I want to run a Plex server that will serve video files off an external hard drive. The Plex server will run on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. However, because I primarily work on Windows, I feel the external drive should be compatible with Windows. (If the Ubuntu server goes down, for instance, I would be accessing those files using Windows. In addition, there is a chance I will erase Ubuntu and put Windows on the Server. I do not need MacOS support.) The number of writes will be very small.

The question is, what file system format should I use? I understand I'm limited to exFAT and NTFS if I want basic Windows support. And, I hear Ubuntu can write to either of these file systems. But what I don't know is, what the community would recommend I use for this use case: very few writes, home use, serving video files.

With the ntfs-3g package, does Ubuntu journal its writes?

I understand that NTFS filesystem errors can't be fixed using Ubuntu, and must be fixed using Windows. I suppose if there is a problem with the filesystem itself, I can fairly easily plug the drive into a Windows machine for repair. But exFAT doesn't even support journaling... right? Can Ubuntu fix exFAT filesystem errors?

I'm aware that NTFS has better permissions support than exFAT, but I don't care about permissions for this use case.

What are some of the more subtle differences between these two formats (exFAT and NTFS) that I should be aware of? Which one has more stable support on Ubuntu? What does the community recommend?

(Should I consider UDF? I know much less about it than the others. Does it support journaling? Etc.)

I suppose my main question is: which of these two main Windows-centric options (NTFS, exFAT) is expected to exhibit better data safety (avoiding data loss), when run under Ubuntu?

  • 2
    Ubuntu can easily handle both filesystems. I recommend NTFS for your uses.
    – user535733
    Feb 24, 2021 at 17:04

1 Answer 1


Windows does not read Linux partitions. It is best, however, if you used NTFS for storing bigger files (bigger than 4GB) and because you can make bigger partitions. Windows also does a better job reading NTFS (for some reason) than FAT or exFAT filesystems.

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