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robertsd0714 10-21-2011 11:10 PM

Ubuntu on an External Hard Drive
Ok so I'm new to Linux (obviously) and I have a quick question. I bought a 2 TB external hard drive and got it today. I was curious if I would be able to maybe, install an OS on it and boot from it, which upon research, if my external hard drive is boot-able, I can. I have the .iso file for Ubuntu 11.10 and linux pen-drive installer, but it says its going to overwrite the MBR, which I kind of expected. But what I want to know is if I don't like linux and want to get rid of it, can I get the old MBR back? Or will this totally screw up my external hard drive to the point where i can't use it to store my data?

countach74 10-22-2011 01:36 AM

There is a way to get the old MBR back... I am not much of a Windows user, so I can't tell you how, but if you do some googling for "restoring Windows boot loader," I'm sure it'll pop right up. The MBR is only used to boot off the drive. If you're not planning on booting off of it, the MBR won't make a difference. You can use it as a normal drive to store data even with a Linux boot loader in the MBR. However, you will likely have to reformat the drive to FAT or NTFS for Windows to be able to do anything with it.

thezerodragon 10-22-2011 02:01 AM


There is a way to get the old MBR back...
The Win7 system restore disk lets you do this easily from (gasp!) the command line. From the command line in the Win7 system restore disk environment, you run

bootrec.exe /fixmbr
and restore the Windows MBR. However, as Countach74 mentioned, if this is an external HDD as opposed to a Windows boot disk, it pretty much doesn't matter.

robertsd0714 10-22-2011 10:18 PM

Alrighty. Thank ya, thank ya. I kinda had a feeling it wouldn't matter, but I just wanted to be safe. I didn't want to screw up my 2 TB external hard drive and waste $107 ya know. Thank you ^-^

sgosnell 10-22-2011 10:22 PM

I would recommend partitioning the drive to give a Linux partition of a reasonable size and keeping most of the drive in a large partition still formatted as ntfs. You can use that partition to store your data, and both Windows and Linux can access it.

Wow, 2,000 gigabytes for $107. I can remember when drives of a few megabytes cost more than that, and that was in much-less-inflated dollars.

robertsd0714 10-22-2011 10:33 PM

Thanks for the advice you three! I'll be sure to keep all that you've said in mind. And yea. I was quite shocked when I saw that price on Honestly, I saw that deal and I couldn't pass it up. I have more storage than I know what to do with but, hey, better than not having enough right?

sgosnell 10-23-2011 12:13 AM

Software is a gas. It always expands to fill its container, so you won't have excess storage for long.

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