I understand that there are several alternatives for using/accessing ext2/ext3 in Windows, such as those described in a HOWTO Forge article and in a another article from a year ago. However, none of the listed items provide full read-write access to a fully implemented ext3. That is, the two read-write options seem to not support the ext3 journal. (ext2fsd will replay a non-empty journal, but otherwise doesn't use it, it looks like. ext2fs.sys doesn't seem to use the journal at all.)

Is anyone aware of a driver I can install in Windows to provide full read-write access to ext3 partitions, including the journal, user rights, selinux attributes (if possible, at least preserve them) and other extended attributes?

Have any of you actually used one of these drivers? Currently, I share data between OSes on a dual-boot system via a FAT32 partition. I know that I could use NTFS, which has read-write access under Linux. However, if it is possible, I would prefer to use ext3.


Unfortunately, there is no such driver (or if there is the author(s) chose not to publish.) All the existing drivers are of questionable quality - I have had data corruption issues with all of them. I would stick with ntfs-3g.

Edit: Just to clarify - by "all the existing drivers" I do mean all the existing drivers. That includes the commercial ones. None handle all common scenarios correctly (such as proper journal replay, unclean shutdowns, etc.)

  • Agreed. I have also found ntfs-3g to be the best solution after having issues with Windows ext3 drivers. – Mark May 2 '09 at 9:47
  • I use an NTFS partition to move files from one PC to another (with the included driver in Ubuntu), and I've never had any problems with it... Then again maybe I'm not pushing the limits of the NTFS implementation. – Ivan May 2 '09 at 14:10
  • Thank you -- this is more valuable information than I've found in any review. – Eddie May 2 '09 at 15:47

The way I solved this problem is through Ubuntu 9.04 guest in VirtualBox. I made VirtualBox guest see the host's USB with ext3. Then I mounted /dev/sdb2 under /media and copied all the files I needed to the folder shared between Windows host and Ubuntu guest. A bit laborious but surely beats fighting the buggy ext3 drivers on Windows (I tried 3 of them with no success) and risking the loss of data. In case you do nto have it already, setting up Ubuntu in VirtualBox on Windows is a piece of cake and works great both installing from scratch or just downloading an image from http://virtualbox.wordpress.com/images/ubuntu/ Hope this helps.

  • I've used colinux for this sort of thing in the past. – TRS-80 Jun 30 '09 at 9:42

I'm using http://fs-driver.org/ for a few years. It does not provide all the features you require, but at least it does understand utf-8 file names, and I've never experienced any data corruption with it (may be I'm lucky?)

Another known workaround is to use a small coLinux installation on windows, give it full access to your linux partitions and mount them on windows using samba or NFS.

  • This doesn't support inodes of over 128it, which means a common 256bit inode FS will be unreadable. – LiraNuna Jun 30 '09 at 8:37
  • 1
    That is sad, but true. – abbot Jan 13 '10 at 12:46

If you want to get read and write access to ext partitions from windows - have a look at paragon extfs driver for windows. It runs under all versions of Windows (8 as well) and can read any ext2/3/4 filesystem. And I don’t have stability problems so far www.paragon-software.com/home/extfs-windows/

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