How to Access exFAT File System in Ubuntu

Linux (or Ubuntu, in particular) comes with support for many file systems. If you plug in your USB drive, chances are your Linux system will recognize it immediately and mount it in your file manager. However, if your external hard disk is in the exFAT format, your system won’t be able to detect it since it doesn’t support it natively. Here is how you can access, with read and write permission, to an exFAT file system in Ubuntu.

The Ubuntu repository does not come with any package that supports exFAT. To enable access to exFAT, we need to install from a third-party PPA.

In your terminal,

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:relan/exfat
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fuse fuse-exfat exfat-utils

Once you have installed the exfat-utils packages, whenever you plug in your exFAT external drive. It will be detected by the system and automount. It comes with read/write access so you can copy to and paste from the drive.

In the event that your system doesn’t automount the external drive, here is what you can do to mount it manually:

sudo mkdir /media/exfat
sudo mount -t exfat /dev/sdb1 /media/exfat

Replace the “/dev/sdb1″ with the exact file path to your external hard drive.

To unmount the exFAT external drive:

sudo umount /media/exfat

The main reason why exFAT is not supported natively in Linux is because exFAT is developed by Microsoft and it comes with a restrictive license, which doesn’t allow free or open-source operating system to implement it natively.

Even though the exfat-utils package allows you to read/write to a exFAT file system, you can’t format your external hard disk to exFAT format yet. To format to exFAT file system, the only (and easiest) way now is via Windows. If you are running a Windows virtual machine, you can do so in the VM as well.