How to uninstall Linux from a Dual-Boot Windows 7/Vista Netbook using Startup Repair

OK, so, you’ve tried a Linux distro for netbooks (like Ubuntu) and you’ve decided, “Hey, I don’t like this.” I’ve been there, too.

But now, whenever you boot, you get an annoying GRUB menu asking you to select what OS you want to boot into, and you have to scramble to switch to Windows 7. Plus, you’ve got a swath of disk space you can’t use anymore because the Linux distro you don’t want any more is using it. Most people would advise using a Windows repair disk, which isn’t really helpful on a netbook. (But if your netbook runs Windows XP, you’re going to have to make a Windows XP USB boot disk or boot from your vendor’s recovery partition either from the BIOS menu or from an entry in GRUB; the manufacturer’s manual will tell you how to do that).

The good news is if you run Windows Vista (unlikely, as it wasn’t shipped with many netbooks) or Windows 7 (much more likely), you can uninstall Linux from your netbook without a repair CD. To do so, boot your netbook and select the Windows 7/Vista entry. As soon as you do this, start hitting the F8 key until you reach a startup options menu. From that menu, choose “Startup Repair” (normally the first option). Windows setup will then load, ask you to select your language, and, if you have a password-protected account, ask you to log in with that account. From there, select “Command Prompt” and in the prompt run the following:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr

The system should respond with “The operation completed successfully.” Close the command prompt and choose the “Restart” button to continue. At this point, your netbook should boot directly into Windows 7 without GRUB appearing at all. Once Windows has started, right click Computer in the Start menu and choose “Manage.” You’ll need to “Allow” this if UAC is enabled. From the left side of the window that appears, choose “Disk Management” under “Storage.”

At this point, you should see all of your drives listed, as well as the one or two primary partitions, without any label or file system information. You can now delete these to recover the hard-drive space from your Linux installation. DON’T delete any entry marked "recovery partition," however; these are restore tools provide by your vendor to allow you to reinstall Windows if necessary — you want them around. Once you’ve deleted the Linux partitions, you’ll see a healthy chunk of free space on your drive. You can select the NTFS partition nearest this block from the free space, right click it, and choose “Extend volume” to add this free space to your volume.

That’s it! Linux is now totally removed from your netbook.

Addition 1: Windows won’t let me use “Extend volume” after deleting Linux

This can occur in a number of situations, including having the free space to the left of the partition to extend or if Windows has decided to store system files at the end of the partition. If this happens, you have two choices.

Your first choice is to make a new drive in the empty space and assign it a new drive letter. This will make the additional space appear as a second drive in "Computer," and you can use it that way (although it won’t give you additional space in your primary partition).

If your heart is set on expanding your primary partition, your best bet is to use GParted, humorously enough, from whatever USB drive you used to installed Linux in the first place. Use the “Try” or “LiveCD” option of the distro, open a terminal, and run "sudo gparted."

Select your main drive from the top-right drop-down menu. This will let you expand the main partition as you see fit. (Don’t delete any partitions from here). Once you’re done, you can save the changes to the drive and restart. Chkdsk will probably run the first time Windows starts; this is normal and doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your drive.

See also: Using GParted to Resize Your Windows 7 or Vista Partition (How-to Geek)

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38 Comments

  • Chris
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm 0Likes

    Waw thank you SO SO SO much! Ive spent hours trying to find away to do this on my netbook and this was exactly what I needed!
    Works totally fine and no more stupid grub!
    I didnt close the command prompt after it accepted the bootrec.exe thing,, i just clicked restart but it didnt matter =]
    Again thank you so much!

  • sachin
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 5:56 am 0Likes

    wow its supop, it worked nicely, i recommend this to everyone, nodoubt..i have successfully remove linux without affecting window7 in my dell vostro 3550, thank u.. I m so so happy

  • frustratedUser
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm 0Likes

    I have tried this many times…. it isn’t working, it always reboots to the GRUB menu… uggg anyone have anymore suggestions?

    • Robin Monks
      Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm 0Likes

      Check the instructions again and make sure that you are using an actual dual-boot Linux install and not using the Wubi (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/windows-installer) method; which has it’s own uninstalled inside windows listed under add/remove programs in the Control Panel.

      • Tommy B
        Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm 0Likes

        Great tip, Robin – many thanks.

    • Max Payne
      Posted July 3, 2012 at 12:34 am 0Likes

      Are u sure you got the message (the operation completed successfully) ??

  • Max Payne
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 12:32 am 0Likes

    Thank you very much for your clear explination i really appreciate it

  • cory
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm 0Likes

    ive got a problem when i use testdisk it says i have 750 all together, and I do. when i boot windows i can only find my windows disks and nothing extra from the deleted linux.

    • Robin Monks
      Posted August 28, 2012 at 9:39 pm 0Likes

      Hey!

      So, you don’t see the extra space in the disk management dialog? There’s a few possible reasons for that; before I get into the more unlikely it’s possible the window for some reason isn’t big enough to show the free space on the volume, so right click on the partition and see if the extend option is available anyways.
      If it isn’t, possibilities become weirder — one of the scarier ones being you have a rootkit that has placed your windows system in a transparent virtual machine (make sure to have a recent anti-virus installed and updated, obviously).
      You can try to use a tool such as Parted Magic instead of the windows disk manager. There is a larger, although still minor chance of data loss with this method so backups of important documents should be taken. Go to http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ and download the tool; then grab an empty USB flash drive and start unetbootin and choose “Parted Magic” as the distribution, the drive letter for your flash drive, and make a bootable disk. From there you’ll need to reboot your PC and allow parted magic to boot (if it boots straight into Windows again, enter your system BIOS to make sure the USB drive has boot priority, this varies from pc to pc and more detailed instructions can be found by searching for your computer or motherboard model on Google).
      You can then use GParted from within Parted Magic to extend your system partition to the remainder of the disk. After applying the change and reboot windows should scan the disk for errors and boot into the new, larger, system disk.

  • abhi
    Posted October 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm 0Likes

    very easy, works perfectly………..a BIG THANKS

  • Jeremy
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 2:02 am 0Likes

    Thank you so much, this worked flawlessly. I downloaded the live CD of GParted but had no problems. THANK YOU!!

  • Erica Cormey
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Man. But i can’t seem to create a new volume on that partition any more. I use the new volume creation wizard and it always says “You do not have enough sapce” on finish

    • Robin Monks
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm 0Likes

      In that case you’ll need to make a bootable USB key and use GParted to fully extend the partition. Windows’ own tools aren’t always able to extend that partition in every circumstance. There’re also a few other Windows-based partition tools that can run from within Windows such as the MiniTool partition wizard, but I haven’t tested them. There’s a good list of the 5 top partition tools (Windows and Linux based) along with reviews over here: http://www.top5freeware.com/top-5-free-disk-partition-software-for-windows

      • Erica Cormey
        Posted November 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm 0Likes

        I used a tool “EaseUS” and it worked perfectly. Installed it, and just created a new volume. Making the USB bootable and using gparted was getting quite tedious. Thanks a lot guys.

  • Hevad
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 2:35 am 0Likes

    Great write up.
    I tried, but did not work on my HP computer with Ubuntu and Grub.
    I selected the Win7 and hit F8, but the response issued a request for a StartUp CD. Which I don’t have. I have just the recovery CDs.
    Instructions say to contact Sys Admin or manufacturer.
    If I continue I get the usual Win7 start up.

    Do you have any idea of a work around for this?
    thanks, Hevad.

  • Brian
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm 0Likes

    Hello, First off thank you for this guide

    Unfortunately after restarting my computer, I recieve the error message, ” Error: no such partition
    grub rescue> ”
    I’m not quite sure what I messed up, as I had THOUGHT I was following the directions exactly, but it seems that I did not. =/
    I’m wondering if I forgot to “extend Volume” after removing the partitions.
    Is there a way that I can fix this?

    • Robin Monks
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm 0Likes

      At this point your options are somewhat limited. You’ll need to boot to a windows rescue USB key (or a CD if you have a CD drive). You can follow the instructions here from a working PC to do that:

      http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/how-to-create-a-windows-rescue-usb-stick-984726

      Once that’s done, you will need to boot from the USB key and then run startup repair three times. (Boot from USB, run start-up repair completely, reboot into USB, run startup repair completely, reboot into USB, run startup repair completely, remove USB and boot normally).

      You’ll need to run start-up repair three times because Windows is programmed with three possible solutions to fix startup issues it will apply in order, running it three times ensures all three occur.

      /Robin

  • Niels
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 10:12 am 0Likes

    Worked, Thanks 🙂

  • huoc
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm 0Likes

    thanks! thorough and precise instructions, worked perfectly!
    diskmgmt extend did not work for me (it was “to the left”, I used minitool partition wizard (free home version could do it with like two clicks)

  • gift
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 10:07 am 0Likes

    Thanx so much but to extend volume when I right click it was shrink volume that was enabled and don’t know what it used for. Anyway thanx.

  • Mike
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 8:07 pm 0Likes

    My Windows 7 Pro on HP Mobile Workstation only had Safe Mode with Command Prompt. I chose that and a command window came up. However, bootrec.exe does not exist in System32.

    • Mike
      Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:08 pm 0Likes

      Got it fixed. Thanks.

  • Jim
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm 0Likes

    I had to insert my Windows 7 upgrade cd to get to the startup repair options, but otherwise it worked great. Thank you!

  • A.S.
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm 0Likes

    Thanks so much for your article. Huge help.

    As a note (Specs: Acer Aspire One 722, Windows 7):
    After I went through the first steps, according to Windows Disk Management I had 75 GB of “Free Space” but I could not allocate extend my primary partition to include it.

    I booted into Linux and using the GNOME Utility Manager saw that there was a logical partition on top of the free space. Using this utility manager, I deleted the logical partition.

    When I booted back into Windows, the 75GB was now labelled as “Unallocated” and I was able to extend my primary partition easily.

    Thanks for your help!

  • Rath
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 8:51 pm 0Likes

    Thanks a lot. I got to do it smoothly thanks to you 🙂

    A first restart after hitting F8, GRUB is still appearing, so I repeat the stuff after F8 once again but it didn’t work
    so I try to turn off my laptop manually, and after that GRUB didn’t even appear anymore
    No idea but hey, that works, so I got that going for me, which is nice

    Thanks once again, keep up the good work!

  • Alex
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 9:53 am 0Likes

    Hi, unfortunately the GRUB page still appearing, although I’ve done all your steps.
    there is no error message. nothing, but somehow I still see GRUB page instead logging in directly to Windows
    please help, thanks

    • Robin Monks
      Posted February 27, 2014 at 8:31 pm 0Likes

      Do you know if the windows boot manager is loading first? I know it might be awkward, but, can you take a photo of the boot selection screen that appears?

      • Alex
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:21 am 0Likes

        Thanks for your reply, but I’ve already solved it by deleting Linux uption at EasyBCD application.
        Thanks 🙂

  • chris
    Posted April 26, 2014 at 11:04 am 0Likes

    THANKS!!!!!!!!

  • [email protected]itrose.com
    Posted June 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm 0Likes

    GMB – Brilliant – I made a recovery disk (Win7) Booted from it – applied instructions above – Done! After a lot of messing about with other instructions this is it. Great! Thanks

  • fll
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 7:42 pm 0Likes

    Great, it worked perfectly. Thanks

  • Raheel Shahzad
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:15 am 0Likes

    I was using dual boot on my windows 7 and I had partition C:(windows), D:(linux), E:(Data drive). I thought of deleting linux so I go to disk management console and right click on D and delete this. This gave me an empty space so I extend my C drive with some space and remaining portion as a new D drive. But after doing this, my E drive is disabled. E is giving only delete volume option and I can’t access my data as It has no label and I’m unable to assign label. C and D drive are working fine. Please help me.

    • Robin Monks
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm 0Likes

      I’d recommend booting into GParted (see the instructions above) and mounting the drive there to make sure everything is OK, if it is, rebooting into Windows after should have Windows automatically re-detect the partition.

      • Raheel Shahzad
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:56 am 0Likes

        I have tried using gparted too but failed. I think that has corrupted my file system that’s why its showing me file system as ext4 and the file shown are viewable only because the actual files are of ntfs. Please tell me how I can fix that issue. I don’t wants to lose my data.

  • R Ellison
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:43 am 0Likes

    I succeeded in following instructions but the Dual Boot remained. Then, through Control panel I started to remove unwanted programs and in the list was Ububntu. I uninstalled that and the Dual boot was gone.

  • Jamal Lamghari
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 4:06 pm 0Likes

    Thank you MAN ! works like a charme in removing GRUB.
    I also had to resize my partitions with Gparted, to use the free space,
    Booting in Win7 did some checks but I confirm for Win7 + Ubunutu 10.4 Robin’s method works wonderfully.
    Thank you again

  • Tim_Skoglund
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 1:05 am 0Likes

    I just used your instructions to remove Ubuntu from my HP G60 running Vista. Your clear instructions worked like a charm. I think I’ll use Ubuntu on a trial basis… Feb. 22, 2017… Thanks, Robin!

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