I have a system with Windows XP. My hard disk has 189 GB NTFS. I want to change the operative system to windows 7, but I want to add Ubuntu as well. As the change might take several days (because I don't have much time) I want to install one system (or Windows 7 or Ubuntu) keeping my windows XP installed in another partition so if something doesn't work in thebrand new operating system installed I can use my Windows XP installation.

So I've thouht about doing something like this:

  1. Copy the data I want to keep to an external hard disk.
  2. Make partitions enough to install windows 7, keep data in another partition and another one to install Ubuntu.
  3. Copy the data I want to keep to the partition I've just created.
  4. Install Ubuntu in the partitions for Ubuntu.
  5. Check if Ubuntu works fine
  6. If it works OK install Windows 7 on the partition of Windows XP (Windows XP will be erased).
  7. Reinstall the programs in Windows 7.

So my question is:

  • How many partitions do you recommend me to have (and the size of each one and NTFS or FAT32)? The operative system I'm going to use more is Windows 7 (though I love Linux I use many programs which are windows dependant).
  • Do you think I should do anything else / change something in the proccess to avoid any problem? I don't know if making the partitions can harm the data I have in the disk.


  • Best thing to do is buy another hard drive to install Ubuntu-W7 on, this way you can go back to XP fairly quick if need be. This way you can take your time and not worry about having a bootable and working PC during the install of a dual boot system.
    – Moab
    Jan 17, 2011 at 21:19
  • @Moab Thanks for the comment, maybe I wanted to install too many things in a single disk. I'll buy another disk but I'll install in this one windows 7. I want to make 2 partitions: one for windows 7 and to install programs and another for data. Which size should I use for each partition?
    – Juanillo
    Jan 18, 2011 at 16:06
  • Windows 7 needs a bare minimum of 40gb, but I suggest a minimum of 80gb. Its up to you how much over 80 you choose.
    – Moab
    Jan 18, 2011 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


Buying another hard drive would be the easiest and give the best end result. But, if you really want to have them both on the same disk that works too. I would recommend four partitions. The sizes of the partitions really depends on how much room you need for data.

(1) Windows 7 NTFS (minimum 30GB) (2) Ubuntu EXT4 (minimum 20GB) (3) Data NTFS (4) Linux Swap (double the amount of RAM)

Backup any important data just in case. Shrink your XP partition into your Data partition then install Windows 7 and Ubuntu. Be sure Ubuntu is going to mount your data partition to "/mnt/data" and not mount your Windows partition. Once you have those setup either format the partition then copy the files back or delete all the XP files and keep your data.

Next set your Documents, Videos, Pictures, etc. locations to the data drive on both OSes. You will now be able to access both your OSes.

Another solution is to run one operating system in a virtual machine or use Wine.

  • Thanks for the answer, I hink I'll buy a new disk too and install in this one only windows 7 and a partition for data. Which should be the recommendated size for Windows 7 and programs partition and another one for data?
    – Juanillo
    Jan 18, 2011 at 16:04
  • Its really depends on what you want to put in each partition. On my Windows box I have an 80GB Windows partition and a 160GB data partition. My Windows partition is currently about half full. I put everything that I need to keep on my Data partition including documents, media, Firefox profile, Steam and other games that I don't want to have to re-download. If you want to install big programs/games to your windows partition you will need more room in your Windows partition.
    – bzeghers
    Jan 18, 2011 at 20:43

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