How To – View Linux Files on USB Flash Drive
This article will help you view Linux files on a flash drive when connected to a Windows 10 computer. This is a more common problem than you might think. In 2020, the percentage of computer users who use Linux is just above 25% of all computer users? This implies you will eventually receive a USB flash drive which was formatted and used in Linux to save files. If you are a Windows user and currently in this situation, here is your help.
Linux may use FAT32 or exFAT to format a flash drive, but the default would be either ext2, ext3 or ext4.
In Windows, when a USB is formatted as the ext type, Windows will ask to format the drive. Do not do this if there is data on the drive you are trying to access. (Previous article on best way to format USB drives)
The solution to resolve the Windows request to format the drive, and see the Linux files on the drive is do the following:
This first tip might not be “required” but it is highly recommended.
In the Search field of Windows type Control Panel and click Enter
This will take you to the Control Panel.
Click Programs and then click Turn Windows features on and off
In the dialog box which pops up, you’ll need to scroll down most of the way when locking for Windows Susbsystems for Linux and be sure to check that checkbox. You can click OK and exit.
Next, download the software which will actually do the work of reading ext formatted devices. You are going to download Linux Reader by DiskInternals, which is a free utility for Windows users. Here is the link.
Once you have downloaded and installed the software your Windows computer is ready to view Linux files. NOTE: You might still get the Windows message to format the device, simply click Cancel on the message. Open File Explorer in Windows like you normally would to navigate to a USB drive letter… and you can view the files.
The above process takes about 5 minutes. Quick easy solution for how to view Linux files on USB flash drives.