There are a few methods you can use to remove Windows from a hard drive without formatting on Reddit. The main options are using a bootable USB drive to erase Windows, overwriting the drive with zeroes, or using third party partition manager software.
Formatting is the quickest way to wipe a drive, but it will erase all data. If you need to remove just Windows while keeping other data intact, formatting isn’t ideal. The methods covered below allow removing just Windows while preserving data in other partitions.
Before starting, make sure you have the following:
- Backup of any data you want to keep. Removing the OS can potentially lead to data loss.
- Bootable USB drive for OS like Linux Mint or Ubuntu.
- Patience. Erasing or overwriting an entire OS partition takes time.
You’ll also need to identify the drive and partition where Windows is installed. This is critical to avoid accidentally wiping the wrong partition.
Using A Linux USB
One of the most popular recommendations on Reddit is to use a bootable Linux USB drive. This allows accessing the drive partitions and erasing just the Windows system partition.
Here are the steps:
- Download an Linux ISO like Mint or Ubuntu and create a bootable USB drive.
- Boot the target computer from the Linux USB drive.
- Use the Linux partition manager to identify the Windows partition. Be very careful to choose the correct one.
- Delete the Windows partition. This will remove Windows without touching other partitions.
- Shut down, remove the Linux USB, and restart to verify Windows is gone.
The main advantage of this method is selectivity. You can delete just the Windows partition without losing data elsewhere on the drive.
It also lets you reuse the freed up space for a new Windows installation later if desired.
- Learning curve using the Linux partition manager if you aren’t familiar with Linux.
- Potential to delete the wrong partition if not carefully identified.
- Need for spare USB and ability to boot from USB on the target computer.
Overall, using a bootable Linux USB drive is a popular selective method to remove Windows recommended on Reddit.
Overwrite With Zeroes
Another approach is overwriting the Windows partition or entire drive with zeroes. This writes zeros over the raw partition or disk to fully replace old data.
Here are the steps:
- Identify the Windows partition or entire drive to wipe.
- Boot to a Linux USB drive.
- Use a command like ‘dd’ to overwrite the partition or drive with zeros. For example:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX bs=4M status=progress
Replace ‘sdX’ with the actual drive or partition path.
- Let the command run until complete. This can take hours for large drives.
- Shut down and restart when finished to verify Windows is removed.
This approach overwrites all old data with zeros at a low level. It doesn’t give the selectivity of deleting a single partition, but is thorough.
- Overwrites the entire partition or disk indiscriminately.
- Can take a long time to run depending on drive size.
- Requires Linux USB boot and command line skills.
While more advanced, using ‘dd’ or a similar command to overwrite a drive can thoroughly remove Windows down to the raw disk sectors.
Use Partition Manager Software
A third option suggested on Reddit is to use third party partition manager software. Examples include:
- GParted – Free open source partition editor for Windows and Linux.
- MiniTool Partition Wizard – Commercial Windows based partition manager.
- AOMEI Partition Assistant – Commercial partition manager for Windows.
Here is the general process with such software:
- Download and install the partition manager on a separate drive from the one with Windows.
- Run the manager and identify the Windows partition.
- Delete the Windows partition. The software makes this simple in a GUI interface.
- Click apply and allow the changes to process. Reboot when finished.
Compared to the Linux methods, using a dedicated partition manager can provide an easier GUI workflow for selective partition removal.
- Need to backup data and install partition manager on separate drive.
- Paid options cost money, although open source tools like GParted are free.
- Command line tools in Linux give more low-level control.
Partition manager software provides an interface optimized for drive management. While convenient, the Linux command line tools offer more technical options.
Ensure Proper Partition Deletion
Whichever method you use, ensuring the correct partition containing Windows is properly deleted is crucial. Accidentally removing the wrong partition can lead to massive data loss.
Double and triple check the identified partition before deleting or overwriting. The extra care is worth avoiding potential mistakes.
Having a complete backup is also strongly advised for data recovery as a last resort if something goes wrong during the Windows removal process.
What Next After Removing Windows?
Once Windows is successfully removed from the hard drive without formatting, you have a few options:
- Leave the freed partition space for storage.
- Install a new OS like Linux or new Windows version.
- Add the space to an existing partition with a partition manager.
The choice depends on your goals after removing Windows. The important thing is the selective OS removal process leaves those options open.
While formatting is quicker, removing Windows selectively without formatting has advantages like preserving data.
Popular selective removal methods recommended on Reddit include:
- Booting Linux and deleting the Windows partition
- Using ‘dd’ on Linux to overwrite the Windows partition or drive
- Leveraging partition manager software like GParted
The key considerations are properly identifying the correct partition, having backups, and taking time to perform the process carefully.
Choosing the optimal method for your circumstances allows cleanly removing just Windows while keeping your data intact.
Linux Partition Delete Method
|Selectively deletes just Windows partition||Learning curve if unfamiliar with Linux|
|Leaves freed space for new OS or storage||Risk of deleting wrong partition|
|Simple deletion of single partition||Requires spare USB and ability to boot from it|
Linux ‘dd’ Overwrite Method
|Overwrites entire partition or disk thoroughly||No selectivity – affects entire partition or disk|
|Removes at low level for complete Windows erasure||Very slow on large drives|
|Bypasses any filesystem corruption issues||Requires Linux command line knowledge|
Partition Manager Software Method
|Easy to use GUI interface||Paid options have cost|
|Convenient features for partition management||Less control than Linux tools|
|Allows selective OS partition removal||Risk of improper partition selection|