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If I copy the Ubuntu install files to USB in order to install on another PC, will it reformat (i.e. delete) everything on that USB drive? Or will it still function as before and all previous files remain on it?

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If you want to make a LiveUSB to install from then no, the existing files will not be deleted by the "startup disk creator" program. The USB stick will already need to be formatted as FAT however, the partition table will need to acceptible to the program, and there will need to be enough room for the iso and a persistence file if you want one.

Other USB boot device creators may work differently.

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No, no other action should take place but the one you're requesting your PC to do, copy files.

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Ok, because i'm using someone elses external hdd with about 500gb of data on. Certain it wont affect that? Thanks :) – Tom Oct 11 '12 at 20:26
If you're just copying files, but not installing Ubuntu in the external drive, then nothing will happen. How are you copying files? – Uri Herrera Oct 11 '12 at 20:33
Understanding that "copying the files" won't create a bootable hard disk drive so the computer where you put the disk won't boot. If you wish to copy your current installation, you may wish to take a look at the answer to previous questions like this: – Geppettvs D'Constanzo Oct 11 '12 at 20:46

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