Copy files from external hard drive to my linux mint

I see the disc partition when I plug in my external hard drive but can’t figure out how to download or copy my files to my laptop

Hello @OmaBear55 and welcome to the forums!

It sounds like you are trying to copy files via a linux terminal. You will need to mount the usb drive to your filesystem before you can access the files.

Type the following command to see what the partition device name is for the USB stick

sudo fdisk -l

You will probably see a few lines like /dev/sda /dev/sdb /dev/sdc etc. where each disk gets a disk name and letter suffix in sequence. (first is ‘a’, second is ‘b’, third is ‘c’)

Then below the disk list is a number for each partition on that disk. Like /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2, /dev/sdb1, etc.

Chances are the last disk on this list will be your USB stick and will probably only have 1 partition on it. For this example lets say your USB device name is /dev/sdc1.

Create a mount point directory on your computer using the command

sudo mkdir /mnt/usb-drive

this directory can be anything you want but /mnt is a standard mount directory that is widely used.

Once that is created then issue the mount command

sudo mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt/usb-drive

When this is done you can then copy any and all files from the USB to your home folder. for example:

cp /mnt/usb-drive/*.txt ~/Documents (copy all .txt files to your home Documents folder)

or copy a directory named mystuff to Documents

cp -r /mnt/usb-drive/MyStuff ~/Documents (the -r means recursive and will copy all file and sub folders as well)

I hope this helps and remember too that you can also use a GUI file manager in any desktop to copy and move files in a graphical environment, like we do in windows.

Good luck and enjoy the digital freedom!



Michael, I don’t think you understood the question. Op said they were trying to copy files from external hard drive and you assumed it was a USB stick. I would also like to know how to copy files from external hard drive to a Linux OS in my case Ubuntu.

This forum is quite useful in helping us less technical peeps…


Good catch and the good news is mounting the external drive is exactly the same as the usb. In my instructions above instead of using the name ‘usb-drive’ in the mkdir and mount commands, use something like ‘external-drive’ (Just make sure you have the proper drive identifier from the fdisk command. Still should be the last one in the list)

One thing I forgot to also mention is to safely unmount the drive before you unplug it from the computer. To do this issue the umount command

sudo umount <device|directory>

or in our example

sudo umount /mnt/usb-drive

(In case you encounter the rare behavior where the drive gets hung up and umount doesnt work, there is a force option, use:

sudo umount -f <device|directory> )


Hey @OmaBear55 and welcome to the forums!
Once you connect your drive, open up your file manager and you will see your files and folders on the left panel. You can then click on it to mount it (if it’s not already mounted) and open it. From there on, you just select the files and folders you want, right click, select copy and then go to the desired folder you wish from the left panel and right click on empty space. Then, select paste and the copy will commence. :slight_smile: