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Dual boot system format

  1. Dec 4, 2018 #1
    I have a dual boot laptop: Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I would like to format my laptop, and install a fresh copy of Windows 7, and install the new version Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS. My question is: do I need to do any thing special? Usually, when I start my laptop I press one of the F keys (I forgot which one), and then format the hard desk by following a wizard. But this the first time I will do it with a dual boot system, and I wonder if it's the same process, and the format will delete both operating systems. Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2018 #2


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    Overall, the operation you are suggesting is hazardous.

    Generally, "format" operates on only one partition. Whereas "fdisk" operates on the whole volume.
    So, to your specific question, so long as you can specify the partition, "format" itself should be OK as long as you specify the right partition.
    So, if you are executing out of a CMD prompt, and you enter "format C:" it will format the intended partition.

    ...... BUT

    Getting the Windows operating system back onto that drive may not be possible. The normal install procedure involves several reboots, and in each case, it may boot into Ubuntu. So you may have to reinstall everything.

    Certainly, your first steps will be to back up all your data in the most convenient form possible and make sure you have a Windows recovery disk.
    Then you can start your experiment.

    Your back-up position will be to install everything from scratch - following instructions posted on web sites such as this one:
  4. Dec 4, 2018 #3
    I understood that the format process will only erase everything on the Windows partition only, but not Ubuntu. Is that what are you saying?

    I want to install everything fresh. I want to erase both Windows and Ubuntu, and reinstall fresh copies for both. That's what I want to do. Is this dangerous? Maybe I wasn't clear in my question, I am not sure.

    Are you saying I need to delete Ubuntu first, before I start formatting everything in the hard desk?
  5. Dec 4, 2018 #4


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    I am saying that you can attempt to reload Windows without touching Ubuntu, but be prepared for a wreck. It may or may not work.
    So be very very prepared.
  6. Dec 4, 2018 #5
    But I don't want to keep Ubuntu. What do you mean by "be prepared for a wreck"? Is it possible that I won't be able to use my laptop again if things got messed up? I just want one partition for Windows now, and later I am thinking to add another partition for Ubuntu. But I am not trying to keep the current Ubuntu and reinstall Windows only.
  7. Dec 4, 2018 #6


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    During initial install of Windows you can do a custom install. That will allow you to modify the partitions and format them. You should leave the partitions as they are except for formatting the Windows one. Once you finish the install you will have new fresh Windows on one partition and old Ubuntu on another.

    The Linux system may or may not be accessible due to the boot menu from Windows. You can disable it if you want. The procedure for that varies depending on the Windows version.

    On reinstalling Ubuntu you can replace the boot menu and dual boot. That should be an automatic selection in the installer.

    The reason you want to leave the existing Linux partition is that resizing partitions after using them can be a pain. Just leave that area as dead space until you want to use it.

  8. Dec 4, 2018 #7
    So, I have to leave Ubuntu at first, and just format the Windows' partition? Isn't there a way to format both Windows' and Ubuntu's partitions at once, and have an empty hard desk?
  9. Dec 4, 2018 #8


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    You can format the Ubuntu partition using the windows installer but it will not be the right format. If you want to use that space for something else until the new Linux install then that is the way to go.

    I highly recommend leaving the two partitions as that will make it much easier to go back to dual boot.

  10. Dec 5, 2018 #9
    Cannot I just delete the Ubuntu partition using desk management from inside Windows, and return all the hard desk space to Windows, and then do the format?
  11. Dec 5, 2018 #10
    I'm not sure if the Windows 7 disk manager can handle Linux partitions. Otherwise, you could use the gparted live cd, which is a Linux live cd.
    You can download the iso file from https://gparted.org/liveusb.php and put it on a usb pen drive. You can then boot from the pen drive, and use the graphical partition to remove the Ubuntu partition and expand the Windows one. You can also format the Windows partition.
    I used the live cd many times without any problems.
  12. Dec 6, 2018 #11
    It's illustrated in this video.
  13. Dec 6, 2018 #12
    Well, in that case, I don't think it should be any problem. But, you should of course do a backup first.
  14. Dec 6, 2018 #13
    Of course, because I will be formatting the Windows after.
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