Whether they’re gamers or need to manage programs in different environments for work, many people dual boot Windows with either Ubuntu or another Linux distribution. If you’re using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, then you more than likely receive an error message if you try to look at files on your Windows partition while you’re working from Linux. Don’t worry, because nothing is actually wrong with your disk. You won’t have to use anything like chkdsk from windows or even the ntfsfix command line app in Linux.
Your error message might read “The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting)” or something to that effect. This means that Windows isn’t actually shutting down when you shut down Windows. Reboot your machine safely and start up Windows so you can clear things up. You’ll be looking at the contents of your C:\ drive in no time flat.
Method 1: Properly Shutting Down Windows
Modern versions of Windows, like Windows 10, start up very quickly because they hibernate by default instead of shutdown cleanly. This means they simply write out the contents of your RAM chips to your hard drive and then switch off so they can start up again in the minimum amount of time possible. While this is useful, it doesn’t allow you to use your Windows volume under other operating systems.
Once Windows has started up, hold down the Windows key and push R to bring up the Run dialog box. You can also open the Start Menu, select All Apps and select Windows System before clicking on Run. It should pop up the same way that it did in older versions of Windows.
When you’re in the box, type shutdown -s -t 00 to turn your machine off. You can either push enter or click on OK to power down your machine, but only when you’re absolutely ready. If you have any documents open, then you’re going to want to save them because this is a full shutdown the way that the old versions of Windows did it!
This might take a few moments, especially if Windows decides to install updates. Just wait until the system goes down for a complete shutdown. The amount of time that it takes when installing updates on Windows 10 depends heavily on network load and the current health of your system. This shouldn’t happen very often when you do this, though, and generally it should just go down right away.
Once you’re off you can feel free to start up your computer again. Make sure to boot into Ubuntu or whatever Linux distribution you use. When the GRUB menu comes up on your screen you can either push enter to continue or just wait for ten seconds and you’ll proceed with booting Linux just fine. This makes it easy to start right back up even if you’re not paying attention. You should be able to now mount your Windows volume in Linux like normal. You won’t need to play around with Windows anymore even, because the moment you do this it makes sure to put your drive in a safe state that Ubuntu is fine with. As long as everything was working, there’s nothing else that needs to be done.
Method 2: Finding Your Windows Volume
In an overwhelming majority of cases, the above would have worked just fine. Sometimes, though, you might not be able to find your Windows volume. As soon as you see your preferred desktop environment come up, open a file manager. You could search for File Manager on the Ubuntu Unity Dash or open PCManFM from the Applications menu in LXDE. You can also hold down Windows key and E to open up a file manager and give you the home folder. Xfce4 users might see Thunar in this case. Linux file managers are all fairly similar, so you shouldn’t worry about which one that comes up.
Notice the list in the left hand side of the file manager, which shows the name of your Windows drive. Try clicking on it and give it a second. Since this fixed the problem of Windows 10 not shutting down correctly, you should be able to mount it just fine and this point and look at your files as if they were on any standard Linux partition. Anything that you move over to the Windows volume will now show up like normal when you’re back in Windows 10.
If you can’t find your NTFS Windows volume right along the right-hand side, then click on the address line, type / and push enter. You’ll see a folder called media. Double-click on this and then double-click on any device that might be inside of it as this is where Ubuntu and Debian automatically shove volumes you don’t boot off of. As soon as you double-click on it, you’ll be looking at your file structure like you were browsing the contents of C:\ back in Microsoft Windows File Explorer! If you gave your C:\ drive a volume label in Windows, such as Windows10 or something, Linux will even read this label and give it to the icon, which makes this process that much simpler.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to do this as a regular user, since you might find that Windows 10 might be mildly aware of some Unix file permissions and you could theoretically lock yourself out of a document! Other than that, though, you should be fine and you can even use the My Documents folder inside of your Users folder on the Windows 10 volume to transfer files between the two operating systems. If you need to delete a lot of files, then you might want to do it under Windows instead to avoid deleting anything Windows needs to start back up.
Make sure that the next time you’re in Windows 10 and want to shutdown to switch to Linux that you use this shutdown method. That will let you have a look at the contents of your drive without any unnecessary restarts.