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You’ve installed Ubuntu on your PC alongside Windows in a dual-boot arrangement.

But for some reason, things didn’t go too well. Perhaps you ran into some bugs, or perhaps you just didn’t feel ready to migrate from Windows to Linux 5 Tips That Make Switching to Linux From Windows Easy 5 Tips That Make Switching to Linux From Windows Easy There are many reasons to migrate from Windows to Linux. For instance, Linux might offer a lightweight environment. If you're tired of Windows and want a change, switching to Linux should be easy. Read More . That’s okay. However, you’ve got a bit of a problem.

That problem is a Linux partition on your PC’s hard disk drive, taking up space that you need for your Windows files and folders (or perhaps another attempt at dual-booting Linux Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu If you discover that Windows 8 isn't quite your cup of tea, and you have no feasible path to downgrade, it may be a good idea to dual boot with Linux to have an alternative... Read More ).

In short, you need to uninstall Ubuntu from your PC. How can you do that safely, without losing data from Ubuntu or Windows?

What Is Dual-Booting?

As a brief explainer, dual-booting is the act of installing two operating systems into separate partitions on a hard disk drive. This can be useful for migrating from one operating system to another (for instance, from Windows to Linux). It’s also valuable if you use one OS for some tasks. (You might have a Linux PC at home, but use Windows at work).

Dual-Boot-Linux-Win
Image credit: tmlee9 Flickr via Compfight cc

While running a virtual machine is one option to enjoy multiple operating systems on the same PC, it isn’t quite as flexible as dual-booting. Both options have their strengths and weaknesses.

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Be aware that you can go beyond dual-booting. If you were fortunate enough to be able to run macOS on your hardware Tech Recipe: Optimum Hardware Components for a Perfect Hackintosh Tech Recipe: Optimum Hardware Components for a Perfect Hackintosh Thinking of building a Hackintosh? You can make a Mac Pro for half the price of the real thing. I put together a custom Hackintosh using information gleamed from several Hackintosh enthusiast sites. Even with... Read More , for example (or simply installed additional Linux versions), then you could describe this as “multibooting.”

Get Started: Backup Your Files

If you’ve been using Ubuntu for a while, or you’ve just spent a few days with it, there will almost certainly be a couple of files you want to retain. The answer, of course, is to back these up.

How might you back up data on a Linux partition? One way is to use the standard backup tools found in Ubuntu How to Make Data Backups on Ubuntu & Other Distros How to Make Data Backups on Ubuntu & Other Distros How much sensitive data would you lose if your disk drive died? Naturally, you need a backup solution, but making backups in Linux can be tricky if you don't know what you're doing... Read More . Other Linux operating systems also ship with backup tools. You’ll also find backup utilities that can be installed from your distribution’s package manager Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More .

You might also opt for a more straightforward solution. Dropbox will run on Linux, so installing the Dropbox client on your Linux OS and syncing your data to the cloud would be sufficient. Alternatively, resort to a removable USB drive.

It’s even possible to use the Linux file manager to copy and paste your personal files from Linux into the Windows partition. Ensure you save the data in an easy-to-find location, with a clearly labeled directory name, for ease of discovery.

Should you find that things go wrong and you can’t boot into Linux to recover your data, you can use a Windows tool like DiskInternals Linux Reader to read the ext2 or ext3 file system and recover your files.

Given that we’re going to be deleting data from the HDD, for complete data safety, it’s also worth making sure that you have a recent backup of your personal data from the Windows partition.

Uninstall Ubuntu: Delete the Linux Partition

Once you’re happy that you have retrieved the data you mean to keep from your Ubuntu partition, you can simply delete it.

It really is that simple. Boot into Windows and open Computer Management. You’ll need admin privileges for this, so if yours is the main account on the PC, that should be fine. If not, you’ll need to make some changes to your account, or login as admin.

Next, right-click the Start button, and select Disk Management. Here, you’ll see your partitions listed. You’ll need to identify the Linux partition; you can double check this by using the DiskInternals tool. You should also be aware of the partition size, and be sure that this matches the size of the main storage device when you’re running Ubuntu.

Avoid deleting any partitions that you need!

Once you’re certain, it’s time to delete the partition. Right-click the partition, and select Delete Volume. This simple action will delete Ubuntu from your PC. The GRUB 2.0 bootloader will also be gone, which means no more operating system selection screen.

However, it also means that there is no means to boot the remaining OS.

How to Restore the MBR

To get around this, you need to restore the Master Boot Record, or MBR. You have a couple of options here:

  1. Use Windows to repair the MBR.
  2. Employ a third-party tool, such as Hiren’s Boot CD Hiren's Boot CD - The All-In-One Boot CD For Every Need Hiren's Boot CD - The All-In-One Boot CD For Every Need Read More . This option is best if you’re not using Windows 10.

We’re going to focus on using Windows 10 to repair the MBR.

Begin by downloading the Windows 10 installation files (which is perfectly acceptable if you’re using a legitimate copy) and create a bootable USB or DVD How to Legally Download Windows Installation Files for Free How to Legally Download Windows Installation Files for Free Windows can get seriously broken. What you often need to do is to install it from scratch. And we show you how to get legal installation files for Windows 7 through 10. Read More .

Next, insert the disc, restart the computer, and tap the correct key to enter the BIOS to change the settings (the key differs depending on the manufacturer of your computer). The aim here is to ensure that the computer boots from the Windows 10 installation disc.

Restart to boot from the installation disc, and click Repair Your Computer. Next, select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt. Here, we use the Bootrec.exe tool using the fixbbr command.

First, enter:

bootrec /fixmbr

This will clean things up. Follow it with:

bootrec /fixboot

FixBoot is used when a non-Windows boot record has been removed.

At this stage, you can finish off with

bootrec /scanos

This command scans the HDD for suitable operating systems. If you’re using Windows 10 alongside another Windows OS, it will be detected here. If you’re having problems with this, try

bootrec /rebuildbcd

At this point, you’re done. But if Windows doesn’t boot when you exit the command prompt and restart your computer (remembering to reselect the original boot disk in the BIOS), then you’ve got problems. This might involve reinstalling Windows 10, but first try the recovery partition The Best Way to Clean Windows 10: A Step-by-Step Guide The Best Way to Clean Windows 10: A Step-by-Step Guide If your Windows 10 PC needs cleaning, here are the tools and a step-by-step process to get it squeaky clean again. Read More .

Reclaim or Reuse the Free Space

You’ll now have a chunk of free space. To use this, it will need partitioning and formatting.

If you don’t know how to do this, simply run Disk Management as described above, select the empty space, right-click and choose the New Volume… option that suits your requirements. Alternatively, right-click the volume to the left of the empty space, and select Extend Volume to increase the size of the partition. This video will help:

Reclaimed by Windows, this space can now be accessed via a new drive letter. It’s available for whatever you want to store on it: personal data, games, videos, or anything else. Everything is back to normal!

Have you removed Ubuntu or another operating system from your dual-booting Windows PC? Did it go well, or did you run into trouble? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. Dave Goodacre
    May 15, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I successfully loaded and used for 3 years Ubuntu 12.04. I went away for a month and on return, found that I could not load the Ubuntu, at first I got a brief grub message then nothing.
    I am not any expert with these things and am 'flummoxed' I want to replace the 12,04 with a more uptodate modle, but am scared of losing info fromthe XP side - any advice would be gratefully accepted.

  2. Bajiru
    May 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    This guide is very simple, and also recovering the MBR is simple, but I had a problem with Windows activation.

    I first installed Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander dual-boot with Windows 7 Starter, but the Unity Desktop Environment wouldn't start. I tried some commands, but it didn't work. So, I deleted the partitions, fixed the MBR (with a Windows Repair Disc created by a Winows feature which allows to do so), but when I restarted, my Windows installation was deactivated. I searched for my product key, I re-installed it and it was giving me an error. I searched for this on Microsoft and it said something like this: "The server did not recognize the key, but it was correct. Please btry to re-install it." I tried so (almost 20 times by now) and it didn't work AT ALL. I installed Ubuntu 12.04.5 LTS Precise Pangolin as dual-boot again (and it thankfully worked well). 2 weeks ago, I installed Xubuntu, found a program which made my Windows installation recognizable by Microsoft servers. It installed a different key. I restarted and it worked! I got my Windows back! However, it was a virus(infecting my PC with adware, not destroying Windows files) and I managed to delete it. I did the same now with deleting my Xubuntu installation, but I do not want to start this craze AGAIN and infecting my PC with a virus.

    So, will it work now or not? Also I'm going to install Ubuntu with Wubi. Will this install GRUB?

    Thanks in advance,
    Bajiru

  3. Paul
    March 27, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    I'm unable to delete the Linux partitions from Disk Management. Any way to get around this?

    • Christian Cawley
      March 29, 2017 at 7:33 am

      WHat's the exact error message, Paul?

      You may need to run DISKPART in a command prompt as admin, but without full details I can't give you a definitive answer.

  4. ppa
    February 22, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Rubbish...
    HOw do I get a disk with Windows?

  5. P. Oed
    December 26, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    As long as Linux is so DOS like it will never be fully realized. Linux for Geeks and even geeks don't understand it; just linux elitist, and they enjoy keeping it to themselves for a sense of power. Power over nothing is still nothing.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 29, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Doesn't explain the success of the Raspberry Pi...

  6. Anonymous
    September 28, 2015 at 7:54 am

    also, worth creating a Linux boot disc too (just in case you need to go back).

  7. Anonymous
    September 28, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Yes, the partition tool is used to get back the space.

    I actually created a windows 7 boot disc first, because when the partitions are deleted a boot disc is required (since the PC does not have boot instruction at this point).

    I then did the upgrade from win7 to win10.

    One could directly go to win10, but to be safe make sure a win7 boot disc is also created.

    Hope this helps.

  8. Anonymous
    August 8, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Ubuntu with windows 7... migrating to windows 10 (so one operating system).
    Followed instruction & works.

    2 ubuntu partitions deleted.
    windows 10 iso disc created from windows website.
    partition magic (from http://www.partition-tool.com) used to resize windows partition.
    FYI. the free version was sufficient.

    Thanks.
    Took time, but worked well..!

    • Anonymous
      September 28, 2015 at 7:25 am

      Hey doefcoe, so first i create the win 10 iso disk from windows website, then delete the ubuntu partitions? and then i use the partition tool after everything is done?

  9. Anonymous
    August 7, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Thanks a lot :)

  10. Anonymous
    June 5, 2015 at 6:33 am

    I do not have a Windows cd or dvd . Is there any alternative

    • BillV
      March 7, 2016 at 4:27 am

      I realize this is an old post now, either you found the alternative or moved on to something else however, for others wanting to know same thing, you can create a multi-boot thumb drive from http://www.pendrivelinux.com/ that will have the DOS recovery tools in it that you can restore the MBR without needing the original Windows install CD or DVD.

  11. Ssejjemba Daniel
    May 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    My pc will not load the windows cd it keeps warning no operating system found and then goes to grub recovery

  12. Pastnormal
    April 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

    This worked for me. I uninstalled Linux Mint from a dual boot with Windows XP. Now I'm going to upgrade to Windows 7, and reinstall Mint on another PC.

  13. MAK
    April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    thanks.IT worked for me

  14. Wouter11234
    March 1, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Thanks! It works :D

  15. RH
    February 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I have deleted that partition and then reboot. Then, the screen to select among different OS (Ubuntu, WindowsXP) did not come and my PC automatically booted with XP(as it boots when WindowsXP is the only OS)!! No problem came. Though I did not do that thing(fixmbr....). Now I am working in XP. Has Ubuntu been fully uninstalled??

    • Remmy700P
      January 26, 2015 at 3:39 am

      No. GRUB is still installed in place of the Windows bootloader.

  16. Jesse
    February 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Ubuntu gets more difficult to manage for noobs as it ages. It should be the other way around. I can't even get 9.10 to do dial up much less use my aircard. I'm over it.

    Jesse

  17. MP
    February 7, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I tried the instructions offered. However, they did not work as expected. I deleted the partition with Ubuntu, but when I restarted the laptop (HP Pavilion 9700 with XP home SP2) with the recovery DVD, it immediately re-formatted my hard drive and is doing a clean installation of XP.... Oh well, I don't care about the data lost, but it's a real pain to bring the computer up to date. This was not a good way to uninstall Ubuntu and leave the XP alone....

  18. Jesse
    February 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    This didn't work for me... at least it didn't take care of the grub problem. Ubuntu still shows up. This is a problem because there is nothing there and if I try to reinstall ubuntu it will not allow me to boot in to xp.

    • jymm
      March 30, 2017 at 11:16 am

      There are always things that can go wrong when doing these kinds of processes. That is why the first step in his tutorial is "back up".

  19. Jim
    January 5, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Hi all,

    I have windows 7 instead of Vista, will the process be the same as listed here?
    I have the installation disc from MS. Please let me know, if true, then, I will try it.

  20. qasrani
    December 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Hi there,
    After trying to find a solution about what I am supposed to do in following situation:
    I have Acer Aspire 5315 laptop with pre-installed windows Vista Basic. I put Ubuntu on its top. All went messed up if I talk about booting. System restoring to factory default, ubuntu and windows booting, all comes on one screen. I have already once restored my system to factory defaults but as I do not have a windows CD or DVD seperatly (I got hard drive as recovery media), I was lost.

    I went to boot options by pressing F8 and there I choose system recovery. In system recovery, I went to command prompt and get
    bootrec/fixmbr
    done but
    bootrec/fixboot
    did not worked. At least now there is no more option for operating system installations but still I can not figure out anything how to remove Ubuntu from system. Any help I can get from here?

    Summery: I want to restore my laptop to factory defaults. I do not have any CD or DVD for windows recovery but I have a hard drive partition for the purpose. Ubuntu mixed up my partitions so restoring the factory default does not work.

  21. cookielover
    October 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I did this once differently. I couldn't find my Windows setup CD, so I went and got this software called MBRfix (sysint.no/nedlasting/mbrfix.htm) to restore the MBR. When I restarted, I automatically booted into Windows. THEN I deleted my Ubuntu partition.

    And then I reinstalled it. ;)

  22. dp
    October 25, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Kernel schmernel. This is a helpful explanation of how to get Ubuntu off my laptop.

    • Ant
      October 28, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      It certainly is. Thanks, Varun! If I'd had help as good as this when I was installing Ubuntu, maybe I wouldn't now need help UNinstalling it...

  23. Noah
    October 24, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Correction - Linux is a kernel which lots of great OS's use. Please correct your error. I don't want to have to re-inform the masses.

    • Albert
      October 25, 2009 at 12:31 am

      Linux IS an operating system. If you are unclear on this point I suggest you talk to RedHat, Ubuntu, or even Microsoft. They will explain it to you. Don't Let Stallman or his minions confuse you. Without the Linux "kernel" their is no Linux operating system. This myth of GNU/Linux is just that, a myth! Their was never, and will never be a GNU operating system. The Linux kernel is what makes linux, Linux!

      • Noah
        October 25, 2009 at 5:46 am

        No, it's not a operating system. Those which believe so are wrong. Ubuntu and Redhat USE the Linux KERNEL, but they are NOT Linux. They are simply based upon it.

        • MP
          February 7, 2010 at 8:17 pm

          Ubuntu is an operating system.