Have you recently switched from Linux to Windows? You’ll probably want to access your Linux files from your Windows system. Even though Linux supports Windows NTFS partitions, Windows cannot read Linux partitions without using the Windows Subsystem for Linux or third-party software.
Today, we’ll discuss what EXT4 is and how to mount EXT4 drives on Windows. Then, we’ll outline how to use the Windows Subsystem for Linux and look at reliable software you can use to mount an EXT4 drive on Windows.
What is EXT4?
EXT4 is a popular journaling file system for the Linux operating system. EXT4 is significantly improved over EXT2 and EXT3, with improved reliability, security, performance, and features. Large hard drives commonly use EXT4, but this file system can also be used on removable disks such as memory cards, USB flash drives, and pen drives.
NTFS is now the most popular and default file system for Windows. Windows also support exFAT and FAT32. On the other hand, the default file system for Mac is APFS, which supports a few common file systems, including FAT32, HFS+, and exFAT, and read-only support for NTFS.
Linux supports many file systems, including EXT2, EXT3, EXT4, JFS, XFS, and BTRFS, with EXT4 as the default. To migrate from Linux to Windows, you might have to format your device’s internal or external hard drives so the Windows system will recognize them.
The file system organizes data for the OS. And since different operating systems require different file systems, if the target storage device lacks a compatible file system, the OS won’t be able to read or write data on the disk. As a result, you should select the proper file system format for the storage device to allow Windows to recognize it.
Solution #1: Mounting with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
Microsoft has not automated this process, which requires double-clicking on the drive. Therefore, to use these drives, Windows 10 requires users to manually identify the storage device and mount it using commands. Here’s what you need to mount an EXT4 on Windows:
- Most recent version of Windows 10/11 Pro.
- Activated Hyper-V.
- Enabled Windows Subsystem for Linux.
Now, look at the steps for mounting EXT4 on Windows on WSL.
Step 1: Identify the EXT4 drive
- The first step will be to identify the storage drive that will be mounted.
- The storage drive can be an internal or external hard drive, an SD card, etc.
- To identify the storage device, execute the following command in the command prompt: wmic diskdrive list brief
- After inputting the command line, the “DeviceID” will appear in a list of elements.
- Begin the assembly after identifying the disk. Note that once the storage device is mounted on Windows, it will be inaccessible. So, we’ll have to disassemble it to use it on Windows 10 or 11.
Step 2: Mount the EXT4 drive
- Input the command: “wsl-mount” followed by the disk identifier to mount the unit.
- For example, if the device has one partition, which is EXT4, and it is the first one to be connected to the computer, the command line will be: wsl –mount .PHYSICALDRIVE0
- However, if the hard drive has multiple partitions but only one EXT4 partition, you’ll need to use the “partition” parameter to select the partition.
- Then, the command line would be: wsl –mount.PHYSICALDRIVE0 –partition 1
- Once the command is entered, a new Linux icon will appear in the file explorer’s right-hand pane, along with all of the unit’s directories in EXT4.
- Users will be able to assess the EXT4 units from any distro installed in WSL. These units will be found within the WSL distro’s point “/mnt.“
Step 3: Disassemble the EXT4 drive
- Once you’ve followed the steps and don’t want the EXT4 drive to stay mounted on Windows 10/11, you can unmount the drive.
- You can unmount the drive by inputting the following command line: wsl –unmount.PHYSICALDRIVE0
Solution #2: Mounting with Third-Party Software
Third-party programs for this file system are no longer necessary now that the Windows Subsystem for Linux can support mounting an EXT4 drive. However, users running Windows 10 Home will be unable to use WSL due to a lack of Hyper-V support. Here are third-party programs that can help.
This program also allows users to mount any Linux drive, including EXT 2, EXT 3, EXT 4, XFS, and BTRFS, and use them like a Windows NTFS drive.
EXT2explore is a free, open-source program that can only read EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4 partitions. This program does not require installation; download the.exe and run it. However, the program needs to run as admin, or an error will pop up.
This is accessible via the right-click menu. Next, open the file’s properties window and check the Compatibility tab for the “Run this program as an administrator” option.
If you’re looking for a free application, EXT2SFD is one of the best options. It will allow users to mount all types of Linux partitions on Windows. In addition, users can access EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4 drives and also read and write data to these drives. These drives can also be configured to be mounted automatically on Windows startup.
Hopefully, you now know how to mount the EXT4 storage drive on Windows. Follow the steps discussed so you can access your Linux storage drive on Windows.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Windows recognize EXT4 files?
Windows won’t recognize EXT4 files. The Linux operating system supports EXT4 files and extensions such as EXT2 and EXT3, but Windows does not. As a result, they are not detectable or readable on your computer. However, you can make it possible by implementing the solutions discussed in this post.
EXT4 or NTFS?
The Linux operating system’s default file format is EXT4, whereas Windows’ file system is NTFS. However, when it comes to performance, you should test them on the native OS because their performance on the respective operating systems is excellent.