The topic of dual booting operating systems has been covered in a few ways on this site, but here is a primer to provide you with some important information before attempting any dual boot. More users today are becoming aware of how useful and practical the Linux operating system is, in all its shapes and sizes. If there is any dual-boot that you want to have, it would definitely be along the lines of Windows 7, 8, or Vista with Ubuntu, Fedora, or Debian Linux operating systems. Ubuntu seems to be the most popular and it is an excellent operating system, in this user’s opinion. All this being stated, before you dual boot any operating system, you absolutely must prepare yourself! This is not a how-to on dual booting Ubuntu and Windows; it is a warning that you should carefully study all of the ins and outs about the process before proceeding.
For example, when you are dual booting any Linux operating system such as Ubuntu, the very first thing that you need to be aware of is that the Linux Grub will overwrite your Master Boot Record (MBR). This will mean that you will be able to boot your new Linux operating system in a hard drive partition, but you will probably not be able to boot back into Windows thereafter.
Rather than spend a day pulling your hair out trying to look for a solution, find a good guide on dual booting Ubuntu with Windows before you get started. This is an Ubuntu guide on the topic that happens to be immensely helpful and there are plenty of other links on the site to assist, should you run into any problems.
To get to the point, the very first thing you must do before dual booting Linux alongside Windows is backup your operating system. Don’t just backup the files and folders; backup the entire system on an external hard drive. If you put it on a partition and you are unable to access the partition after the dual boot, you are out of luck. It seems obvious, but always backup your system to removable devices or an FTP server. The advantage of having the external hard drive is that you have something tangible in your hands that you can restore your system with.
Secondly, create a system repair disk or buy one. If you have your Windows installation disk, that would be best, but the repair disk will be sufficient to get you into the recovery environment so that you can have a DOS prompt to work from in order to restore your MBR. As long as you have the full system backup and the repair disk, you have a parachute if you mess up the operation. Understand that Linux has a completely different language than DOS and the GNU Grub is not something to be messing with unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Make sure that you partition your hard drive properly before dual booting. DO NOT boot Linux onto the same partition on which you have installed Windows. That just about covers it.
Once you have an effective dual boot of Windows and Linux, you will be rather pleased with yourself and you get to enjoy the benefits of both operating systems. Also, a dual boot is much faster and more efficient than a virtual machine. Enjoy a safe dual boot.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.