Would there be any problems in copying files on my Linux system with ext4 filesystem to an external drive that is formatted in NTFS? I'm reinstalling my OS and intend to copy these files back to my Linux system once the new Linux OS is up and running.


No, with ntfs-3g you've got read- and write-support for NTFS formated partitions. Just additionally avoid the following characters: \ : * ? " < > |

You will maybe loose the permissions... If this is important for you (which I doubt), you have to create a tar-file first and then transfer it to the NTFS-drive.

If you are free to choose the file system of the external drive (for a further usage) I would recommend to use ext3/4 because it's more error-resistant (full journaling, fragmentation, file-system checks,...) than the NTFS-filesystem.

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    Why do you doubt that the file and directory permissions are not important to the OP? I would definitely use at tar archive for proper backups. One downside of tar would be the loss of POSIX ACLs, but those are not very common, so there I would say they are probably not important. @Tosh: You can check if you are using ACLs somewhere by looking at the output of ls -l. If you see a + at the end of the first column (e.g. -rwxr-x---+ you are using ACLs. – ph0t0nix May 4 '15 at 8:32
  • Thank you both your input. Just to make sure, NTFS, ext2/3/4, are all case sensitive file systems right? That is, I can have files named "CASE.TXT", "case.txt", and "case.TXT" all in one directory and it would pose no problems, right? – Tosh May 4 '15 at 23:33
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    yes, you are right. – DJCrashdummy May 5 '15 at 5:26
  • 1. Permissions all by themselves are a shark that will sooner or later swim up and bite you in the ass, though not fatally. 2. This whole mess makes having NAS drives available in a heterogeneous environment a real problem because I've seen similar sharks bites with ext4 drives holding NTFS files. Even in 2019. This problem will never go away. – tgm1024--Monica was mistreated Dec 16 '19 at 15:28
  • I strongly suggest making a (free) VMware Workstation VM of some windows xp/7/8/10/whatever installation using (it's own) NTFS. It "thinks" it's a complete system on its own. Then play around with transferring files back and forth to it from your linux ext system and see if the permission clobbering is ok for you. It might not be. – tgm1024--Monica was mistreated Dec 16 '19 at 15:32

Permissions are what's likely to cause you the biggest headache. I've had some problems with links as well, but I tend to avoid such things on external drives.

As some of the comments point out, NTFS can be somewhat tricky as a storage filesystem when the permissions were originally from Unix.

This is a great article as to why there are such pitfalls that at first don't seem readily apparent: https://www.tuxera.com/community/ntfs-3g-advanced/ownership-and-permissions/

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