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How to install two operating systems

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How to install two operating systems: Would you like to install two operating systems on your PC but are you afraid of combining disasters? Do not worry. Although many think it is an operation reserved for IT experts, I can assure you that installing two different operating systems on a computer (eg Windows 10 and Windows 8.x, or Windows 10 and Ubuntu) is a relatively simple. The important thing is to create partitions on the disk that we have measures suitable for the operating systems to be installed and correctly configure the boot loader.

The boot loader, if I have never heard of it, is the software that provides instructions on what must be loaded during the boot phase of the computer, ie the operating system. Now, however, let’s not get too talked about and find out, together,  how to install two operating systems on the same PC. I assure you that this is a much less complex operation than you imagine.

Whether you want to install two copies of Windows on your computer, a copy of Windows combined with a Linux distro or a copy of Windows and a copy of macOS (in case you have a Mac), below you will find all the answers to your questions. I wish you a good read and a lot of fun!

Preliminary operations

  • Backing up data – to install multiple operating systems on the same computer, you need to change the disk partitions. This operation is safe and does not necessarily involve data loss, however before starting, I strongly recommend that you make a backup of all your files and copy them to an external drive (e.g. a portable hard disk or a USB stick).
  • BIOS / UEFI setup – if your PC is recent enough and uses UEFI instead of the old BIOS, you may need to adjust some settings of the latter before moving on to installing a new operating system. For example, to install a version of Windows prior to 8 or a Linux distro, you should be able to disable Secure Boot (a function that prevents the start of operating systems without a specific digital signature) and / or enable Legacy BIOS  mode (which emulates the old BIOS). Also, regardless of using UEFI or BIOS, you may need to change the order of boot devices by giving precedence to the CD / DVD drive or USB ports. Did you not understand much? Don’t worry, you will find everything explained in much more detail in my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS / UEFI .

Change the disk partitions

Ready to get down to business? Perfect, let’s get started! As just mentioned, the first step you need to take to  install two operating systems on the same PC is to divide the hard disk (mechanical or SSD that is) by creating a partition capable of hosting the second operating system you want to install on the latter. To help you with this task, you can use the excellent free MiniTool Partition Wizard Home program . Therefore connected to its official website click on the Local download button   located next to the wording  Free edition  to download it to your PC.

Download is complete open, double clicking on it, the software installation package (e.g.  pwfree91.exe ) and click first on  Yes  and then on  Next  five consecutive times,  Install  and  Finish  to complete the setup.

How to install two operating systems

Now you can start MiniTool Partition Wizard Home by double clicking on its icon on the Windows desktop and pressing the Launch application button on its home screen. When the operation is complete, you are ready to go!

To create a new partition on the hard disk, you must first shrink the main partition of the system and remove from it the space to be used for the new operating system to be installed. Then select the item related to the system partition (eg C 🙂 from the main window of MiniTool Partition Wizard Home and click on the Move / Resize button on the program toolbar to start the resizing procedure of the selected partition.

MiniTool Partition Wizard Home

In the window that opens, use the Partition size text field to specify the new dimensions to be assigned to the system partition (i.e. the current value minus the one you want to use in the partition on which to install the new operating system) and click on OK first and then on Apply (top left) and Yes to apply the changes. If you are asked to restart the system, accept and wait for the partition to be automatically resized when the PC is turned on again.

As for the dimensions to be assigned to the new partition (and therefore to be subtracted from the system one), use these minimum reference values.

  • 25-30 GB for Windows 10, Windows 8.x, Windows 7 and Vista.
  • 15-20 GB for Windows XP and Ubuntu (in the latter case, you will also need to create an additional swap partition as large as the RAM installed on your PC).

How to install two operating systems

Once Windows has restarted, open MiniTool Partition Wizard Home again using its icon on the desktop and, in the window that opens, select the unallocated space obtained by resizing the system partition ( * 🙂 by right clicking.

Then click on the Create item  in the menu that appears and, in the window that opens, type the name you want to assign to the partition in the Partition Label field and click first on OK and then on Apply (top left) and Yes to create the partition on which to install your second operating system. Leave the File System field on NTFS if you want to install Windows or set it on EXT4  if you want to install Linux.

How to install two operating systems

Note: if you use a recent version of Windows (from Vista onwards), you can also partition the disk using the Disk Management utility present “standard” in the operating system. I explained how to do it in my guide on how to partition the hard disk , however I recommend you to use MiniTool Partition Wizard Home anyway which seems a bit more intuitive to me.

Also, you should know that Ubuntu includes a partition management tool that allows you to flank Linux with Windows without partitioning the disk in advance. I told you about it in great detail in my tutorial on how to install Ubuntu from USB .

How to install the second operating system

Once the partition is created, all you have to do is install your second operating system on your PC. First, however, if you have not already done so, procure or create the supports for the installation of the latter. Here are some tutorials that may come in handy in this regard.

  • How to download Windows 10 – in which I explained how to download Windows 10 and how to create a DVD or USB stick for the installation of the latter.
  • How to download Windows 8  – in which I explained how to download Windows 8.x and how to create an installation media for the latter.
  • How to download Windows 7 – inside which you will find how to download Windows 7 and how to create an installation support for this version of the Microsoft operating system.
  • How to download Windows XP and how to install XP from USB – in these two tutorials I have explained how to download Windows XP and how to copy it to a USB stick.
  • How to install Ubuntu USB – in this guide I explained how to download Ubuntu, how to copy it to a USB stick and how to install it on the PC.

How to install two operating systems

Once you get the operating system to install on your PC, you can take action! Then insert the diskette or USB stick for the installation of the operating system in the computer, boot from the latter and follow the wizard for installing Windows or Linux by selecting the disk partition you created as the destination drive previously. Below are some of my tutorials specifically dedicated to the installation of the various operating systems.

How to install two operating systems

Configure the boot loader

When the installation of the new operating system is completed, you will certainly have discovered how to install two operating systems on the same PC , but you may be faced with some problems with the boot loader . For example, if you have installed a version of Windows older than the one you already had (e.g. Windows 7 after Windows 10 or Windows 8.x), the latter will automatically start when the PC is turned on, not allowing you to choose which system operating start from time to time.

To overcome this problem, you can use the EasyBCD program   (free in its basic version) which rebuilds the boot loader allowing you to add to it the items related to all the operating systems installed on the PC. Then connect to  this Web page , click on the Register button , type your name and your e-mail address in the form that is proposed to you and press the Download  button  to download EasyBCD on your PC.

Download is complete open, double clicking on it, the file you just downloaded (eg  EasyBCD xx.exe ) and, in the window that opens, click first on Yes and then on  Next , I Agree , again  Next , Install and Finish to complete the installation process and start EasyBCD.

How to install two operating systems

In the window that opens, select the Italian language from the menu for choosing the language and click Go and  OK to access the main EasyBCD screen .

At this point, click on the Add new item button located in the left sidebar, select the operating system to be added to the boot loader (eg Windows Vista / 7/8/10 ) and click on the Add item button  to confirm the ‘operation.

How to install two operating systems

When the operation is complete, click on the Change boot menu button   located in the left sidebar, select the operating system to be used as the default choice in the boot loader and press the Save settings  button  to save the changes.

How to install two operating systems

Perfect! Now all you have to do is restart your PC and test the new boot loader, which will allow you to choose the operating system to boot each time the computer is turned on.

How to install two operating systems

How to install two operating systems on a Mac

If you use a Mac and want to create a dual-boot system with Windows and macOS, you can rely on  Boot Camp .

If you have never heard of it, Boot Camp is a function included in macOS that allows you to install Windows on a partition of the Mac and choose each time you turn on the computer which operating system to start. It is very convenient and automatically provides all the drivers necessary for Windows to work on your Mac.

How to install two operating systems

To use Boot Camp you only need enough free disk space and a Windows installation media. Disk partitioning and driver download occurs automatically during the initial Boot Camp configuration procedure.

If you want to know more about the whole procedure, open Boot Camp Assistant on your Mac and use it following the instructions I gave you in my tutorial on how to install Windows on Mac .