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I'm looking to install Ubuntu 11.04 and I've been reading through the sites instructions but I am still wondering that if i were to install it would it keep all of my original files from my windows 7 os?

Or would I have to reinstall and re-add my old documents once installing Ubuntu?

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You can absolutely install Ubuntu 11.04 without messing at all with your Windows 7 installation or documents. When you go through the installation process, you will be asked what you want to do. You will be given the option of wiping out everything on the hard drive and installing Ubuntu - you don't want to do that! - but also the option of installing Ubuntu alongside Windows. It will even ask you if you want to import your documents, music, pictures, etc., into Ubuntu, and if you choose to do so it will make those things available in Ubuntu without messing them up in Windows.

I am fairly new to Ubuntu, having installed it only about five months ago. I was concerned about the same thing, and found the installation extremely safe and comfortable. I still have my Windows 7 partition (which I rarely use), and everything is still there and unmolested. I use a dual-boot scenario (installed by Ubuntu during the installation process) and it allows me to choose which OS I want to boot into whenever I reboot, and it works exactly as advertised.

Of course, it is always recommended that with any installation of a new or additional OS, you make a backup just to be sure. At least in my case, however, the Ubuntu installation was safe and worked perfectly.

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Edit: Please read the stuff below, however I have found a nice picture guide for you, which will guide you through the process here: Picture Guide

The other 2 answers are great, always make sure you backup your important stuff before doing anything with your partitions. Even if this means just uploading to say Dropbox, Ubuntu One, or even e-mailing them to yourself.

Remember: Any work that gets done to partions, could potentially cause problems - especially where resizing and creating new partitions are involved.

That being said, usually things go quite smoothly, and its not very often that things go wrong - but you'll be glad you had backups in case things do!

If your new to installing Linux/Ubuntu... then just follow the install disc, and make sure you don't rush things. What you want to keep an eye out for, is trying to get them to dual-boot... you don't want Ubuntu installed onto the full system. It should just detect Windows, and give you the option of how much space you can give to both Windows and Ubuntu, with a slider that you can move about to change them. You should see something like this picture:

enter image description here

If I recall, that's an oldish picture (10.04/10.10). However the new one still has something very similar. So keep an eye out for it, and make sure you pick according to what you want to do (in this case, installing "side-by-side"). Make sure you move the slider along to how much you want to give to both... I wouldn't recommend the "advanced" option, unless you know what your doing (you need some partitioning knowledge for that, along with how linux file things - but these will come with time, the more you use ubuntu).

Hopefully that helps you out.

P.S. Just did a bit of digging and found this screenshot which shows you what you'll see on the 11.04 natty narwhal install disc:

enter image description here

The next screen should give you the sliders I mentioned earlier, or at least something to specify the sizes for each.

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As long as you take your time and don't rush decisions if you're not sure then your windows installation will be fine, though I would be inclined to do the partition work with the windows tool rather than the editors on the livecd.

Make sure you have backups of anything you cannot afford to lose, that includes making sure you have the discs available to reinstall windows if you do happen to make a mistake and not notice until it's too late.

Before you start - and assuming that you've not done so yet - make sure that you have a good download to burn from - you can use md5sum to do that - you'll also need the hash to check against, instructions for that here

Once you've done that and verified the burn is good -

I would use the livecd (or USB if you install that way) to ensure you're hardware all works as expected before you install.

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I advise you to backup if it's the first time you install Ubuntu. We never know if the partitioning tool won't like your computer and crash, but I DON'T advise you to use Windows tools for that, because the worst thing that happened to me when it comes to problems with files/partitions was while I was doing exactly that. I lost everything I had in my computer. Even when the lights went out in the middle of a resize process (using the tool that is included in the Ubuntu live cd), I could get my files back, but not when I used the Windows one.

But if everything goes right while repartitioning, you can rest assure that Ubuntu won't touch your files. :)

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