Windows: Dual Boot Tutorial, Tips & Tools

Anyone who doesn’t want to stick to one product when it comes to a multi-faceted operating system (OS). There are different strategies for this, with individual advantages and disadvantages: first, a second computer is recommended. If you don’t have a machine or are afraid of the cost of buying a new one (even if it’s a very old Windows used machine like XP, Vista, or 7), you can use virtualization. Both newer and older operating systems run in one window. A program like VirtualBox uses a driver and partitions hardware resources; The default system does not work as fast as the installed operating system usually due to the lack of direct and exclusive access to the hardware; Depending on the number of parallel active virtual machines (VMs), several operating systems run in main memory (RAM). For this, however, VMs are free.

However, strictly speaking, a separate license is required for each Windows virtualization system. Dual booting is an alternative: as with VMs, you need additional storage space on your computer for each operating system. A Windows license is also required for each operating system for permanent system use. However, dual boot operating systems run exclusively in RAM; No two or more systems are active in parallel and throws off performance at runtime. Windows 11, for example, try it well with dual boot: you can experience its full speed on your individual machines, which is impossible with VMs.

What is a double shoe?

Dual boot describes the configuration of a computer in which two operating systems are installed on one partition each. This can be an identical operating system, such as Windows 10, but you can also mix different systems if you wish – eg because you rely on programs that require an older operating system. For setup, it is necessary to have enough free hard disk/SSD storage space. Boot from setup data medium (CD/DVD/stick) and install the appropriate operating system. Before doing that, select a partition where Windows is not already stored. After setting up the system, the boot manager appears in the form of a boot menu when the computer starts. This is also available in single boot configurations (only one operating system is available), but is not visible here. Up to Windows 7, the boot menu is similar to DOS and can be launched using the keyboard; Since Windows 8, it’s been graphical and you can choose which of your systems should start with a mouse and keyboard, and in the case of some laptops, even with a touch screen.

Dual boot vs multi boot

With Multi Boot, there are two operating systems on one computer at the same time, but there can also be more. If two or three operating systems are installed, this is also called multiboot. A double boot is always a multi-boot, but a multi-boot is not necessarily a dual boot. With Multi Boot, the boot manager introduces you to Windows 7, Windows 8.1 (confusingly shown as “Windows 8” in the boot menu), and Windows 10. Windows 11 is called “Windows 10” in the boot menu when you upgrade Windows 10 to 11 – for a fresh install via Windows 11 ISO setup stick, the boot manager designation is “Windows 11”.

View Disk Management – or use the widget section

Unlike Linux setup media, a Windows installer that booted from a DVD/stick is not able to shrink existing partitions. This can be done using the command line/CMD Diskpart utility, included with the setup DVD/stick. However, graphically, you cannot shrink the partition to create a new one. If you run Windows setup media for dual/multiboot installation, there must be a large enough partition or enough unpartitioned storage space on which you can create a new partition for the additional operating system.

Under no circumstances should you install Windows on the current system partition; Iron over option replaces the old Windows with a new one (new) – this does not result in a dual boot, but almost data loss, the old OS ends up in the windows.old folder, which is hard to delete and the containerized OS is restored using the command line. It’s easy if you don’t have an operating system on your computer yet: plan to set up several systems, create about three partitions in the Windows Installer partition interface and then install Windows. Then run the setup media for the other Windows versions you want and select one of the remaining empty partitions as the installation target.
If you want a dual/multiple boot environment with an operating system already installed, prepare as follows: Create under Windows via Disk Management (called with Win-R and diskmgmt.msc) Partition 20 GB approx. If there is not enough unpartitioned space for it, shrink the existing partition. Alternatively, you can enlarge an existing partition that is too small to dual boot. This does not always work: for example, if the Windows Defragmenter service is stopped and deactivated, diskmgmt.msc is not fully functional. Moreover, there are sometimes more shortcomings. Then use MiniTool Partition Wizard Free to partition. By the way, Linux can sometimes automatically shrink a Windows (8) partition and install itself on a newly created partition.
With dual boot, you interfere with partitioning, so it is recommended that you first backup the data. This varies with virtual machines, which have fewer risks. VHD files are in the middle: If you install Windows in a VHD image, the system entry is merged into the boot manager, as with a normal dual boot. Windows 7 does not boot from VHDs in the inexpensive Home Premium and Professional editions for licensing reasons, since Windows 8 this was already possible with the inexpensive OS version (Windows 8/8.1 Core and Windows 10 Home).
Dual boot: Windows 10 tutorial for many operating systems installed in Parallel Disk Cleanup is usually a reliable assistant regarding HDD/SSD partitioning.

Disk Cleanup is usually a reliable assistant for HDD/SSD partitioning.

Bootmanager vs Bootmenü

IT publications sometimes confuse a boot manager with a boot menu. Sometimes both are the same, but this does not apply to Windows (10). Windows XP used NTLDR (NT Loader) as the boot manager, which stands for the manager and the loader. Since Windows Vista, bootmgr has been used as the boot manager and Winload as the bootloader. If only one of the components is damaged, Windows will not start. XP users can tell a thing or two about it (error message: “NTLDR is missing”). Linux (Ubuntu) mostly uses GRUB as a boot manager. You can read about the relationship between these components in the article “Windows 7/8/10: What Happens When You Start Your Computer?” There you can find out, for example, the partition where the boot manager is stored – which varies depending on the operating system and whether you are running your computer in single or dual boot mode.

The Windows boot manager is usually located on a hidden partition marked as active without a drive letter. The linked article is for BIOS MBR environments; If you are using a computer with a modern UEFI BIOS, the UEFI system firmware takes on the role of a boot manager. Mixed MBR and GPT Windows partitioning system partitions on a single disk are not possible.

This is how partitioning works under Windows

This is how partitioning works under Windows

Dual Boot: Should You Pay Attention to the Windows Installation Sequence?

It is sometimes said that you must install an old Windows before a newer version so that the new system will recognize the old system and integrate it into its boot menu. This certainly makes sense, but it’s not static: a reverse install sequence is often possible as well. Details can be found in the article linked in the paragraph above. Dual/Multi-boot Tips: Rename your partitions in Explorer, then you will know, especially with multiboot, which partition houses the operating system. On the other hand, a partition is not necessary to exchange data: Windows does not access Ext Linux partitions, but Linux on Windows NTFS partitions and in between, get a multiboot Windows operating system to read and write to their NTFS drives.
Dual boot: Windows 10 tutorial for multiple operating systems installed in parallel.  This is what the classic Windows boot menu looked like before the era of Windows 8/10/11.  Here it offers Windows 7 and Windows 10 to boot.

This is what the classic Windows boot menu looked like before the era of Windows 8/10/11. Here it offers Windows 7 and Windows 10 to boot.

“standard operating system”

The Windows Boot Manager waits 30 seconds and lets you choose which system to boot. The operating system is defined as the “standard operating system” and then starts automatically. There are several guides for optimization: In MSconfig (press Win-R, msconfig Enter a different operating system standard if you want to load a specific operating system after turning on the computer (which is not currently the standard). By reducing 30 seconds to a lower value, you will boot faster; You can also bypass the counter by not waiting for it to finish, but manually selecting the system to start it with your mouse or keyboard. Pressing the Up or Down key will end the 30-second countdown and you have as much time as you want to decide which operating system to boot.

Backup a dual or multiple boot environment via image

Operating systems can be backed up and restored not only in the interaction of a single partition, but also in the most complex multiple operating environments. The author of the article prefers Ashampoo Backup 2021, with which he has repeatedly rebuilt a multiboot environment on a test machine to replenish the three empty operating systems Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 located in parallel. The USB stick acts as a bootable Win-PE emergency system for recovery; The backup image is on a USB hard drive.

Bootmanager-Editor “EasyBCD”

With the standard CMD tool Bcdedit, you can change the dual/multi-boot settings of Windows extensively. The onboard tools MSconfig and systemPropertiesAdvanced can also be used to adjust the initial settings (even graphically in each case). However, dealing with the command line commands required by Bcdedit is complicated. EasyBCD enforces a simple graphical interface above all. With EasyBCD, you can even merge an ISO file into the boot menu – without having to decompress it to a USB drive with the Rufus tool. This type of booting from ISOs is only possible with EasyBCD in BIOS/MBR computers, but not in UEFI BIOS/GPT environments.

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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