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AzN_DJ

Keeping everything together - how to access your files on all your OSes.

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Hi there, I have decided to put a little bit of advice on this idea - how to keep all your files in once place, across all your OSes.

 

This generally has to be a planned choice before you set up your computer: working through this in retrospect can be quite a pain in the neck.

 

The technique here is to use a common partition for everything: Your Documents, Music, Videos, Pictures, etc.

 

Step 1 - Partition your hard drive correctly

To have a common partition for all your files, it has to be accessible to all your OSes. This means in the first three partitions of a GPT/GUID formatted hard drive (if you install Windows using UEFI, then you can put it anywhere. However, I would still recommend to keep it at the start of the drive just in case).

 

You also need to ensure that your hard drive is the right format. NTFS will make it read-only by default on Mac and Linux, and generally only be read-write from Windows (yes, there are ways around it, but this is more tricky). HFS+ requires a commercial solution for Windows called MacDrive, and for Linux, it is read-only when the drive is journaled. Ext2/3/4 is generally difficult to set up on Windows and Mac. FAT also has a limitation to maximum file size, and has issues when you create a partition over 32GB.

 

Hence, my personal recommendation is that you format a large partition as exFAT near the start of your hard drive. This can be done in Disk Utility, or if you make a FAT partition, you can then format it later in Windows to exFAT.

 

Step 2 - Configuring your OSes to use the drive

Mac and Windows will be able to detect your partition and mount it automatically. Linux? Not immediately. Also, you want to make sure saving things are as easy as possible. I am not an advocate for storing {censored} loads of stuff to the desktop, and I keep things in Documents, Videos, Music, Pictures, Downloads, etc.

 

I will walk through how to make sure that everything works the way you want.

 

ASSUMPTIONS

I am assuming first of all that:

the partition is the second one on your first hard drive (after EFI boot):

On linux, it will be sda2. On mac it will be disk0s2.

 

I am also calling the drive common : you can call it whatever you want.

 

On our exFAT partition, I suggest making it look like this:

A folder for your user

Folders in that folder of:

  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos

 

Linux

exFAT by default is not installed on linux. No problem however, we can easily fix that.

Open up a terminal and type in:

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

If it doesnt exist, and you are using ubuntu, try this:

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

This will allow you to mount exFAT partitions.

 

Second thing we need is to make sure it mounts on boot.

 

In your terminal,

sudo nano /etc/fstab

(or use your favourite editor) and put this line at the bottom:

/dev/sda2 /common exfat rw,async,umask=0 0 0

(Again, check the assumptions bit I put. Change each bit that is different for you in this line, otherwise it won't work).

 

Make your folder and mount it:

sudo mkdir /common
mount /common

and viola - your common partition is ready in linux.

 

Mapping your folders.

This is for convenience purposes - so when you save your files, they will all be in the same place.





cd
rm -rf Documents Downloads Music Pictures Videos
(NOTE: PLEASE MAKE SURE THESE FOLDERS ARE EMPTY FIRST! I am not taking responsibility for lost data)
(Please check your files first)

ln -s /common/<your user here>/Documents
ln -s /common/<your user here>/Downloads
ln -s /common/<your user here>/Music
ln -s /common/<your user here>/Pictures
ln -s /common/<your user here>/Videos

Now in your home directory, all those folders will link to the common drive on boot.

 

Windows

Thankfully Windows will recognise exFAT on boot, and assign it a letter name.

All you have to do in this instance is to go through your Windows Libraries in My Computer, and map everything to the drive.

 

If things don't work, you can use this tool here:

http://zornsoftware.codenature.info/?page_id=37&did=2

 

For Windows 8, it does things a bit differently (do the above as well).

Open up My Computer, and see the list of folders. You can right click on them, go to properties, and change the paths one by one.

 

Mac

Similar to linux, but the partition should auto mount.

cd

cd
rm -rf Documents Downloads Music Pictures Videos
(NOTE: PLEASE MAKE SURE THESE FOLDERS ARE EMPTY FIRST! I am not taking responsibility for lost data)
(Please check your files first)

ln -s /Volumes/common/<your user here>/Documents
ln -s /Volumes/common/<your user here>/Downloads
ln -s /Volumes/common/<your user here>/Music
ln -s /Volumes/common/<your user here>/Pictures
ln -s /Volumes/common/<your user here>/Videos

Other Notes

For your web browsers, I suggest manually changing the download location to your common drive.

Occasionally, I have had to scan the exFAT partition on windows manually for errors, but hopefully your experiences should be better.

 

Happy multi-booting :D 
 

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