Purpose: Have you ever felt the pain of rebooting your dual-boot computer, having Linux and Windows XP install, back and forth to access/edit your data on your Linux partition? Yes, many of us have and it’s quite tedious. Accessing Windows partition from Linux is old school but there are very few utilities which would let you do the other way around – accessing Linux partitions from Windows XP. There is one such utility called Ext2 IFS for Windows, which allows you to access your ext2/ext3 partitions from Windows without having to reboot your system.

Example Scenario: I have a laptop with a single hard drive and I have Windows XP in one partition and Debian Linux in another.

Step 1: Download Ext2 IFS utility

From your Windows XP machine, download the utility (.exe file) from here. Keep on clicking next and say yes on check boxes like “Enable UTF-8 encoding” and “Enable the large file feature”.  After that the setup will install the driver files and you will be greeted with the following screen:

EXT2FS

EXT2FS

You basically have two options: Either you can manually assign the driver letters to your Linux partition (Z and Y in the above example) or you can click on the checkbox which says “Assign driver letter automatically…”.  I decided to assign driver letters manually because I some networks drivers which are mapped as E,F,G, etc.

Z driver = Linux root partition

Y drive = Linux Swap partition

C = Windows XP partition (system)

D = Data partition (FAT 32)

Step 2: Go to My Computer

After finish the installation, go to “My Computer” and you should be able to see your additional new drive letters for your Linux partition as follow:

ext2fs_2

Step 3: Finish

Congratulations!!! Now you can just double click those driver letters (Z), as if they were Windows partition, and access data. You can read/write the partition (data) unless you selected to make the partition as “readable” during installation in step 1.

ext2fs_3

Enjoy accessing your local Ext2/Ex3 partitions in Windows XP without rebooting.

Additional Notes:

  • Although the name of the utility has ext2 only in it’s name, it works fine perfectly with ext3.
  • There might be other utilities on the Internet which would allow you to do that but I have found this to be the most reliable and it works great for me. In fact I did found a utility called Linux Reader and whenever I try to access my Linux partition from it, I get the BSOD in Windows XP when I close that utility. So use it at your own risk.
  • One of the commenter mentioned about Ext2Fsd although I have not tried it.

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