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I have three partitions: one with Ubuntu 12.04, the other is a data partition (the largest of the three) and the last one has Windows 7.

First I installed Ubuntu, then I formatted the data partition as ext3 and chose it as my home folder. Like a month after I installed Windows 7 on the third partition, and realized that it can't read the data partition (ext3). So I just want to reformat it from ext3 to ntfs with gparted.

I thought of just copying the entire home folder (with hidden and system files) to an external hard drive I have, unmount home, reformat the partition to nfts, and just copy everything back and mount again. But I don't know if this will be the wise thing to do.

PLease help.

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This is NOT recommended at all. Your /home/ partition needs to use Linux filesystem permissions, which NTFS does not support. –  Thomas W. May 15 '13 at 14:53
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1 Answer

Converting the /home folder to NTFS is neither wise, nor recommended, and possibly not possible!

The home folder contains user configurations as well as user data. Ubuntu maintains user specific permissions for folders and files. The permissions format used by Ubuntu is specific to ext3, ext4 formats.

In other words, Ubuntu cannot preserve folder and file access permissions in an NTFS, or any of the Windows partition formats.

Once you format the /home partition to NTFS and copy everything back, you won't be able to mount it as /home as the partition will not meet the requirements of Ubuntu.

See What is recommended as optimal SSD+HDD Setup for Ubuntu? for a solution on how you can link your data folders in another (NTFS) partition to your home partition. You will need to shrink the /home partition and create a new NTFS partition and copy the data folders, like Documents, Pictures, Music etc. there.

Hope this helps

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