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Access to ext3/ext4 in Windows 7 x64

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#1
Recently I ran into a bit of a pickle regarding an old HD with an Ubuntu 9.10 (ext3) partition on it. I desperately needed to get about 100GB of data off the partition so I could format it. Unfortunately the computer that the installation was performed on had long ago been sold. I derived three options:

1) The most obvious solution was to unplug the HD and plug it into another linux box then transfer the files over the network. I didn't want to do this because the only dedicated linux box I have is my laptop and it doesn't have an extra SATA port accessible. I could use a USB adapter but transferring 100GB through USB is brutally slow...

2) I could easily use one of my many bootable linux discs to get access to the partition and send it over the network. I didn't do this because I wanted to go with option 3.

3) What I would like most is a driver or utility that would give me access to ext3 in Windows 7 x64. I assumed this option would be the best bet because it would certainly be useful in the future. I also observed that there was a great deal of file system support in OS X and linux. Therefore my assumption, that adding ext3/ext4 support to Win7 would be trivial, was fatally flawed. :mad:

After googling the subject for a while and fooling around in VMs I found that there were a lot of different software solutions and none of them were remotely close to ideal. A brief outline of my discoveries is below:
[TABLE] Name | Cost | Type | Details
DiskInternals Linux Reader | FREE | Standalone | Attempted to test but the application would hang at startup while scanning HDDs. Other people have reported that this utility works in Windows 7 x64. This utility provides read only access. I'm not sure if it ignores permissions.
Explore2fs | FREE (GPL) | Standalone | Works great for me in Windows 7 x64. Provides decent transfer speed and apparently supports both read and write ability. Ignores permissions so you can get access to every file on the partition. Does not appear to support ext4.
Ext2Read | FREE (GPL) | Standalone | I didn't get to testing this one. Apparently does not support x64 and it doesn't list Win7 as compatible...
Paragon ExtBrowser | FREE | Standalone | Tested and worked decently on Windows 7 x64 but it had lots of issues. Firstly it seems to have trouble navigating back to a parent directory and you have to start over from root. Secondly, and most importantly, it doesn't ignore permissions so you can't get any files out of your home directory... This utility provides read only access.
Ext2Fsd | FREE (GPL) | Driver based | I didn't get to testing this one. I've read that some people did get it working in Windows 7 though apparently the drivers are not signed for Windows 7 (so it must have been done in the testing mode thingy dealie). Apparently it does not support ext4. As far as I can tell it does not preserve permissions.
Ext Installable File System | FREE | Drive based | This driver does NOT support Win7 x64, ext4 or ext3 partitions with inode size greater than 128 (which is most). Since it works with Vista x64 I gave it a whirl anyway and installed it in a VM with Win7 x64. If you want to try it for yourself (advanced users only) rename the exe file with the rar extension then unzip it and install the Nt6_inst.inf and restart your computer/VM. You can then use the ifsdrives_x64.exe utility to assign drive letters to your ext3 drives with inode size of 128. As far as I can tell it does not preserve permissions.
Ext3 via CoLinux | FREE | Emulation based | I haven't tried this yet but I probably will eventually give it a shot in a VM. Unfortunately this strategy is a bit like bringing a howitzer to a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots fight.
[/TABLE]

As you can see it's not nearly as easy as adding NTFS support to OS X or Linux... I'm not above paying for a proper kernel mode driver that has ext3/ext4 support but I honestly couldn't find one for sale! :cry:

If anyone has any suggestions, comments, criticism or clever insults please let 'em fly. Thanks!
 
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#2
why using a live cd is a problem for you is beyond my ken but anyway ....

You can run a virtual machine with linux on it.
 
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#3
why using a live cd is a problem for you is beyond my ken but anyway ....
As I said, I just didn't want to. My linux and Mac machines all work with NTFS. Additionally my Win7 x64 can access HFS+ drives. I naturally assumed that accessing ext3/ext4 in Win7 x64 would be simple...

You can run a virtual machine with linux on it.
I can't figure out how to mount one of the host's physical partitions in a linux virtual machine using VMware Player (but maybe with Workstation?). I'm gonna google to see if I can do it in VirtualBox instead.

UPDATE: I found out how to access a partition in VirtualBox (as VMware Player seems a little too risky). In VirtualBox version 3.2.8 the manual's section 9.7.1.2 has detailed instructions on how to accomplish this. It's suboptimal solution though because I'd like the access to be more native.
 
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#4
Looks like you got your data. I would probably have run something in a VM with real disk access but nevermind. Is this thread just for reference or do you need help with this?

PS if you have data on ext3 why worry about ext4?
 
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#5
Looks like you got your data. I would probably have run something in a VM with real disk access but nevermind. Is this thread just for reference or do you need help with this?
The intended purpose of this thread is both for reference (in case anyone else wishes to add ext3/ext4 support to Windows) and a discussion on ext3/ext4 support in Win7 x64.

I can't figure out how to mount an ext3 partition in a linux VM using a Win7 x64 host with VMware player. Do you have any info on how I can do it? I found this tutorial and if I had access to a vmx file that was configured to use a physical HDD partition I'm sure I could adapt it for my needs.

UPDATE: I found this example that I could adapt but it's a little risky and my data is too valuable to attempt with this method. It seems VMware Player is not a good means of accessing a physical partition...

Also I did manage to get my data off the partition but I'm still interested in finding a better solution.

PS if you have data on ext3 why worry about ext4?
I'm fairly certain I'll run into an ext4 file system eventually. Basically I just want to future proof.
 
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#6
Ok just confirms what I was thinking :) Good thread for reference for sure.

I have no idea how to mount a physical HD with vmware player to access the partitions but it looks like it should be possible. Interested to see if anyone does this.I would think just add the drive with VMware settings but I haven't tried this myself.
 

rjsdavis

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#7
Problems Accessing EXT3 format in Windows 7

I had hoped that this was exactly the sort of reference guide that was going to save my life - but sadly not yet!

I've run into some problems using a Cisco / Linksys NAS200 external hard drive device, that had 2x 750GB hard drives installed as a media playing hub. The device stopped showing one of the drives and it was feared that that drive had failed.

To discount drive failure as the cause, I've bought an external SATA kit to plug in the drives via USB, and after hours of wondering why I couldn't see the drives in Explorer (as they both seem to spin up and access just fine), I've now discovered that the Cisco device uses the EXT3 file format. Both drives show up and are recognised in the Disk Management console of Win 7 Computer Admin, but neither can be mounted or accessed. Cisco have been hopeless in assisting me get onto the drives to check data integrity.

I don't use and x64 version of Win 7, and thus far tried EXT2FSD, which installed and loaded, appeared to mount the drives and assign them with a drive letter, but when you try and access the drive in Windows Explorer, it reports it as "unformatted". The help file with the software is shite and simply says that you should ensure that the software service is started (which it is), and this makes no difference - therefore, I cannot get this to work.

I've also now tried Exxplore2FS as from this table, it seemed like the best overall software. It installed fine, but doesn't seem to do anything?! When it loads, it appears to load ok, but the windows are all blank and there doesn't seem to be a way to actually point the software to the volume that is thus far not showing in Win Explorer - seems to be far better laid out in terms of GUI, but with piss all functionality in terms of accessing an internal hard drive that is connected via a USB kit!

Therefore, was wondering / hoping that someone else had had some luck in accessing an external EXT3 formatted drive at all? All I want to do is read it, and copy off the data - I won't be using the format again as it clearly doesn't mix well with Windows, and want to be able to copy the data to another external NTFS drive for recovery and ongoing access - will be formatting the two EXT3 drives after recovery and selling the Cisco device!

Any suggestions for a piece of software that will do this, will be massively appreciated!
 

mikolajek

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#9
Any news on that? I'm urgently looking a reliable tool to mount EXT4 drives and images.

From visiting wepages I see that Paragon's tool claims to cope with them - can you please confirm that to me?