I'm trying to learn linux, so I installed ubuntu onto a 64 gigabyte USB and restarted my computer and booted from the usb. When it was loaded it asked me if I wanted to "try without installing"(which is kind of like a trial right?). The second option was to "install ubuntu". I clicked this option and it said "no operating systems detected", so I assumed it would install onto the USB since I don't have windows or any other operating system on the USB stick. When it was all done I rebooted my computer and tried booting windows but it had been completely overwritten. I unplugged the USB stick with ubuntu on it and ubuntu had been installed onto my main HDD from the USB stick.

Luckily, I have recovery USB sticks that lenovo sent me, so when I get back to college I'll be able to recover windows, but I want to know what I did wrong, and what I need to do next time, so that I can learn from my mistake.

marked as duplicate by xangua, karel, Eric Carvalho, Pilot6, Eliah Kagan Jan 6 '17 at 12:09

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It is really too bad that this happened. I'm glad that you have recovery USB sticks.

I think (but am not sure) that Window was hibernated or semi-hibernated (alias fast startup), which means that linux cannot read the file systems, and should not read the file systems. But it also means that the installer does not discover Windows.

It is very important to identify the target for the installation, so that you are 99.9% sure, that you will install to the correct drive.

The good thing is that you know 'forever', that installing an operating system is risky. And you have those recovery sticks, so it could be worse. It is good to 'Try Ubuntu' for a considerable time before you decide to install.

And before installing, remember to always backup everything that you cannot afford to lose (or make a complete backup, for example a compressed image with Clonezilla).


Are there any personal files, that you want to recover? In that case, do not use the [internal] drive except for recovery, because you might overwrite what you want to restore. There is a tool, PhotoRec, that can recover files from the data stored in the drive's memory without a file system. It is hard work, because the file names and directory structure are lost (except if the file name is stored among the file data). Boot from another drive, for example your USB pendrive, install PhotoRec, and recover the important files before doing anything else with the internal drive.

  • I store all of my important documents/school work on DropBox so I don't have to worry about stuff like this happening :D. Is Ubuntu supposed to install directly onto the usb stick? Because I thought that you HAD to have the usb stick to run Ubuntu. I could be wrong. – Allen Birmingham Jan 5 '17 at 17:44
  • @AllenBirmingham No, Ubuntu is mainly intended to be installed on your internal (hard disk|SSD); it's much, MUCH faster that way. The "try without installing" option is so you can decide if you like the interface before you commit to installing. With a few tricks, you can make the USB stick version "persistent" and install stuff, store data, etc. (assuming your USB stick is big enough) -- but "normal" operation is installed on a hard disk. I've got two computers with Ubunutu as the only OS I use, and a third (older) machine with only Linux (not Ubuntu) on it. – Zeiss Ikon Jan 5 '17 at 17:48
  • The standard is to run Ubuntu live or persistent live from USB, and to install it into an internal drive. But it is possible to install Ubuntu into a fast USB 3 drive (or memory card) too. This is easiest and safest if you remove or disconnect the internal drive. Particularly in UEFI mode, it 'wants to' install at least the bootloader into the first drive, which is usually the internal drive, seen as /dev/sda by Ubuntu. See this link and links from it for more details, ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2230389 – sudodus Jan 5 '17 at 17:52

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