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.

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