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Windows 8 allows users to reinstall the operating system without removing documents, music, and pictures (basically, without removing the home folder); is there a similar function available in Ubuntu?

Windows defines their System Refresh option:

"If your PC isn't performing as well as it once did, and you don't know why, you can refresh your PC without deleting any of your personal files or changing your settings."

Don't care about losing settings. Do care about losing files. Is there a way I might be able to move files to a partition, or something workaround-ish like that?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted


Since Hardy it is possible to reinstall Ubuntu without losing the content of the /home folder (the folder that contains program settings, internet bookmarks, emails and all your documents, music, videos and other user files). This can be done even if /home is not on a separate partition (which is the case by default if you did not manually separate it when installing Ubuntu originally).

From the installer you get the option to reinstall. If I remember correctly the installer states documents, music etc will be kept, software will be kept where possible and system wide settings will be cleared.

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Awesome, @NGRhodes. Now, beyond the obvious directories, are there any hidden files or folders in the home directory that I should not delete prior to refreshing? – Phil Hobrla Mar 20 '14 at 13:19
Could well be, for example Thunderbird stores downloaded emails in .thunderbird, there could be others. – NGRhodes Mar 20 '14 at 16:08

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