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Ever wanted to get at your lost data on a Linux drive but were frustrated to find that Windows cannot read Linux drives.  Windows in it’s infinite wisdom cannot out of the box  read Linux partitioned drives which typically has the EXT4 filesystem. There are a number of free utilities available which allow Windows to read drives formatted with  EXT4.

The following are the most popular freeware utilities

1 Ext2Fsd

Ext2Fsd is a Windows file system driver for the Ext2, Ext3, and Ext4 file systems. It allows Windows to read Linux file systems natively, providing access to the file system via a drive letter that any program can access.

2 DiskInternals Linux Reader

Linux Reader is a freeware application from DiskInternals, developers of data recovery software. In addition to the Ext file systems, Linux Reader also supports ReiserFS and Apple’s HFS and HFS+ file systems. It’s read-only, so it can’t damage your Linux file system.

3 Ext2explore

Is an open-source application that works similarly to DiskInternals Linux Reader—but only for Ext4, Ext3, and Ext2 partitions.


The problem with all of these utilities is that typically when installing a Linux distribution the drive is partitioned using Logical Volume Manager. I have talked about LVM in a Previous post .Data Recovery

LVM allows for very flexible disk space management. It provides features like the ability to add disk space to a logical volume and its filesystem while that filesystem is mounted and active and it allows for the collection of multiple physical hard drives and partitions into a single volume group which can then be divided into logical volumes. This performs the same function as Windows Disk Manager.

When installing Linux a typical drive layout will be created with the following partitions.  As seen in the image below.





Typical Linux System LVM drive divided into 3 partitions

Data Recovery Linux LVM Drive

Linux drive viewed in Windows Disk Management

Here in the snapshot below I have removed the Linux drive from it’s case and and attached the drive to a Windows System and the snapshot displays that the drive’s partitions are not recognised by Disk Manager.  See DISK 2.

Data Recovery LVM volume via Disk Manager

Linux File System for Windows Paragon

Linux file system for windows allows access to drives configured with Logical Volume Manager  and access to partitions formatted  with Ext2 , Ext3 and Ext4.

The picture below is the initial screen displayed after installation. I am using the trial version  of the software.

data recovery linux

Linux File System for Windows Features

Automount  eXT2 , eXT3 & eXT4  volumes  are automatically mounted at startup,  for ease each time you restart the operating system or power your computer on. You can disable this.

Write Access When ExtFS volume is mounted in write mode, you can do everything with files and folders it contains: read, edit, delete, rename, create new.

Volume Administration Formats, checks integrity, and repairs corrupted ExtFS volumes with minimal effort.

Read/write support for LVM (Logical Volume Management) With Linux File Systems for Windows, your Linux’s logical volume manager won’t lose any of its functions: it will be able to perform open, close, read and write operations and, in general, operate in a usual way.

Command Line Interface Get full control over Linux File Systems for Windows by Paragon Software via a command line. 

Boot Partition

data recovery lvm volume

Home Partition

The home partition is where you will find your user data eg the desktop , documents , pictures and downloads.  See snapshot below of the Home partition of a 2TB drives with Centos 7 installed.

Data recovery Home Partition

Root Partition

The root partition is where all the Linux operating system files are maintained . See Snapshot below of a Centos 7 root partiton.

Data Recovery Root partition