I have a new laptop which I am setting up as dual boot Windows/Linux.
I would like to access files from both Ubuntu and Windows 7.
Should I create a separate NTFS partition?
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Yes, you should create a separate NTFS partition to share files between Ubuntu and Windows on your computer.
Ubuntu can safely read and write files on the Windows partition itself.
So you do not really need a separate NTFS partition to share files.
I would still recommend a separate partition for important data that is for sharing between different OSes on the same computer.
exFAT is patent-encumbered, so support for it is not built in to Ubuntu by default. You can add it without too much trouble, but this is still more trouble than not having to add it at all.
FAT32 doesn't support files larger than 4 GiB. These days, you may well have files that large, depending on what you're using your computer for.
Neither exFAT nor FAT32 support file ownership and permissions. This is usually quite minor when comparing them to NTFS, since while NTFS does support ownership and permissions, it's somewhat complicated to get them properly respected/used when mounting an NTFS volume in a non-Windows operating system like Ubuntu. You can do it, though.
Unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise, your partition for sharing files between Ubuntu and Windows should probably be NTFS. Furthermore, it could even just be the Windows partition, as that is of type NTFS. You cannot install Ubuntu to an NTFS partition, though (except with Wubi, which installs it to a rewriteable disk image that resides inside an NTFS partition).
Since Ubuntu is not as good at repairing damaged NTFS partitions as Windows (though there are Ubuntu utilities for this), you should probably avoid NTFS for machines where Ubuntu is the only operating system. (But for such a machine, you could use use Ubuntu's default partition type, ext4.)
If you mean a boot partition, neither; Linux cannot boot off NTFS or exFAT. Additionally exFAT is not recommended for most uses because Ubuntu/Linux cannot currently write to exFAT.
You don't need a special partition to "share" files; Linux can read and write NTFS (Windows) just fine. On the other hand, consider the following alternatives if you want to create a "shared" partition:
Yes, it is very convenient to have a NTFS partition to share between Ubuntu and Windows. In fact, my /home partition is NTFS.
But a word of caution, if you use hibernation feature. Because hibernation does NOT unmount the partition, you really need to make sure to wake up to the right OS after hibernation. Otherwise, you may face the danger of corrupted partition and losing data.
In a default installation, on waking up from hibernation, GRUB always highlight the first option (ubuntu on my GRUB), but that might not be the OS you hibernate from. You can search about the options in GRUB configuration file so it always highlights the last booted OS option. This way, you can avoid the trouble of waking up to the wrong OS.
NTFS partitions are readable and writable out-of-the-box with Ubuntu.
So you could indeed create a separate NTFS partition to store the files you would like to access from both operating systems.
You could also simply mount your Windows partition when you need it. It will automatically show up in the file explorer's sidebar in Ubuntu. This would prevent you from creating an additional partition.
The choice is yours; either configuration is both plausible and safe.
WARNING: I have lost data with a shared NTFS partition between my Ubuntu 11.10 and WinXP.
Say if I hibernate winXP. Then boot into Ubuntu and copy some files over to the shared partition. Then shutdown ubuntu and reboot (from hibernation) WinXP. Then sometimes it loses the directory or files where I had copied from ubuntu (they are just not there). Also, I am unable to delete the parent folder. Doing a complete checkdisk will help to fix the errors (though those files seem lost forever).
Over several experiments and several files lost, I have learned the following: If you are going to use the shared partition, make sure you are not using hibernate either in windows or in ubuntu when copying over data from one OS session to another.
There does not yet seem to be a simple safe solution to data sharing between the two OS's. :-(
I know this is an old thread but it's going to be hit a lot with the new Dropbox partitioning rules.
I was recently hit with the same issue using DropBox between Linux and Windows. Dropbox REQUIRES you to use NTFS for your dropbox files on Windows, and ext4 on Linux. This means that if you are sharing the Dropbox files between the two operating systems, ONE of them will NOT be able to sync. You have a few options, none of them ideal.
Share an NTFS partition (NOT YOUR WINDOWS PARTITION) between your two operating systems. This will allow only the Windows Dropbox installation to sync, which means you may as well not even have DropBox installed on the Linux side. Just use Dropbox files normally in the Linux side, but realize that you will not get the automatic syncing that keeps the files backed up while you are in Linux. You'll have to periodically reboot into Windows to allow the files to sync. Unfortunately there's not a good way to do this the other direction (DropBox on Linux ext4, shared with Windows) because there's not a reliable read/write solution for accessing ext4 partitions from Windows. There are read-only solutions which will allow you to read the files from the Windows side, but not write them.
Have two different copies of your Dropbox files on the machine (One on ext4 for linux and one on NTFS for Windows). This will take up twice the space that is really necessary but I don't see any other option since DropBox rolled out this crappy rule that makes it impossible to effectively share your Dropbox files between multiple Operating systems.