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My laptop is dying (motherboard issue) and I'm due to receive my new laptop tomorrow. I'm considering converting the current hard drive (SATA, 350GB) into an external hard drive using a SATA-to-USB conversion kit. The drive currently has 3 main partitions (plus a Swap partition): Windows 7, Ubuntu, Windows 7 Recovery.

My question is, if I were to do this, would Ubuntu (13.04 is what I'm planning to install alongside Windows 8) be able to access the files on this drive even though the drive has operating systems installed? Would this work for both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04LTS?

I understand how to mount the drive, etc. My question is not one of how to use/mount a hard-drive; but a question of how would Ubuntu treat a file system that is organized according to an operating system that is not the version that the drive is being mounted to.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

There will be no problem whatsoever in using the drive in Ubuntu (or any other Linux distribution, for that matter), as it can easily see and mount ext4 filesystems (as used by default in Ubuntu). To use with Windows, however, you would either have to format it to something like FAT or NTFS (therefore loosing the data in it), or use a program to manipulate ext4 partitions inside Windows (like Ext2read). In my opinion, the first method is best, as I still haven't found a decent program to manage ext4 partitions for Windows. Just be sure to backup the relevant data from the drive using a Linux distribution before formatting the drive.

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