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Let's say I received a computer with Windows XP installed, and it has 3 partitions.

I want to upgrade the PC to a Windows 7 installation, and also change the partitions structure to only 1 big partition, instead of the 3 small partitions that I have.

Can it be achieved without having to format my hard drive and lose all of my data?

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Are you going to give the world any clue as to what is on those three partitions? The answer to the question differs markedly according to what the partitions contain. A system partition, a boot+home partition, and an OEM recovery partition is a different ball game to a system+boot+home partition and two data partitions, for example. And that's not allowing for cases such as two of the partitions being an experimental installation of Ubuntu … –  JdeBP Jan 25 '12 at 19:40
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one of the partitions contains the windows istallation, the two others contain data such as pictures, applications etc. –  user6004 Jan 27 '12 at 12:58
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2 Answers

you will need to install this on your xp install http://www.filehippo.com/download_easeus_partition_master_home/ then merge the 3 partitions together using it, once done, reboot and install windows 7.

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Lets say there is no "upgrade path" from XP to windows 7, and even if there was it would not be any form of insurance.

Then say a Drive costs about $79 USD and would provide you with a nice fresh drive to fresh install windows 7 on, and still have your data from the previous system. That $79 is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to paying someone to recover data, or endlessly dealing with possible unknowns from using methods other than fully clean install, and reinstall of your programs and data. Like say this method, which costs $10 more :-) http://www.zinstall.com/products/zinstall-xp7 And doesnt come with a free drive , a backup , and still requires a second computer to get them from.

After you get done installing a nice clean fresh untainted windows 7 on your nice new fresh disk that will last a long time. Then you get to properly install the programs you need under that system, so they will work correctally in most situations. You could apply that other disk to hold incramental backups of the system, if you ever run into problems.

and lets make sure that we point out to you, that it takes ~7 times as much space to store a Windows 7 system compared to XP (eventually) So dont skimp on the drive space allowed for the window 7 system partition.

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You can upgrade from XP to 7 via Vista if you have a Vista disc (no product key needed) –  kinokijuf Jan 25 '12 at 18:23
    
Thats good to know. When it comes to upgrades, especially if a person is doing the 32 to 64 thing too, I was playing around with the costs of time and trouble vrses the cost of a disk item. all in fun. –  Psycogeek Jan 25 '12 at 18:28
    
You can’t unfortunately do the 32 to 64 thing. –  kinokijuf Jan 25 '12 at 18:29
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