I've been planning to change my OS to Ubuntu,
but my hard disk contains 750GB of files (in two NTFS partitions: 250GB and 700GB).

I know that it is possible to keep the larger partition and install Ubuntu to the remaining space, but I would like to know if it is efficient to read an NTFS partition from within Ubuntu, and whether there are better ways.


it is efficient to read an NTFS partition from within Ubuntu

  • Yes, it more than efficient enough to read your data. It will work relatively well. However, note that NTFS doesn't support all the advanced permissions and journaling that Linux filesystems do, and that Linux requires to work nicely. This means that if you use the partition for anything other than simple data, you may run into issues. Note also that the NTFS implementation is rather new, and not as rock solid as the one for FAT or even HFS.

whether there are better ways

  • You could back up the data to another drive and start from a clean slate. The Ubuntu installer will give you one big partition for all your stuff, and this is the way things work most nicely in Linux.

But as I said, mounting and using the big partition will work perfectly. If you choose not to create a real Linux file system.

You can't convert them easily and safely. If you want to change a file system, you should back up the data anyway. And if you do, creating a new partition and restoring the data to it makes a lot more sense. I'm relatively sure there isn't a stable implementation of NTFS to ext4 conversion. File systems are awesomely complicated. :-)

If you have only the one hard drive, and no possibility of backing it all up, I'd recommend to touch it as little as possible. Don't shrink partitions, let alone try to convert file system. Install Ubuntu on the 250GB partition,

you'll be very happy.


Ubuntu will automatically recognize and allow you to access the remaining Windows' partition. I use a dual-boot setup with Ubuntu as my primary operating system, and occasionally booting into Windows. My NTFS data partition (and hence the files it contains) is accessible by applications in both operating systems.


Don't bother changing yet. (only do it when you are "comfortable" with the idea, and really know how to do it.

I've been using Ubuntu for 3 months now, and the NTFS system works fine, but it does have those "permissoins" issues and its not as robust when there's a powe-out... so I'm converting to Ext4 (I'm actaully in the middle of doing it today :) ... by the way, it is a DATA only drive.. Ubuntu / (root) and /home are on a seperate 300 GB drive.

The only issue (which isn't an issue if you know how) is needing to understand the mount entries for /etc/fstab and the mountpoints... (maybe there is a GUI tool for that, but I prefer to "get under the hood") ..so hold off doing it until you are confident about mouting devices permanently..

I've got it working now, and its a great learning experience (about mounts)... but! be sure you can do it before you try it out...

I also partiion the drive (1 TB) to allow 100 GB as an NTFS partition for "Windows only" stuff (a reminder of the bad-old days :). I've got 2 backup 1TB drives, and I would recommend that you HAVE A FULL AND COMPLETE BACKUP before you start!

So take your time.. don't rush into it.. and one day, down the track, you'll "just do it!" :)

  • Oh, I don't have any backup drives. I'm kinda broke :D – Oleh Prypin Dec 17 '10 at 10:36

Reading and writing to a NTFS partition can be a problem, or so i believe, but to my limited knowledge it is best if you can somehow migrate data to ext* or something similar.


From my personal experience. I had a dedicated Windows directory (about 50 Gb) contaning my files (documents, photos) located in d:\MyDocs. In order to preserve a directories' structure and not to be confused with new location in Ubuntu, I just copied from Ubuntu (by mean of Midnight Commander) whole directory to the same directory in my Ubuntu Home catalog. (Of course I used a traditional way for accessing NTFS volumes from Ubuntu :).

Best wishes, Vincenzo

  • 1
    It can be a problem that I have 700 GB of files, not 50... – Oleh Prypin Dec 16 '10 at 23:06
  • I think, in your case it's necessary to have an extra external HDD (1Gb, for example). I am using a backup to 1Gb external HDD. – Vincenzo Dec 17 '10 at 19:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.