I have Ubuntu 10.10 installed in my PC and I want to install Windows 7 in another drive, which partially contains some data, so that I can use both OSs in a dual boot scheme.

I have read on the web of taking a backup of the data on the other drive, formatting it, and then installing Windows 7, but even then I am not really sure weather the dual boot would work. Is there any easier way of doing this without taking backup and formating?

Is there any automatic way of installing Windows 7 on the drive while keeping the files as they are (making a partition on the way)?

I will also be happy if anyone has an idea for any work around for this problem, or a link to a page describing the same problem.

migrated from stackoverflow.com Feb 28 '12 at 14:41

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  • 2
    It depends on whether your intended destination is already a primary partition, and what filesystem it's using. You should definitely make a backup first, even if you do find a way to leave the files intact. – Ben Voigt Feb 28 '12 at 14:07

Windows 7 needs a NTFS partition it can take over as part of the install. Odds are that you created that spare Linux data partition as a Unix disk partition. The Windows 7 install will never find that as-is. Your options are: - Free up the 2nd partition by moving those files to the first or another external drive. Delete the partition. Install Windows 7, allowing it to use the now free disk space. When this is done, you'll need to re-install Grub2 so prepare for that option prior to installing. (otherwise you'll only have a windows 7 pc. Grub will allow booting Ubuntu and Windows.) - Use a virtual PC software (VirtualBox is free and runs on linux). You install virtual box, and then install windows 7 thru that. If you only occasionally run some windows apps, this might be better for you.


You can do that. It is probally best to move your data off the drive you want to format and then put it back afterwards. Just make sure you back it up to a location that will not be tampered with when you install a new OS.

If you are planning to have 1 drive 2 OS's then you should back up your linux partition too. I can't verify but a little bird told me once that installing Windows on an Ubuntu system can get flaky and it should be done the other way around (Windows, then Linux). If you are doing 2 drives 2 OSs it won't be nessacary but it couldn't hurt.

Things to keep in mind

  • Your Drive will need to be formatted NTFS style to install Windows 7
  • Make sure your PC can handle Windows 7 (I am assuming it can)
  • Booting etc. can become corrupt if you are not careful so backup, backup, backup


Small tutorial

Lengthy discussion on this topic.


I like both of the answers above, but one other method you could consider is (after making the space for W7 and backing everything up) to go ahead and install 7, then install the EasyBCD bootloader. It'll find and boot all of the installed OSes.

Personally, I've had problems with GRUB2 and am not all that crazy about it. EasyBCD does the job on this box. It writes entries into the Windows bootloader.


[scroll down to find the 'free for noncommercial use' version]

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