Using USB drive in Windows and Linux properly

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What is the proper way of using a USB hard drive or stick between Linux and Windows? (I’m using Linux Mint 14 and Windows XP on different machines) Should I set it up somehow so that all the files are shared and reused safely between Linux and Windows?

The question comes from the recent problem I had. I’ve created and edited a few folders through Linux and they are not working on Windows now (folder is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupt). While I dealt with that problem, what would be the way of ensuring this doesn’t happen again?


The way you’ve used the device sould be fine. It is highly unlikely that Linux cannot handle the file system found on a “common” USB mass storage device.

But what probably went wrong (and often happens to me): the file system buffer has not been written back to disk. Read/write access on mass storage devices is memory-buffered, which means before detaching the device you should make sure the buffer has been synced by the OS–either by umount-ing the device or by executing the sync command.

If you’re looking for a way to keep windows/linux files apart you have 2 options to make things simple.

  1. Make 2 completely different directories for the files of each, simply label one linux, the other windows.

  2. Partition the drive as to have equal amounts of space on both sides, or more on whatever type of OS you are going to be using more/having more applications/needing more storage on. You could also format the linux partition in FAT32 and the windows in NTFS since although they both work with each other, FAT32 is suited more for linux where as NTFS is suited more for windows.

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