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So I want to install Ubuntu by booting it from my external USB drive, as is outlined here. The thing is, I read here that the drive will be erased. My external drive is a 500GB HDD with a LOT of stuff on it, over 350GB of stuff, and I don't have anywhere to back it all up on (not to mention it would take a good while to do so, and then put it back again afterwards).

I do however see that the second link uses a different method than the first, so does the first also require the disk to be formatted? And if so, is there some way I can do this without formatting my entire drive?

My DVD drive is having issues so I can't install it from there, and a Wubi install doesn't want to work, so this is the last option I know of.

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That's painful... considering it's your backup drive, I would bite the bullet and ensure those files are safe before trying to use it to install Ubuntu.

I would recommend using a USB drive (that's how I just did it yesterday). Something like this:

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In the second link, there are two different things: installing Ubuntu through USB drive and installing Ubuntu on USB drive. And for the first one everything is the same. The USB drive will be erased only when it doesn’t have enough space or is partitioned as NTFS. In the case of you, it doesn’t need to be formatted.

And be sure, it won’t erase your hard disk automatically. If for any reason it wants to, it will ask you first.

After all, I highly recommend to use a USB flash as our friend mentioned.

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Note that you don’t have to click on that format button on the screenshots. – AliNa Feb 17 '13 at 20:47

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