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How to remove Ubuntu and restore Windows on a PC

Removing an Ubuntu installation from a dual-boot setup and restoring Windows is something that users looking to stop using Linux want to know. Sadly, not a lot of information is out there for new users, and as a result, many that try to delete Ubuntu from a Windows/Linux dual-booting setup often break their computers.

In this guide, we’ll go over in-depth how to completely remove Ubuntu from your computer and restore the Windows boot manager. However, before we begin, please back up all critical data from your Windows partition to an external hard drive to prevent any data loss if an accident occurs. Be sure also to back up your data on your Ubuntu installation as well, as it will be deleted during this process.

Note: though this guide focuses on Windows 10, any recent release of Windows (7/8/8.1) works with the instructions in this guide, though the repair functions will differ.

Create Windows installation USB disk

Fixing a system so that it no longer loads up Ubuntu and only has Windows on it starts by creating a Windows installation disk, as the installation disk, in addition to coming with a fresh version of Windows, has some recovery utilities that we can use to remove Ubuntu.

To create a Windows installation disk on your Ubuntu partition, download a free copy of Windows 10 from Mircosoft, and follow this guide to learn how to create an installation disk. Or load into the Windows partition on your system, download Windows, and create your USB live disk with this app here.

When the disk is made, reboot your computer and load into the Windows installation system. You may need to access your BIOS settings to boot from USB.

Clear out the Grub bootloader

With the Windows installation USB disk created and ready to go, it’s time to take the first step in uninstalling Ubuntu Linux: clearing out the Grub bootloader screen that appears during a reboot.

To get rid of the boot screen through the Windows installation USB, you need to select the “Repair my computer” button, followed by “troubleshoot.”

Once you select the Troubleshoot option, you’ll be taken to a blue screen with a few tools to repair a non-working Windows 10 install. Look for the “Command-prompt” option, and select it with the mouse to access the command-line in Windows 10 for your PC.

Inside of the command prompt window in the Windows 10 installation disk, only one command needs to be run. This command will set the Windows boot manager as the default boot option on your computer.

bootrec /fixmbr

After running the bootrec command on the Windows 10 installation disk, type in the exit command to return to the repair selection screen. After that, reboot your PC, and unplug the USB, as it is no longer necessary to get rid of Ubuntu.

Delete Ubuntu partitions

Now that the bootloader for Ubuntu is removed as default on your computer, it’s time to delete Ubuntu from your hard drive. The way to do this is with a partition editor that comes with Windows 10. To access the Windows 10 partition editor, start by pressing the Win + S key on your keyboard. From there, type in “partition,” and a search result should appear that says “Create and format hard disk partitions”. Click on this search result to launch the Windows 10 partition editing tool.

Inside of the Windows 10 partition editor, you’ll notice quite a few partitions on the main hard drive. These partitions are labeled by “volume” in a descending list. Look through the list and determine which ones are related to Windows. Once you’ve figured out which ones are Windows’ volumes, write them down on a piece of paper to ensure that you don’t accidentally delete them.

Note: with UEFI, ignore any Fat32 partitions, as the bootrec command re-writes the Linux boot, so deletion isn’t necessary.

After taking note at the Windows-related partitions, find the Ubuntu-related once. These ones will have no drive label, or any other information, other than “healthy primary partition”.

Select the partition in the graphic layout with the mouse. Once you’ve made the selection, right-click on the partition to open up the right-click mouse menu. From there, look through the mouse-menu and choose the “Delete Volume” option.

As soon as you select the “Delete Volume” button, a message will appear that says “The selected partition was not created by Windows and might contain data recognized by other operating systems. Do you want to delete this partition?” Select the “Yes” option to remove the Ubuntu partition.

With the partition removed, right-click on the free-space that now occupies the old partition and create a new volume, extend the existing free space to Windows, etc. Then, reboot your PC.

As you log back into your Computer, you will boot directly into Windows, and Ubuntu Linux will be gone from the system!

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