Linux and Windows systems have major differences, with different file systems and protocols in use. Sharing files between them can be difficult, especially because they use two different sharing protocols. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to mount a Windows share folder on Linux, however. Follow along below to find out how.
Share Your Windows Folder
Before you do anything, you need to ensure that Windows has been correctly set up to allow for networking file sharing.
To enable this on Windows, right-click on the network icon in the notifications area of your Windows taskbar. From here, click “Open Network & Internet Settings.”
Under the “Status” category, click “Sharing options.”
In your Windows sharing options menu, make sure that “Turn on network discovery” and “Turn on file and printer sharing” are enabled.
Click the radio buttons next to both options to make sure this is the case.
Click “Save changes” to save your settings. Once this is done, open Windows File Explorer and locate the folder you’re looking to share with your Linux PC.
Right-click the folder and click “Properties.”
In your folder properties, click the “Sharing” tab, then click “Advanced Sharing.” Click to enable the “Share this folder” checkbox, then click “Permissions.”
Under the “Permissions” section, set the control rights for your folder. By default, Windows will grant read-only access to your files.
If you want to allow everyone to read or write to the folder, click “Allow” for the “Full Control” permissions set. Set these permissions to suit your own requirements.
Once you’re done, click “OK” three times to close each of the dialog boxes.
Your folder should now be shared on your network, ready for you to access from your Linux PC.
Depending on your Linux distribution, you may be able to mount your Windows-shared folder automatically in your distribution’s file explorer.
However, this may not work correctly. The safest way to mount Windows-shared folders on Linux is to use the CIFS-utils package and mount the folder using the Linux terminal.
This allows Linux machines to access SMB file shares used by Windows PCs.
To install CIFS-utils, open a new terminal window. For Ubuntu and Debian-based distributions, type:
sudo apt install cifs-utils
For Arch users, type:
pacman -S cifs-utils
Once installed, you can then mount your Windows share folder from the Linux terminal.
Mount Windows SMB Share on Linux
You’ll need to create a mount directory before you can mount your Windows SMB-shared folder on Linux. This is where Linux will mirror the contents of your shared folder.
To do that, open a terminal window and type:
sudo mkdir /mnt/share
Once created, type the following:
sudo mount.cifs //Windows/SharedFolder /mnt/share -o user=account
Replace “Windows” with the IP address or hostname for your Windows PC and “SharedFolder” with your shared folder name. For the username, replace “account” with your Windows username or full Microsoft account email.
You’ll be asked to provide your Windows password before the mounting process is complete. Type this in, then click Enter. If you used the correct information, your Windows folder should now be mounted and accessible in the folder you created.
Sharing Files Between Linux and Windows in Dual Boot
Sharing files between Windows and Linux works great when you mount a shared folder between the two devices, but can you still share files with a dual boot setup? Linux and Windows have separate file systems. Linux usually uses Ext4, while Windows uses NTFS and also works with FAT32. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to see and share files, though.
You’ll need a compatible Windows system, build 20211 or higher, and a few other resources to make it work. Don’t worry. Everything is free. This guide walks you through each step in the process, including a way to read and share files between Windows and Linux.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do I get a syntax error when trying to mount a folder in Linux?
Either there’s a small error in the command in the terminal window, or you have a space in the folder name. Spaces don’t always come across correctly in the syntax. Instead of recognizing the command as the full name of the folder, the system sees two unrelated items.
Avoid this by placing the name in quotes. For instance, Shared Folder would become “Shared Folder.” Of course, you can also just rename the Windows 10 folder to place the words together or have a dash between them.
2. Can I mount a shared folder if I use VirtualBox?
Yes. The process should work the same way. You can also share devices, such as USB drives.
3. Can I mount guest, network, or password protected folders?
Yes, but since you’re not using the main Windows 10 account, you will need to adjust the syntax a bit. Plus, if you’re mounting a network folder, you’ll also need the server or machine name.
While this guide applies to Ubuntu, it should work for most major Linux distros as well. It lists the syntax for different scenarios, assuming you’ve already completed all of the steps (except the final mounting) above.
4. Why do I only have read access for the shared folder?
If you want to store files in the shared folder from Linux, make sure you have full read/write access to the folder in Windows. If the Windows user account only has read permission, this is the only permission you’ll have from Linux as well. You must change your account permissions from within Windows 10. For companies, you’ll need your IT admin to make the change for you.
5. Why aren’t folder changes showing up?
If you’ve made changes to the permissions of the folder, they may not show up immediately in Linux. You’ll need to remount the folder for changes to take effect.
sudo mount -a
Use the command above to remount any shared folders. This should ensure things work as expected. If you have any random glitches, remounting typically fixes them.
Mounting Windows and Linux shared folders gives you the freedom to access your most important files, no matter the operating system. The SMB protocol is well supported on Linux, so you shouldn’t find it difficult to continue accessing your Windows files and folders once you’ve installed the CIFS-utils package.
If you’d rather use a single system, here are five of the best Linux distros for Windows users you could use.
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