How to Dual Boot Windows

For most people, running one operating system on their PC or laptop is enough, but in some instances it can come in handy to have two separate versions on a PC. This may be due to specific software that only works with an older release of Windows,  or maybe you want to compare the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 before committing to the switch. Thankfully Windows is designed with dual booting in mind.

You can create a dual-boot system from pretty much any version of Windows, but here we will add Windows 10 to a PC running Windows 7.

(Note that Windows 7 is now end of life, so we do not recommend you run the OS any longer.)

What do I need to dual boot Windows?

Obviously you’ll need a copy of Windows to install, and this needs to be burned onto a CD or written to a USB memory stick. Microsoft provides a downloadable version of Windows 10 on its site, although you’ll still need a product key to activate it if you intend to use the operating system long term.

Fortunately the days of dealing with an \’ISO\’ file are over: when you download Windows 10 using Microsoft\’s Media Creation Tool, the process is automatic. That means you\’ll end up with a USB stick that your computer can boot from.

As ever, before messing around with Windows, you should back up your data, as there\’s no guarantee something won\’t go wrong and you wouldn’t want to lose precious files.

Here are the basic steps before we get to the details:

  1. Install a new hard drive, or create a new partition on the existing one using the Windows Disk Management Utility
  2. Plug in the USB stick containing the new version of Windows, then reboot the PC.
  3. Install Windows 10, being sure to select the Custom option.
  4. Select the newly created partition or the other hard disk as the destination for Windows 10. Then click Next to install the operating system.

How do I install a second copy of Windows?

If you have bought a second hard drive or are using a spare one, you can install the second copy of Windows to this drive. If you don\’t have one, or you can\’t install a second drive because you\’re using a laptop, you\’ll need to use your existing hard drive and partition it.

Create a new partition

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