How To Copy Files From A Windows PC To Linux

Most home users have a dual-boot system that can boot from Linux, such as Ubuntu, or startup with Windows. This scenario, by far, is the easiest method to transfer files from Windows to Linux. However, others (business or personal) have Linux on another computer or laptop and need to copy files to that Linux system, which is a little more complex.

Although copying files from one program to another is relatively straightforward, you still need to learn how to do it properly. Keep reading to learn how to transfer files from Windows to Linux.

Five Ways to Transfer Files from Windows to Linux

Moving your files from one operating system to another means choosing the best option based on your current situation. Here are five methods you can choose from.

  • Use a Linux File Browser like Nautilus to copy files on PCs with both operating systems.
  • Use the Linux virtual machine on a Windows PC to copy files.
  • Use an external network communication service (SSH or Secure Shell) for two networked PCs.
  • Use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for internet transfers to a remote PC.
  • Use sync software for copying to a remote or locally networked Linux PC.

Find out the details for each method in the sections below.

Copy Data from a Windows PC to Linux Using Nautilus

The easiest, most straightforward method to copy data from Windows to Linux involves using a Linux file browser like Nautilus. You can’t use Windows Explorer or any other Windows file browser because the OS cannot read Linux partitions, but Linux can read Windows partitions.

Here’s how to use Nautilus in Ubuntu to copy/paste files from Windows partitions.

  1. Launch the “Nautilus” file browser.
  2. Browse the Windows partitions for the files you want to copy to Linux (Ubuntu in this example).
  3. Select the files, right-click, and choose “Copy.”
  4. Navigate to the desired location in Ubuntu.
  5. Right-click and choose “Paste.”

As you can see above, the process is simple for PCs with both operating systems.

Note: Permissions can affect what files are copyable from Windows. Since the OS is offline, you can change permissions temporarily using Linux, but do so at your own risk. However, most personal files are found in accessible folders and locations.

Copy Data From a Windows PC to Linux With a Linux Virtual Machine

Using a virtual machine to run Linux in Windows is a clever way to copy your files. It is more complex than using Nautilus in Linux yet easier than other configurations. This allows you to run the other system in an app window and use it as a different computer.

To combine your two systems into one PC, you will need the help of additional software. One of the most common ones is Oracle VM VirtualBox. This platform allows users to work with several operating systems within one device.

How to Set Up the VirtualBox Platform on Windows

  1. Install the VirtualBox Guest Additions platform.
  2. Choose “Headless Start” after clicking on “Start” (the green arrow icon).
  3. Find the “Shared Folders” in the “Settings.”
  4. Select the “Machine Folders” option.
  5. Add a shared folder by clicking the “+” symbol in the window’s top right corner.
  6. Choose the “Folder Path” from the directory and name.
  7. Ensure that the shared folder is available when you run the VM. To achieve this, check the “Auto-mount” box before confirming your choices.
  8. Click the “OK” button.
  9. Reboot your “Virtual Machine” system, and the setup will be ready for action.

You can copy your files between the host PC (Windows) and the virtual guest system (Linux) or vice versa.

Copy Data From a Windows PC to Linux Using SSH

Secure Shell (SSH) is a specific network protocol that offers users safe access to a different device. Therefore, your first step with this method is to enable SSH on your Linux PC. Once you do this, you can copy your files through the command line from Windows to Linux.

How to Set Up an SSH Server on Linux

  1. You will need to open a terminal and update your operating system.
  2. Install the SSH server through the OpenSSH server. This server allows you to eliminate all potential threats to your data.
  3. While waiting for the SSH server to finish the installation, you can ensure that the OpenSSH server runs appropriately using the Sudo service SSH status.
  4. Install an SSH client such as PuTTY. This entirely free file transfer application is used between different networks, but it can’t function without the PuTTY Secure Copy Client (PSCP) tool.
  5. Download and save the pcp.exe file on your Windows C:\ drive.
  6. Copy your files from Windows to Linux with the following code (adjust to your needs):
    c:\pscp c: ome\path\to\a\file.txt user@remoteIP:\home\user
    ome\path ewname.txt

Note: You must input your Linux computer password before the file transfer begins.

Copy Data From a Windows PC to Linux With FTP

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is another excellent way to copy your data from Windows to Linux. Many may find this method more manageable since you do not need to type commands. Check your Linux server and ensure it is running. Also, you’ll need an app such as FileZilla to transfer with FTP.

  1. Run the “FileZilla” application in Windows.
  2. Open the “Site Manager.”
  3. Create a “New Site.”
  4. Change to the “SFTP” protocol.
  5. Input the target IP address into the “Host” section.
  6. Add your username and password for the host.
  7. Switch to “Normal” for the “Logon” type.
  8. Press “Connect.”

After following the above steps, you can use the FTP application to move your files from one server to another.

Copy Data From a Windows PC to Linux With Sync Software

Another option is using a file synching program to copy your files from Windows to Linux. Usually, these programs manage the connection between two devices or systems via an encrypted key. There are two great apps you can use for this method:

  • Resilio Sync – Although this app offers a paid version, the free option will do the job.
  • SyncThing – This app offers the same services as the previous one but is 100% free.

Whether you choose the first or the second option, the way they work is the same. After you install your desired app on Windows and choose a syncing folder, you can create the necessary key. As you set it up on Linux, your data will begin to sync between the two systems.

In closing, maintaining an open mind is essential to learning how to copy files from a Windows PC to Linux. If you’re unfamiliar with one of the two operating systems, learning how to manage file transfer between the two will take some time.

One of the best ways to transfer your files is to try all the methods above to rule out the ones that don’t work for you and find the ones you love. Eventually, you can streamline the process using the most suitable option.

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