10 version 1909 and later

EXT2FSD works for reading ext4 filesystems, though not all of ext4's capabilities are supported.

After installing set a letter to each Linux drive (see screen-shot) and then restart the application. After that Windows Explorer will show the Linux partitions as any other partition.

setting a letter to a Linux drive

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    I wanted to recommend the same app, but I was put off by the comments. If it worked for you, edit your response to let the OP know it works. Positive feedback on an app is important. – alex Sep 8 '09 at 6:15
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    It apparently works if the ext4 was created without the extent option. See soluvas.com/… – harrymc Nov 15 '09 at 8:37
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    In Windows 7: I see no features missing in ext4. All options available in the Windows Explorer. -- what ext4 capabilities are you referring to? – user162573 Mar 8 '16 at 20:17
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    Tried on Windows 10: Easy to install (avoiding the hindrances-warnings of windows). I could easily mount ext3 and ext4 partitions of Ubuntu 14.04 to both read and write. Just smooth. Great job. – loved.by.Jesus Sep 4 '16 at 17:13
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    As of Windows 10 version 1909, this doesn't appear to work. After I mount a ext4 partition and is assigned a drive letter, double-clicking the drive says that I have to Format it first (which, of course, I don't want to do). :( – NYCeyes Jan 12 '20 at 3:05
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Well not really a solution, but I use VirtualBox, use it as a bridge.

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    In windows add a raw disk, install a linux guest OS, add a shared folder, then you can read/write ext4 in virtualBox. – Kaizoku Dec 24 '09 at 14:10
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    how would one add a raw disk? – Babu May 17 '10 at 5:33
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    elaboration of the answer would help – Anwar Dec 9 '14 at 13:08
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    @Anwar Lifehacker has a tutorial on this, see lifehacker.com/how-to-dual-boot-and-virtualize-the-same-partition-on-y-493223329 – Ragnar123 Jul 21 '15 at 11:49
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    VirtualBox's documentation on raw disks: virtualbox.org/manual/ch09.html#rawdisk – Warty Oct 13 '15 at 7:53
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There is now another solution: Paragon ExtFS for Windows, which acts as a file system driver and so you don't need to use a specialized program to access your files.

From the website:

  • Fast and easy read/write access to Ext2 / Ext3 / Ext4 under Windows
  • The only solution with Ext4 read - write support!
  • Easy-to-install and supports Windows 8 / 7 / Vista / XP

edit 2015-04-06 you might want to stick to read files off Linux - there have been anecdotal reports of file system corruptions when writing files to ext4 partitions using Paragon

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  • I had never seen it before, but seems solid. I'm testing it now. – Paulo Coghi Jun 12 '14 at 13:53
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    Or so I thought before getting my partition corrupted. Apparently I'm not the only one. hecticgeek.com/2014/02/extfs-windows-corrupts-ext4-windows-8 – Alicia Apr 1 '15 at 18:32
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    Note that this software is for personal use only. – starbeamrainbowlabs Sep 24 '15 at 18:46
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    Just used it, I did set to "read-only", but still got the disk corruption. Going back to ext2fs, take extreme care when using this. – Adversus Nov 4 '16 at 8:50
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    @Adversus knows whats up. Do not use this. I too suffered disk corruption and trying to help them out by providing logs and such yielded one of the worst support conversations I have ever had. – Erin Schoonover Mar 26 '17 at 20:28
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WSL2 on Windows 10 Build 20211

Windows allows now to mount physical disks using the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL).

For people who are not familiar with WSL2:

... Windows Subsystem for Linux is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables natively on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019. In May 2019, WSL 2 was announced, introducing important changes such as a real Linux kernel, through a subset of Hyper-V features. ...

find more on Wikipedia

The Windows 10 WSL2 now supports a mount command for linux filesystems called wsl.

First of all you have to install WSL2 on your windows10+ release. I recommend to simply follow the microsoft installation guide (note the minimum version required).

The following steps are taken from the microsoft's homepage docu wls2-mount-disk :

  • Identify the disk

    Open a powershell (or something else) and type

    wmic diskdrive list brief
    

    The disks paths are available under the 'DeviceID' columns. Usually under the \.\PHYSICALDRIVE* format.

  • List and select the partitions to mount in WSL2

    Note your disk to mount and enter:

    wsl --mount <DiskPath> --bare
    

    Now the disk is available to the layer and you can use the common linux command

    lsblk
    

    as you know well from linux systems.

  • Mount the selected partitions

    Identify your partitons and mount it using the following command

    wsl --mount <DiskPath> --partition <PartitionNumber> --type <Filesystem>
    

    If you ommit the --partition flag an ext4 filesystem will be choosen. Commands like help wsl or cat /proc/filesystems will give you more information about the options.

  • Access the disk content

    Once mounted, the disk can be accessed under the path pointed to by the config value: automount.root. The default value is /mnt/wsl .

    From Windows, the disk can be accessed from File Explorer by navigating to: \\wsl$\\<Distro>\\<Mountpoint> (pick any Linux distribution).

  • Unmount the disk

    To unmount and detach the disk run:

     wsl --unmount <DiskPath>
    
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    wsl --mount option is only available to those using Windows 10 Build 20211, which is in the Insiders update channel as of the time of the writing (according to docs.microsoft.com/pt-br/windows/wsl/wsl2-mount-disk) – Dinei Apr 18 at 4:29
  • you are right - it's the insider version, however it will be soon implemented in the standard option. – abu_bua Apr 18 at 18:28
  • Yes. I just wanted to clarify just in case anyone looks for this option while it is not widely available. – Dinei Apr 18 at 18:37
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ext4explorer

Ext4Explore is a program that allows Linux partitions to be browsed from Microsoft Windows. It has a GUI which will be familiar to users of Windows Explorer.

Ext4Explore Web Site

Features

  1. Displays Windows Icons
  2. Symbolic Links Displayed with 'Shortcut' Overlay
  3. Follows Symbolic Links and Displays Correct File Information
  4. Copy Files and Directories
  5. Configurable Edit Context Menu Option

enter image description here

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    It doesn't support EFI partitions! – user2284570 Sep 9 '14 at 20:38
  • I tried the latest version with Windows 10 and a USB with a ext4 formatted partition. The program only reported "No linux partitions found." I guess Windows 10 is a at present. – will Oct 2 '18 at 2:42
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If you want to dual boot Ubuntu (or any Linux-based OS) with Windows and read ext3/ext4 filesystem, you can use Ext2FSD. Although you may need to take special steps as explained below.

I’ve successfully used Ext2fsd on Windows 7 to read my ext4 (!) filesystem this way.

For those interested, more detailed how-to is here: Read ext3/ext4 Partition from Windows 7:

Originally Posted by berm0o0da on August 29, 2010 :

The newest version of Ext2Read open source software can read normal Ext4 filesystems from Windows, even with ‘extents’ feature bit enabled! Please share your experience with this software in the comments.

enter image description here

If you use Windows 7 and want to dual-boot Ubuntu (or another Linux-based operating system), you’ll want to be able to read Ubuntu files from Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

From Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10 ext4 filesystem uses by default, and previous versions use ext3 and ext2 filesystems. There are several good options to read and write ext2 filesystems from Windows systems, but ext3 or ext4 support is an entirely different scenario.

enter image description here

I tried three different software to read my ext4 partition: Ext2fsd, Ext2IFS, andDiskInternal Linux Reader. Ext2IFS fails to mount my ext4 partition due to unknown feature bit AND because my partition has inode size of 256 (Ext2IFS only supports inode size 128). DiskInternal Linux Reader apparently tries to scan my harddisk forever.

With Ext2fsd, I’ve successfully accessed my ext4 filesystem from Windows 7. Here I’ll show you the steps to make it happen:

  1. When creating/formatting the ext4 filesystem, make sure to add -O ^extent which means disabling the “extent” feature bit. The following steps will not work if your ext4 filesystem still has “extent” feature enabled. ext2 and ext3 partitions should be fine.
  2. Download ext2fsd here.

  3. Right-click the downloaded file and click Properties. Set the compatibility mode to “Windows Vista Service Pack 2″ and check “Run as administrator”.

  4. Run the ext2fsd installer. During install, I recommend you uncheck the “enable write access” feature to safeguard against losing data in your Linux partitions.
  5. Restart Windows 7.
  6. Run the Ext2 Volume Manager from Start Menu.

Now you should be able to mount your Linux ext2/ext3/ext4 partitions from Windows 7 and read the files without any trouble.

These steps should also work on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP, only that you will not need to enable compatibility mode (step 3).

note : You should run this program as an administrator. Use it and enjoy 😉

Hope this helps!

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    Not found! a 404 error – Anwar Dec 9 '14 at 13:10
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    Everything is fixed now. I added the explanation from the downed weblog so even if the archived version goes away, everything stays on SO! – Rika Jan 19 '19 at 8:24
  • Why all the downvotes on this answer? Seems super weird given how thorough and how correct it looks. Makes me skeptical though seeing -3 on it, with it greyed out and hidden by default. – Gabriel Staples Jul 26 '19 at 8:35
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DiskGenius is available as a free, versatile partition manager, running under Windows OS, up to and including Windows 10 v. 1909, that includes the ability to read extn (i.e., ext, ext2, ext3 & ext4)partitions. It allows full access to files and folders in those partitions. (There are also commercially licensed versions, but for the use described, the free versions should be sufficient.)

It also provides access to virtual disks created by some disk imaging software, such as Macrium Reflect. Reflect enables one to mount a disk image as a virtual disk, but browsing the image can only be done for file systems for which Windows has drivers. However, the mounted image can be explored in DiskGenius.

[Sadly, Ext2Fsd does not work on my current version of Windows, and Ext2Fsd has not been updated in years. It would have been nice to add drivers directly to Windows OS.]

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  • This is NOT free. – Phill Jul 9 '20 at 13:54
  • @Phill, There are currently 3 versions of DiskGenius: Free, Standard and Professional. For the use described, free is sufficient. See diskgenius.com/editions.php The paid versions have additional features, such as file recovery. – DrMoishe Pippik Jul 9 '20 at 18:46
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    If you want to copy a 1gb file (not recover it) you need the pro version. So it's not free. Not a good solution for just being too lazy to boot into linux and move a file and boot back into windows. – Phill Jul 10 '20 at 4:11
  • @Phil, your comment does not apply to the question: simply how to read ext4 files from Windows. No mention of length, nor even access to Linux. – DrMoishe Pippik Jul 10 '20 at 16:38
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    So “read” is “I can see the file exists” and that’s it. No ability to open the file, copy, move, etc. Just see it exists? – Phill Jul 12 '20 at 0:54
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Ext2Fsd was common in the past, but it's usually outdated and constantly broken in newer Windows in my experience. You can also see that in many comments. There's a fork of it called Ext4Fsd

This is a branch of the Ext2Fsd project by Matt Wu where I try to implement support for metadata checksums and jbd2. I have also updated the project so it can be compiled with Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio 2019. This is work in progress. If you need a stable driver you should get the latest official release from http://www.ext2fsd.com.

You can try it at your own risk

Ext4Fsd is an ext2/3/4 file system driver for Windows (XP/Vista/7/8/10). It's a free and open-source software, everyone can modify or distribute under GNU GPLv2.

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