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How to Avoid Partitions Loss During Ubuntu Install

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Ubuntu is widely used Linux based operating system. If you are about to install Ubuntu for the first time on your PC, be careful about formatting partitions and file systems. In Microsoft Windows, we mostly use NTFS file system. Microsoft Windows Installation is fairly straight forward. You can easily format C drive with NTFS and install Microsoft Windows on it. In case of Linux, story is a bit different. Many users complain that they lost all previous partitions of hard disk and Ubuntu replaced those with a single partition during install. Better be careful than sorry. Here is what you need to know.

Many users try to switch from Microsoft Windows to Ubuntu because its relatively easy to use as compared to the other Linux distributions. The problem is installation which seems to be easy but tricky, specially for the new user. A good practice would be to avoid installing it yourself and get help from your friend who is already using Linux.

You can download Ubuntu ISO file from official Ubuntu website and then create Ubuntu installer on USB or CD. Change the device boot preference from PC (motherboard) setup. After you run Ubuntu setup, it will ask you where to install Ubuntu in the ‘Installation Type‘ section.

If you have a blank hard disk, then you can choose ‘Erase Disk and Install Ubuntu‘. This will use entire disk and on default settings Ubuntu will be installed on a single partition that, if needed, you can divide into more partitions later on.

If you already have partitions on your hard disk along with data, then you should be very careful. If you already had Microsoft Windows installed on PC and you also had other partitions, Ubuntu installer will ask about few more things.

  • Install Ubuntu alongside Windows
  • Replace Windows with Ubuntu

Installing Ubuntu alongside Windows will create dual boot in system that will enable you to select operating system before start up. You will choose Microsoft Windows or Ubuntu to boot from. If you choose replace Windows with Ubuntu, that means a fresh Ubuntu install on full hard disk. All previous partitions will be lost and replaced with a single partition for Ubuntu. Installer does warns about the deletion of files, music, photos, programs but it does not warns about the partitions lost. Many users think that it will only erase C drive and install Ubuntu on it but this is not the case.

If you have data and multiple partitions, you should choose ‘something else‘ option from ‘installation type‘. On the next screen, installer will ask about swap partition that will be like virtual memory needed by system. It will also ask about root partition and device for boot loader installation. Device for boot loader installation should be a place where system BIOS looks for something to boot. If you choose a partition for ‘device for bootloader installation’, Ubuntu may not boot at all. If you choose /dev/sda then it will be installed correctly but it may break Windows bootloader. You will have to fix the bootloader record for Windows later on. That way grub will take over from the windows bootloader and give you the option of which OS to boot from.

Creating partition for Ubuntu is another story that we will cover in how to install Ubuntu tutorial.

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