Seeing as how I'm starting to hate 18.10 more and more, I've decided on a downgrade.

Also seeing as how a downgrade is not really recommended and I'll have to probably go with a total reinstall, what's the optimal way for me to keep my data and only have the live-USB touch the OS and its related files only?

Think "soft" reinstall.

  • As user535733 stated in an answer - ensure you have backups first. Many of us have done what you plan to do many times, it rarely goes wrong, but better safe than sorry. The installation media should provide an option (replace existing install) that will do what you want, if not use something-else & tell it. Just ensure you don't have the format-box ticked (which I find easier to locate on something-else) and backup first, as user-error is the most likely error in my experience. – guiverc Dec 30 '18 at 4:59

Sorry that 18.10 is not working out for you.

Reinstalling an OS is inherently risky.

While the Ubuntu installer will TRY to preserve your data, it might fail.

This venue is littered with folks who did not read the options carefully, or who misunderstood the options offered, or who had a power loss, discovered a bug, suffered a hardware failure, had a cat-on-keyboard, etc.

If your data is valuable to you, then preserve it.

It's never failed me, but I always back up all data anyway.

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