I want to have a fresh Ubuntu start, with everything being default. But I don't want to lose files, I have lots of movies, documents etc. I don't want to remove, and I can't backup them, because they take too much space. Is it possible?

  • this probably isn't what you are after but i just install the fresh ubuntu onto a new partition.My older ubuntu partitions are easily mounted and music/movies/files easily retrieved
    – damien
    Sep 22, 2013 at 12:43

4 Answers 4


To avoid this problem in future, consider installing Ubuntu with a / partition and a /home partition. Then, when you upgrade, you can either overwrite / or make a new / partition for your new Ubuntu, leaving the /home partition intact to be accessed from whichever version of Ubuntu you choose to fire up from the grub menu. I have used this strategy for all my Ubuntu installs on several machines, and it has enabled me to upgrade relatively painlessly on numerous occasions without losing personal data files.

But, I always back things up first in any case. It really is worth getting a large usb external disk to back up your /home partition or directory. You never know when your hard drive is going to go ...


When installing Ubuntu you can use the "side by side" option when you are at the partitioning phase of the installation.

It will keep your existing ubuntu and install you a new one.

The side effect is that your old ubuntu will be in another partition of your hard drive. You'll have to :

  • Resize this partition during installation in order to give space to your new ubuntu
  • Clean grub from the old Ubuntu
  • Clean the other partition (containing your old ubuntu and movies) from the unused system files.

I concur to Bobble's suggestion.

Before you reinstall Ubuntu, run the "Try Ubuntu" option, and perform the following steps. I don't recommend to do this to an unexperienced user without a backup! If everything goes as planned, you won't need one, but else – who knows? Borrow a sufficiently large external drive from a friend, if you can't afford one. It is always a good idea to have a backup anyway.

  1. Mount your old partition.
  2. Delete everything except your home directory. You should now have enough space for a new installation.
  3. Assuming a default setup, delete everything in your home directory starting with a dot except .local, .ecryptfs, .Private, i. e.:

    find /media/old-partition/home/mrSuperEvening -mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1 -name .\* ! -name .local ! -name .ecryptfs ! -name .Private -exec rm -rf -- \{\} +

    You have now deleted all user configuration. Skip this, if you still need it.

  4. Unmount the old partition.
  5. Resize it with GParted so that enough free space remains on the drive for a new Ubuntu installation.
  6. Reinstall Ubuntu on a new partition in the free space and use the old partition as /home.
  7. Your old data should now reside in /home/home/mrSuperEvening and you can move it wherever you like, i. e. to /home/mrSuperEvening.

You can use the Ubuntu DVD to reinstall it then you can create a new account or - better - remove all hidden configuration files. To do this open the File manager, press CTRL + H then delete .config. You can also delete other hidden files and folders if you need to.

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