5 Ways to Share Personal Data on Linux-Windows Dual Boot PCs

Many of you might be running both Linux and Windows on the same computer, using either one of the operating systems or the other depending on what you need.

For whatever reason, you could be planning to switch to Linux completely, even removing Windows from your system altogether.

One of the things that might make you think twice about this course of action is the fact you’re not sure how to access data between the two operating systems. With this in mind, we’ve put together a short guide instructing you on how to get around the issue.

Connect a USB storage device or an SD card

A relatively easy and straightforward solution would be to simply put all your data on a removable storage device, like a SUB flash drive or an SD card.

Just copy the data from one operating system to the removable storage, reboot the PC, swap the operating system, and finally copy the data back to the hard drive.

Even though this is the easiest way you can go about this, it is isn’t exactly the best. Copying a large amount of files can be really time consuming, not to mention prone to all sorts of errors.

A standard USB 2.0 connection will simply take much too long the make the process convenient, so if you don’t have a computer with USB 3.0 and a USB flash stick that’s compatible with it, we suggest you look for other solutions.

Use an external hard drive

A slightly better solution is using an external HDD, which you can connect to your computer via USB (preferably, a USB 3.0 connection, if you have it available).

You’ll need to format the drive as FAT32, as Linux doesn’t work well with NTFS, while Windows can’t read Ext2/3/4 journaling unless you use a third party tool to do it.

Browse Windows HDD in Linux

If you’re using Linux more than Windows and you have both installed on the same hard drive, you can browse the drive and look for any files you might need, and then copy them onto the Linux partition.

To do this, make sure you have enhanced permissions. The Windows partition is mounted in Nautilus (which is the default file manager in Ubuntu as well as other distros, however if you’re using another file manager this should still work), so once you’re there simply click the drive to show its contents in the right-hand pane.

You can find your documents by expanding the C:\ drive, then going down to \Documents and Settings\[“YourUserName”]\Documents (or alternatively \Music, or \Pictures, depending on what kind of files you are looking for).

You can then open compatible documents (like images, audio and video files, and even most Microsoft Office documents) and use them in the appropriate Linux apps.

Use a network share or NAS

Another solution which offers a bit more flexibility is using a network share with a second device (though this will be useless if you’re using a dual booting laptop and you’ve gone out of range). The second device could be a Windows PC, or even a Windows server or an NAS device.

Keep in mind the hard disk on the server or NAS will have to be formatted as NTFS. The nice thing about this solution is that it gives you a great deal of mobility, since you can move around and don’t have to remember to connect and disconnect external hard drives.

Use Dropbox or other cloud services to exchange data

You’ve probably used cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive before, so you know this is a relatively easy and convenient way to move your files around.

Backing up your data to the cloud is already something you should e doing as a fail-safe in case your system becomes compromised and you lose access to your most important files. Using one of these services to exchange data between operating systems is just another use you can find for them.

When trying to decide on which one to opt for, choose one with a reputation for reliability, but also do some research to see if it compatible with both Windows and Linux. Dropbox is usually the first choice when it comes to cloud services, but Google Drive is a good option as well.

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