Each time I put a bootable drive in the usb slot, it asks me if I want to install it. Can I use it to reinstall my OS without formatting my harddrive?

  • What do you want to do? Simply reinstall Ubuntu without losing your home directory?
    – werfu
    Feb 19, 2014 at 21:26
  • Well, I backed everything up, but it's been running out of battery really quickly lately, and so I'd like to reinstall the OS to clean it up.
    – JFA
    Feb 19, 2014 at 21:42
  • I don't think this is 100% OS related. A battery gets more weak the longer you use it. Reinstalling the OS might not solve your problem. Did you try whether it behaves the same when running a Live system?
    – s3lph
    Feb 19, 2014 at 21:45

1 Answer 1


Please correct me if I'm wrong - I haven't used Ubuntu in a while since I moved to Arch Linux.

I believe Ubiquity (the installer used in the Ubuntu LiveUSB) has the ability to reinstall Ubuntu over a previous install of Ubuntu while retaining all personal documents, pictures, music, etc. - in a nutshell, your home folder.

On the "Installation Type" screen during the install process from an Ubuntu LiveUSB, it should show an option along the lines of Replace Ubuntu <version> with Ubuntu <version>. These can be the same versions, and should preserve the contents of your home folder.

Note: This will not save your installed programs. If you're looking to do that, check out this question.

  • Can I use Ubiquity to install Xubuntu or another version of ubuntu?
    – JFA
    Feb 21, 2014 at 17:51
  • Yes. All officially supported distributions of Ubuntu (Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, UbuntuGnome, Edubuntu, etc.) use Ubiquity and support this feature, as far as I know.
    – ananaso
    Feb 21, 2014 at 22:14
  • Huh, for whatever reason, it was not detecting that I had an upgrade in the usb slot, and I couldn't figure out how to upgrade via Ubiquity since the option wasn't coming up. I wound up backing up my home drive and wiping anyway.
    – JFA
    Feb 22, 2014 at 1:03

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