Enable the mounting of ext2/3 file systems on a Windows machine

One of the easiest ways to get data off an ext2/3 disk from a Windows machine is to use Ext2Fsd. Here are Ext2Fsd installation and usage instructions.

The Linux system happily plays along with other file systems. With it, you can mount just about any type you like and read/write data to the system. Windows, on the other hand, needs a bit of help to tackle this task.

Let's say you need to read or write data to and from an extension 2 or 3 file system, and you cannot do so with the help of Samba. Out of the box, you're out of luck. You pull that ext2/3 formatted drive out of the machine and attach it to the Windows box, and the drive doesn't appear in Explorer -- that's because Windows has no idea how to handle the file system.

You can install Ext2Fsd on a Windows machine, and it will give you access to those ext2/3 file systems. This simple tool (which is currently in beta) supports the following:

  • ext2/ext3 volume read write access
  • ext3 journal replay when mounting
  • mountpoint automatical assignment
  • large inode size: 128, 256
  • large file size bigger than 4G
  • CIFS sharing over network
  • htree directory indexing
  • ext4 extent read-only
  • Fast fsck and group block checksum support
  • 64k block-size, support
  • Works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003/2008, 7

Installing Ext2Fsd

  1. Download the installer package.
  2. If a compressed version of the file was downloaded, uncompress it.
  3. Double-click the Ext2Fsd-XXX.exe file (XXX is the release number).
  4. Complete the first steps of the installation wizard.
  5. When you reach the Select Additional Tasks screen (Figure A), check all three boxes (unless you have a specific reason for not wanting Ext2Fsd to run at boot) and click the Next button.
  6. Finish the installation wizard (the remaining steps are standard).

Figure A

By default, no options will be enabled.

Using Ext2Fsd

When you plug in that ext2/3 drive, you probably won't see anything happen. You have to instruct the app how to handle the drive by manually assigning the drive a drive letter to the newly attached drive; this can be done one of three ways: on a per-boot basis, assign drive letters upon disk changes, or permanent drive letter assignment. Here's how you handle this task.

Step 1: Plug in the drive

This could be as simple as using a special adapter that allows you to plug the drive in to a USB port on the machine. You could also mount the drive into the chassis of the PC. It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as the machine recognizes the physical drive.

Step 2: Start the application

  1. Go to Start | All Programs | Ext2Fsd | Ext2 Volume Manager to fire up.
  2. When the main app window opens (Figure B), look for the drive you just attached (it will have an EXT2 or EXT3 file system).
  3. Right-click the newly attached drive listing in the window.
  4. Select Change Drive Letter.
  5. In the resulting window, click the Add button.
  6. Select the drive letter you want associated with the drive.
  7. Select the mount option you want to use.
  8. Click the OK button.
  9. Click the Done button.

You should be able to access the data on that drive from your Windows machine.

Figure B

The app will list out all drives connected to the machine. (Click the image to enlarge.)

If you right-click that same drive and select the Ext2 Management option, you can configure this drive on a more granular level. The available options are:

  • Mount volume in read only mode: mount the drive read only
  • Codepage: change a drive's codepage, such as iso8859-1, utf8, acsii, etc.
  • Mount drive and letter: select the drive for auto mount and select the drive name
  • Mount point for fixed disk: select this if you want to permanently select a drive name for the volume
  • Hiding filter patterns: use this to hide specific file types from being seen by the mount process

Give Ext2Fsd a try, and see if it enables you to quickly and easily gain access to the data on that extension 2 or extension 3 drive.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


These instructions were a god-send until I realised that my drive was reporting very slightly differently to your screenshots below - I've followed all of the instructions as per the guidance above, but Windows Explorer still cannot mount the drive and read the files. I have two drives that were previously installed in a Linksys NAS200 device. The device reported one of the drives as having failed, and I removed to check whether it was the device or the drives. Windows Disk Management sees both drives just fine and reports them as healthy - but cannot display them in Windows Explorer (am using Win 7 Pro). I had hoped that EXT2FSD was going to sort it - but thus far it hasn't. Am I missing something fundamental here? All I want to do is to be able to read the drives and copy off the data - I intend to format the drives thereafter and don't intend using the NAS200 again as it clearly doesn't play well in the Windows environment! I've got both drives hooked up via an external SATA to USB connector at the moment. PS - have also tried EXT2READ and EXPLORE2FS - neither of these even picked up the drives being there! At least EXT2FSD can actually see the drives even though I can't yet access them!!


Going back years there have been and still are other tools to access ext2 thru 4 and even Reiser. Explore2fs, its successor Virtual Volumes, and the old but still maintained e2fsprogs command line utils. I used to use Explore2fs way back when as an easy way to get something off my Slackware partition. With the use of NASes, syncing and whatnot I'd forgotten about these tools.


That is good for a "dual boot" partitioned system (or on an external HD), but what about reading the "virtual disks"? For example, I have a Wubi install on one unit and use Virtual Box on another (although I might switch to VM Ware as Virtual Box has a conflict with Windows 7 that after closing out all activity and shutting down Win. 7, it goes into a loop - go to bed, check later and it is still clocking"). I seem to recall that Virtual Box supports 3 or 4 Virtual Disk types - not sure what or how many VM Ware supports. Likewise with other VMs (XEN, ???).


I migrated my LInux over to EXT 4 a year ago. this tool is useless for me. Knoppix works, though. Steps 1. Insert Knoppix disk. 2. Start Computer. 3. Mount Linux Drive. 4. Mount Windows Drive. (note that this can be on a separate machine, if on a network. Or, you can use a thumb dirve.) 5. Copy the file. Remember to give it a file extension, if not using one on Linux. 7. Log out and shut down.


This tool from what you posted sounds really useful. I had been using Partition Magic for some time and until now I ever heard of Ext2Fsd. I know there is Ntfs-3g which allows you to manipulate an NTFS filesystem from a Linux system. Has anyone heard of Total Commander ( or Diskinternals (, they actually give you some other options for mounting ext2/3/4 file systems into NTFS directories including the SMB/CIFS support, which is what I think is one of the objectives you might have in mind when mounting a ext 2/3/4 drive and its contents into a NTFS folder and then going on to set up network shares. Especially for network admins who are working Samba File Servers/Windows File Servers. I had this problems mounting a NTFS file s


I was looking for something that does not too long ago.


Thanx Jack, I havent tried it yet but when I have to use a Winblows machine I will try this method.


As a primarily Windows support tech I have had to fix Linux machines or occasionally recover data from Ext# formatted drives. Normally I have had to use a LiveCD or, if available to me at the time, reboot into a Linux partition. Having the ability to access data without rebooting would have been helpful. It is not necessary to bring MS hatred with you when commenting on a tool review/tip.

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