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I have dual boot on my machine, Windows 7 and Windows XP, loader - standard Win7 loader. I want to temporarily install ubuntu on a disk space now occupied by Win7 and be able to load both ubuntu and win7. Then I'd like to restore the current state.

I know how to backup an OS using Acronis, and I have experience installing ubuntu and multi boot with windows, but the tricky part for me here, is that Ubuntu will install GRUB, and therefore I'll have to back up the loader and then restore it as well. What is the best way to do this? Is simply backing up the Win7 parition and MBR with Acronis True Image enough? Would Ubuntu correctly overwrite Win7 loader and pick up the XP?

Installing Ubuntu as a third system is not an option because of insufficient disk space. Installing Ubuntu without the ability to run XP, until Win7 is restored is an option, however I'd prefer to have access to XP.

P.S. I first posted this on superuser, but then (after getting zero answers) realized that the question would be more relevant here. Was I right?

UPDATE Apparently my question is not clear. To sum up:

What I have: Windows 7 and Windows XP, loaded by Windows 7 loader.

What I want to have: Ubuntu and Windows XP, loaded by GRUB. Ubuntu installed on the disk space now occupied by Windows 7. AND the ability to restore Windows 7.

How do I back it up correctly?

migrated from serverfault.com Mar 11 '15 at 16:15

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

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    you can skip installing grub while installing ubuntu, but i do recommend you making backup of your windows anyway before proceeding. – alexus Mar 11 '15 at 16:15
  • You actually want to use GRUB not the Windows Loader. If you want to dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu why are you going to replace Windows 7 with Ubuntu instead of replacing Windows XP with Ubuntu? Your goal is confusing. You also say you can't load all 3. Your question isn't clear. – Ramhound Mar 11 '15 at 16:21
  • @Ramhound I tried to clear it up. Dual boot in the title refers to general idea, I have dual boot now and I'd like to keep it with different OSs. The tricky part, as I said, is backing up and restoring loaders. – Stranger1399 Mar 11 '15 at 16:43
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Make a complete backup of your system including MBR using Acronis, then replace XP with Ubuntu and install grub in /dev/sda. When you are finished using Ubuntu and want to replace Ubuntu with XP, Install XP replacing Ubuntu (it will automatically replace grub), if it does not replace grub then uninstall it by using super grub disk (Click here for info) then fixmbr of windows 7 using windows 7 dvd (Click here for steps of fixmbr)

  • Thanks, I will try that. I am replacing 7, not XP. Also I'd like to avoid reinstalling. Would simply restoring the win7 parition and mbr from backup be enough? – Stranger1399 Mar 11 '15 at 16:33
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    If you want to use Ubuntu temporarily then it is better for to use Ubuntu live from USB disk. You don't need to install ubuntu , you can boot ubuntu directly from live media. Anway if you want to install Ubuntu and then restore windows 7, restoring would be enough but you may need to delete partition containing ubuntu first and fixmbr after restoring windows 7. It is not wise to install ubuntu on temporary basis and then restore windows , it may corrupt partition table and you may have to format your system. – Faizan Akram Dar Mar 11 '15 at 16:40
  • Thank you. I keep hearing that playing with linux may corrupt partition table and that dual boot is not the safest option. Could you tell me why is that, or, better yet, point me to some reading material? You'd think that by now linux got safe, more "neighborly" to other systems. – Stranger1399 Mar 11 '15 at 16:51
  • Burn a Linux installation then boot to the disk. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of tutorials that explain how to dual-boot Linux and Windows. – Ramhound Mar 11 '15 at 17:05
  • @Ramhound, with all due respect, what question are you answering with this comment? – Stranger1399 Mar 11 '15 at 17:13

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