I've decided to make a complete switch to Ubuntu..

My thing is, In windows if the OS crashes (which happens very often) all the data in drives D:\, E:\ etc., will be safe. I format the C:\get the new OS there again.

How do I achieve the same functionality in ubuntu.

Please shed some light :)


You should separate a couple of things

Losing data

  • You can lose data if you format your drive, or if it breaks.
  • Only seperate drives can protect you from hardware failure, partitions don't.
  • You can break the filesystem on a partition, but this not very likely. If you do this, only the partition, not the complete disk is affected

Broken OS

If your OS is broken, it can be a really good thing to have your data (like /home, or /movies) on seperate paritions, like you are suggesting. Please do so! This way you can fill up your disc with movies while your OS remains save from having no space at all, and much more of that stuff!

As I read in the comments on one of the other answers, you are doing this. That is good!

Ubuntu file structure

Where windows shows your filesystems with a letter ( Like C: or D:), linux doesn't do this, linux just calls everything a directory.

So you'd have /, and a bit further on you mount the partition home on /home. This looks like it's one big thing, but this doens't mean that if your OS gets 'broken', your /home is gone. You just format your main partition (this will NOT affect your /home. This is a bit tricky, but while it looks like some sort of subdir, it is "mounted", so it's only having some sort of shortcut in that spot. your data is safe!). After you have choosen your borked partition for a new os, you can choose the partition you use for your home files as mountpoint for the /home directory in your new os, and presto!

  • now, I remove my 32bit ubuntu 11.10 and install 64bit 12.04.. while I do this, all I have to do is.. see to it that /home is not marked for formatting, and that does my job ?? – b-ak Jan 26 '13 at 9:55
  • Yes. You should be aware that you do not format a directory structure, like you seem to do on windows, but you format a partition. SO you might have one part of 50G for you OS, and you mount that on / You also have 500G part you have mounted on /home. What you will format is NOT /, but you format "that 50G partition you have here". This is how the interface looks. The mounting (the part were you tell that the 500G thing should go to /home hasn't been done yet, so no change to mess that up. – Nanne Jan 26 '13 at 13:05
  • ur last 2 sentences confuse me a little bit.. I just did this it worked fine.. I put in my 12.04 disc, marked / and /boot for formatting. All data in my /home is fine.. So similarly I can have /data-part /documents /blah-blah-blah, right ?? – b-ak Jan 26 '13 at 17:12
  • 1
    I suppose, but your net showing the complete picture in one go, so it is hard to help you. The points you need to understand are; 1: your disk has PARTITIONS. if you format one, the others are not touched. 2: you can MOUNT those partitinos in a directory. Those have nothing to do with what's "above" them, so even if "/home" IS 'under' "/", that doesn't mean the PARTITION where /home lives is changed if you have formatted another one. that's all there is. – Nanne Jan 26 '13 at 18:19

When you install Ubuntu you can choose to make your own partition set up.

See this link for an example


  • Yeah I know that.. I have been doing that all along.. – b-ak Jan 26 '13 at 7:59
  • If u can see.. the link shows 45.4gib allocated for /home, which will be earsed if I reinstall the OS.. – b-ak Jan 26 '13 at 8:00
  • It will only be erased if you erase it. – njsg Jan 26 '13 at 9:02
  • 2
    @Bhargav At the partitionscreen there is a checkbox for format. Be sure that it is unchecked at install and nothing will ereased. – lub Jan 26 '13 at 9:20

How about using gparted for partitioning the drive? Then when you have partitioned the drive, Ubuntu displays it in the Starter.

  • are u sure its take only that much to get it working ??.. Remember I should not loose any of the contents when my OS goes kaput.. – b-ak Jan 26 '13 at 7:55
  • Well... You only boot from your main drive, don't you? – flameNugget Jan 30 '13 at 18:41

I think that, for a start, the feature you're asking for is not a feature, just a mere misunderstanding of the Windows installation procedure. I may not be an active Windows user, but I've gone through several installs when I, for some reason, needed Windows around. And both NT and non-NT offer the option to install on an existing drive.

In fact, one way to fix issues with windows is to install on an already existing file system, doing no changes. You do not lose any data in the C: partition (not drive, what the OS sees are filesystems on partitions; some disks/drives may be formatted without partitions, that's for sure, but the usual is to have partitions).

You will only lose data in C: if you tell windows to format it. So wait, you tell windows to format it, then you complain your data is gone. Perhaps you should not have told it to format the data, to start with.

Also, from what I remember, Windows NT separates user data and settings from the rest of the system, by offering a Documents and Settings folder. So, if you really want to start from scratch you can just go there and delete the Windows folder, and keep Documents and Settings.

Once again, unless you tell the Windows setup to format the partition, you won't lose any data. One of the best ways to avoid shooting your own feet is not to fire the gun. And, in this case, you are trying to use a gun when a broom would suffice, or maybe there's not even a need for cleaning at all.

So this is not functionality you're asking for, you're asking for a way to use the same exaggerated workaround you did use in Windows. I'm afraid this can't be helped a lot. Just like Windows, even if GNU/Linux does partitions, if you tell it to erase everything and start from scratch, that's what it will do.

You can have separate partitions for, say /home, that's the best way to achieve some kind of separation. But your comment of "If u can see.. the link shows 45.4gib allocated for /home, which will be earsed if I reinstall the OS.." shows that you are not understanding this at all. Ok, maybe the Ubuntu installer is so bad that it does not let you use existing partitions, but I thought it had a somewhat more advanced partitioning tool.

Once again, like Windows, there is an option to get rid of everything and start from scratch. You just have to read what is in front of you and not click in the option that will obviously get rid of your data...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.