After months of happily using Windows and Ubuntu on the same computer, a Windows update was released and disaster struck!
Windows Update has made your Linux partition unreadable. No boot selection screen is displayed. After investigation, the Linux partition seems to have been deleted. Here’s how to fix things and make sure this never happens again.
Windows updates do not take care of Linux
Dual booting Windows and Ubuntu (or any other Linux distribution) gives you the best of both worlds. But there’s also the worst.
When Microsoft issues an update for Windows 10, the operating system and software beyond the Windows partition is largely unaffected (with some exceptions, such as UEFI and the recovery partition).
Linux partitions use the EXT4 file system, unlike NTFS. Windows only deals with the latter, so data stored in EXT4-formatted partitions is likely to be ignored. Not in a good way.
This leads to partitions being removed or even overwritten by the Windows update process.
Lost partitions can usually be handled. Meanwhile, overwritten data is much harder to handle. What can you do about it?
First try to recover the partition
If your Linux data is lost, you need to find out if it can be recovered. Various Linux recovery tools The best ways to recover data on Linux The best ways to recover data on Linux Whether you were at fault or not, the data stored on your devices can happen. Hard drives, solid-state drives, and removable media can potentially “lose” data due to the numerous… Read More files. This is ideal for browsing the hard drive for data.
However, make sure you have enough disk space for recovery. The data must be recovered to an external drive or to another partition that exists before the data is deleted.
It may even be possible to recover the entire missing Linux partition. In this case, you will need to repair the boot loader. Our guide to fixing a Linux PC when it can’t boot How to fix an Ubuntu Linux PC when it can’t boot How to fix an Ubuntu Linux PC when it can’t boot Sadly, as reliable as Linux sometimes is it runs into problems when booting. In most cases, you can work around this. Read on for how to do this.
In some cases, however, recovery and repair is not possible. You will be stuck without your Linux data, some of which may have been essential. In fact, Linux could be your primary operating system, with Windows as its successor, just a guest on your computer.
How to prevent Windows updates when deleting Linux.
Therefore, the chances of recovering a destroyed Linux partition with Windows 10 are minimal. What can you do about it?
1. perform regular data backups
Nowadays, no one should run a computer without having at least one backup copy of their vital data.
Personal data can be easily backed up to the cloud or to a local device. This can be an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. However, for the best basic backup, you should both manage personal data in the cloud and perform regular local backups. Check out our roundup of Linux cloud solutions. 10 Cloud Solutions You Should Use on Linux 10 Cloud Solutions You Should Use on Linux Some mainstream cloud storage options don’t offer a decent Linux client. But you’re out of luck. Many popular services work on Linux. You can even launch your own cloud solution! Read more to find compatible services.
Advanced backup options are also available. It is possible to back up the entire hard disk to another drive. Although disk backup tools are available for Windows, Linux has a full disk cloning utility. 4 Methods to Clone Your Linux Hard Drive 4 Methods to Clone Your Linux Hard Drive Do you need to clone your Linux hard drive or a partition? You can use the built-in dd tool or several alternatives to copy your hard drive for straightforward recovery later. Read more . You create complete copies of your hard disk drives and back up the data to an external or the same or a larger drive.
You can also use such tools to copy specific blocks of data. for example, only the operating system and personal data.
2. install operating systems on separate hard drives
A sure way to avoid losing Ubuntu thanks to Windows Update is to use two separate drives.
Many people rely on a single hard drive that is divided into several partitions. One of them is used for Windows 10, and the other is reserved for Linux.
So many problems occur when Windows Update messes up Linux. Windows 10 needs the extra space for the update, so the EXT4 partition is deleted, reformatted, and the occupied space is used.
However, if you use separate physical drives, this will not happen. The process of dual booting Windows and Ubuntu remains the same, but with one difference: you just need to make sure that Linux is installed on the second hard drive.
For this to work, you need to make sure that your PC has separate physical drives. If it doesn’t, see our tips for installing a second hard drive. 5 Important Tips for Installing a SATA Hard Drive 5 Important Tips for Installing a SATA Hard Drive Before you install a SATA hard drive, here are some points to consider so you don’t mess anything up. Read more .
3. run Windows or Linux in a virtual machine
Playing around with two boots and extra hard drives can be as painful as trying to recover lost data. You may prefer a simpler solution that doesn’t require an extra drive.
Virtualization lets you create a virtual machine (a software version of your computer’s physical hardware) and install an operating system in it. Windows 10 runs well on a virtual machine (VM), as do Ubuntu and other versions of Linux.
How you do it depends on which operating system you use daily and which you switch to occasionally.
If you want to install Windows in a Linux virtual machine To set up a Windows virtual machine on Linux To set up a Windows virtual machine on Linux Many home users prefer to run a dual-boot setup when both Windows and Linux are required However, if you prefer to run Windows on Linux, you can set it up as follows. Read more, you can. Similarly, it is also possible to set up a Linux virtual machine in Windows. 10 Installing Linux in Windows with a VMware Virtual Machine Installing Linux in Windows with a VMware Virtual Machine Want to install Linux but not leave Windows? Use a virtual machine to run your favorite Linux version on Windows. We’ll show you how to set up VMware Workstation Player. Read more . Both options prevent Windows Update from deleting Linux.
4. Boot Linux or Windows from a USB drive
Didn’t bother to physically install your alternative operating system? Insufficient resources for a virtual machine? Don’t worry. You can boot a portable version of your favorite operating system from a USB drive.
With a portable Linux operating system that you can load from external media on demand, Windows Update can’t cause any problems.
This may be the best way to run Linux from a USB drive that is running Linux from USB: Are you doing it right? Booting Linux from a USB drive: are you doing it right? Did you know that data can be permanently stored on a USB drive or even perform a full installation for Linux? Take the computer completely mobile – put a Linux USB PC in your pocket! Read more as this is more reliable. There is a tool called Windows To Go that creates a portable version of Windows. How to create a portable USB drive Windows To Go How to create a portable USB drive Windows To Go Carry Windows in your pocket with Windows To Go. We’ll show you how to run Windows from a USB drive like a portable app. Read more However, this is currently limited to Enterprise editions of Windows. That means if you’re running Windows 10 Home, Windows To Go won’t work for most users.
Don’t let Windows Update break Linux!
Windows was not designed for Linux. The fact that it does reasonably well is due to the efforts of its designers.
Losing data on Linux due to a Windows update is frustrating. Windows is often just tolerated and left on a computer as an option for certain apps. It may even be a condition of employment that Windows is used.
In any case, remember that you can avoid losing Windows Update on your Linux partition. Take precautions:
- Make regular backups
- Install each operating system on its own physical hard disk
- Running a secondary OS in a virtual machine
- Boot secondary OS from USB drive
If you need to use Linux alongside Windows 10 and can’t do any of the above, you run the risk of losing your Linux partition. At the very least, take the time to delay your Windows updates. How to (not) update to the latest Windows 10 version. Here’s how to (not) update to the latest Windows 10 version. The Windows 10, October 2018 update will be available soon. Whether you want to upgrade to the latest feature now or wait, we’ll show you how. Read more until you can make arrangements.