The disk drives used on each type of operating system use different file systems. While Windows usually runs on the popular FAT32 or NTFS systems, on Linux the standard is the EXT4 and its predecessors, while Apple has opted in recent years for the HFS+ and its derivatives. The ability to work with units in different formats is not bi-directional, and by default Windows doesn’t allow you to explore drives used by other operating systems, although there are free tools out there that will let you do it.

Linux Reader is a freeware program for Windows that allows you to access disk drives with Ext2/Ext3/Ext4, HFS, and ReiserFS disk drives. Its browsing system is embedded into Windows’ own file explorer, and allows you to extract any file from the remote unit on any other drive where it’s visible on the host operating system. The only annoyance is that it doesn’t allow you to edit or delete remote content.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a program that exclusively reads disk drives and images from Mac, you can turn to HFSExplorer, another freeware program that supports the three most-used systems on Apple machines: HFS, FHS+, and HFSX. It also reads images in .dmg format created on Mac OS. The only requirement is that you have to have the Java SE Runtime Environment installed, and as with Linux Reader, it can only read and copy content, not write over it.

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