Dual-booting (a special case of multi-booting, running more than one operating system on the same computer) makes it possible to run Windows and Linux or other UNIX-like operating systems on the same computer. When set up and functioning correctly, it gives you the option to choose what OS to boot into.
Because of the nature of Linux, when you boot into the Linux half of a dual-boot system, you can access your data (files and folders) on the Windows side, without rebooting into Windows. And you can even edit those Windows files and save them back to the Windows half.
It is a very simple process, and requires very little work on your part. This brief tutorial shows you how it is done when dual-booting a distribution that uses the GNOME or KDE desktop environment.
The package that makes it possible to write to an NTFS (Windows) partition is called ntfs-3g. On most distributions, it is installed out of the box. If it is missing in the distribution that you are using, just use the distribution’s package manager to search for and install it.
If you are reading this from a distribution using KDE, the K Desktop Environment, open Dolphin, the file manager. The screen shot below shows what it should look like. The Places panel, the panel on the left side of Dolphin, is where your attention should be at this point. Aside from the folders on the Linux side, all the partitions and hard drives known to the system should be listed in the Places panel. For the partitions, their sizes are shown. If you know the size of the Windows partition, simply click on it to open it in place.
You will know that you clicked on a Windows partition if you see the folders with names just like the one shown in this image. To access the data in your home folder, any one of the two folders circled should be the focus of your attention. Click on either one.
You should see a bunch folders and some files, with some of the folders bearing the login or usernames of the user accounts. Find the one that matches your login name and click on it.
That should open the window to all files and folders that you own. You probably want to first look in “My Documents” folder.
If you are reading this from a distribution that uses the GNOME 2 or 3 desktop environment, the process of accessing the files and folders on the Windows side is no different from the KDE example. Just start Nautilus, the file manager. The rest of this portion requires no further explanation as they are the same as the KDE example.