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I have Windows 7 installed. I want to switch to Ubuntu 12.04 without losing any of my data.

In other words, I want to have all my files accessible from Ubuntu.

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You should back up all of your Windows files onto a hard drive and then copy them after installing Ubuntu if you want to switch to Ubuntu and not dualboot. Or, dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu and then you can view all of your files on Windows 7 from Ubuntu 12.04. –  sameetandpotatoes Aug 5 '13 at 23:52

3 Answers 3

First make a backup of all the files that you want to keep

This should be made in every case. A computer or a hard drive can always fail, so everyone who has important files should make backups from time to time. You'll especially need to do this in both of this cases.

"I want to use Ubuntu and Windows side by side (dual boot)"

Do this if you want to decide when you turn on your machine whether you want to use windows or Ubuntu. When you install Ubuntu, it will offer you to install it besides your Windows installation. You can access the files on your Windows system easily, since it will appear as a hard drive in the file browser of Ubuntu.

In short:

  • (you may do a backup of your most important files (recommended), just to be on the safe way)
  • download disc image and create a bootable usb device or CD/DVD
  • boot from the device you created
  • follow the instructions to install Ubuntu besides Windows
  • to access your files just go to the file manager and search for the windows hdd partition.

"I want to use Ubuntu only and delete Windows (and therefore all it's files)"

The easiest will be to backup all the files you need (for example on an external HDD or other USB device) and install Ubuntu from scratch. It's exactly the same as above, but while installation choose to delete windows and use ubuntu only. All files will be deleted, so make sure your backup is complete.

In short:

  • make a backup of all the files you want to keep.
  • download disc image and create a bootable usb device or CD/DVD
  • boot from the device you created
  • follow the instructions to install Ubuntu, and choose to delete Windows during installation.
  • copy the backup on your Ubuntu installation.
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If you are dual booting then they should be accessible from the file manager in Ubuntu. If you are replacing Windows with Ubuntu then you would need to back everything up and transfer after you finish installing.

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First of all, do a backup of all your personal data. I'm not saying that you will surely loss all your information, just in the rare cases somethings happens it's better to be prepared. The way you backup your data is all up to you.

Now, you didn't specify if you want Dual Boot (both Ubuntu and Windows installed in their own partition and you can select what to use at boot) or wipe out your system and use only Ubuntu (in this case the backup is mandatory, since there isn't a simple way to migrate your data, that I'm aware of).

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