I had a bad experience once when I did some unexpected behavior and maybe the power went out and a Windows driver I used to access my Mac harddrive fudged something enough that even my Mac couldn't recover the filesystem. I was able to use a disk recovery program to scan the drive and save what it could on an external HD. I lost a lot of data, I don't want that to happen again.

So I'm asking this, is there any problems with Linux using NTFS? If I power it out, pull cables, do weird things and run Linux using a virtual machine (and repeat all madness there) will I have any problems? Obviously a partial transferred file will be lost and it may want a second to revert/repair midway writes. Will Linux handle NTFS as correctly as Windows does? Do I have anything i need to worry about?

I'll be using Ubuntu but I'm likely to switch over to Debian and maybe other Debian based OS.

  • The real way to achieve reliability is frequent backups. If it's worth it to you, get a UPS for the machine. Any of those would be more reliable than speculating about how well any implementation of NTFS handles power failures or unspecified weirdness.
    – jw013
    Oct 31, 2012 at 19:38
  • Is your data -- and your time spent on fruitless recovery -- really less valuable than a UPS? Nov 1, 2012 at 0:59
  • 1
    I never run into a problem with ntfs-3g so far
    – daisy
    Nov 1, 2012 at 1:00

3 Answers 3


I dual boot Bodhi linux and Windows (unfortunately, a lot of stuff for school requires windows), and I've had problems in the past. So I started accessing my windows partition mounted as read only - writing to NTFS seems to be the trouble, and reading only has never given me problems. If you really needed a partition or drive to access from both, you would probably need to go with FAT32 or exFAT.

  • Can you elaborate what "problems" you faced and which conditions lead to the problems?
    – Marco
    Oct 31, 2012 at 18:17
  • 2
    I started getting the "windows needs to scan your disk" messages on booting windows - it would happen every few boots of windows. And most the time, the scan would not actually run until I rebooted and retried several times (it wouldn't even let me bypass it and get into windows). Finally, after two days of reboots trying but unable to actually boot into windows or safe mode, I had to run windows repair disk to fix the partition. I think it was from repeated writes to the file system through dropbox pointing to a folder there, but I'm not sure. Now I have a dropbox folder on both partitions Oct 31, 2012 at 18:24

As you know NTFS is basically a Microsoft protected product, and thus access to an NTFS filesystem using any other operating system other than Windows is frought with real risk.

Second, you realize that under the hood of the Mac OS is based on UNIX/Linux.

BTW, Switching Linux distributions will not in general change the underlying drivers being used by the kernel, assumming that same kernel level.

Third, programming is not perfect, so making mischief on any particular filesystem like disconnecting the disk during activity is frought with risk. A hic-up in a particular area of the filesytem code on any operating system could be fatal to a filesystem.

So I'd say you are not mitigating any of the risk using a particular Linux distribution in accessing an NTFS filesystem.

  • 8
    1) MacOS does not use a Linux kernel. 2) "Programming is not perfect" How is this related to Linux? This argument hold true for every implementation on every OS.
    – Marco
    Oct 31, 2012 at 17:26
  • Yep, and making mischef especially with sensitive filesystem code is a very bad idea.
    – mdpc
    Oct 31, 2012 at 17:33

Anecdotal evidence: I have NTFS on my external hard drive (I occasionally have to connect it to a Windows box) and have had many dual-boot systems; never noticed any problems.

But then, I haven't tried anything like cutting power to the HDD while it's running (a bunch of times the power went out, however, and since this external HDD has its own power supply, it turned off, but never got any harm).

In any circumstance, a backup in another hard disk, using a different file system, won't hurt.

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