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i have a hp laptop which currently has no HDD installed into it,so i decided to install windows to my Western Digital my passport 2TB external hard drive.

i found two article on how to install windows on external hard drive.

one using the waik and one easy install with wintousb(both article available on into windows website).

now in both article at some point it says i shoud format the hard drive.

so my first question is can i make another partition separate from my data partition on the same hard drive and use that as windows partition without losing any data ?

secondly what are the chances that my data gets lost at some point(consider that i have no backup of my data and the data is much more crucial then having windows) ?

i currently have Ubuntu 15.04 install on the same external hard drive on it's own partition.

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Hello vaas montenegro,

Firstly to answer your questions:

so my first question is can i make another partition separate from my data partition on the same hard drive and use that as windows partition without losing any data ?

Yes, you can make another partition, but it is rather complicated and risky. You can use tools like "GParted" or similar to resize a partition on your external drive and create a new partition in the freed space. You cannot use GParted from the Ubuntu installation, because the system partition would be blocked. You need to boot GParted live from USB or CD. However, I strongly recommend NOT doing this if you cannot afford losing the entire data, due to the following reasons:

  • Power failure or hardware error might prevent the process from completing.
  • The tools might have bugs.
  • You might accidentally select and format the wrong partition and lose the data.

If the process is interrupted your data might be lost, or you might need a very time consuming procedure to recover the data.

In case your data is not that important and you can afford to lose it, then maybe you can try to resize the partitions.

I am not 100% confident about that but my impression is that there is sometimes a difference between a GParted formatted partition and a Windows formatted one, even if you use the same NTFS format. In order to avoid errors, I prefer formatting with Windows itself and formatting the whole drive from scratch (no resizing).

secondly what are the chances that my data gets lost at some point(consider that i have no backup of my data and the data is much more crucial then having windows) ?

In this case I strongly discourage you from meddling with the external drive's partitions. In your shoes I would also create a second copy of this data - you never know, disks go deffective sometimes (10 years on paper, but I would not take chances).

And now some ideas:

  • You can buy a USB pen drive with USB 3.0 and 64 or even 128 GB and install windows on it. Should cost about 20-30 $ online.
  • Buying a second external drive and copying your data would be also a good idea, if you can afford it. I always keep at least 4 identical copies of all my files in different locations.
  • If you have a laptop with a HDD/DVD Caddy like this one for Lenovo - check your compatibility first (my favorite option), then you can remove the DVD drive and buy a caddy with a 2.5" internal HDD, on which you could install Windows. For the installation itself you need to attach it internally - you need of course both DVD and the HDD. But after the installation it can be in the caddy.
  • If you don't mind, you can install Windows in a virtual machine in your Ubuntu. This would store the data in a file. You can use software like QEMU (raw or with libvirt and virt-manager) or VirtualBox, VMWare, ...

I wish you good luck.

  • i already have a 40 GB partition on external hard drive. – vaas montenegro Apr 27 '16 at 9:59
  • when i say what are the chances that i lose my data i mean when installing windows.i want to know when formating the drive according to the article the whole drive gets formated or only the windows partition – vaas montenegro Apr 27 '16 at 10:02
  • You did not give a link to the article you were reading. Can you post the link? If you have a free partition to use, then in theory it should be possible to install Windows on the free partition relatively safely. In practice you have to be careful though - there are some issues that might occur. For example: - When installing Windows be extremely careful when configuring the disk options - which disk to use and what and how to format. Be sure never to touch the partition with the data. ... – mbax Apr 27 '16 at 11:16
  • - Windows likes owning the Master Boot Record. After the installation there is a chance that Ubuntu won't boot. If this happens, then the Master Boot Record of the Drive needs to be fixed and also you need to configure a boot loaded (like GRUB or SYSLINUX) to be able to select the OS at startup. The easier way is to first install Windows on a partition and then install Linux with a boot loader on the MBR,because Windows did not respect (at least up until XP) other boot partition types. If you are lucky, it will work out of the box.If not - you will have to load Ubuntu and fix the MBR manually. – mbax Apr 27 '16 at 11:19
  • I personally would never meddle with such disk before backing up my important data, but this is a personal judgement. – mbax Apr 27 '16 at 11:21

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