Dual Boot: Windows 10 and Previous Windows Versions

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To stay updated with technology requires some effort. Some of which includes bidding farewell to your old operating system and installing the latest release. If you have a perfectly working setup on your PC for an older version of Windows – you probably do not want to mess it for installing a newer one. What to do? Yes. Dual boot is the answer.

Installing a new operating system (without dual boot) could be a tedious job considering you install the OS, then install the drivers and then your applications. When it’s all done, you have to customize it according to your needs. If the system fails, or you do not like it, you go through the whole process again to reinstall the old OS. Instead, you may try the new Windows 10 in a dual boot environment with your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.

Set Up Windows 10 for Dual Boot with another Operating System

A Dual boot configuration is where you can have two or more operating systems installed on your computer. If you wish to keep your current version of Windows and also want another operating system, say Windows 10, you can setup a dual boot configuration. All you need to do is create another partition or spare a hard disk where you can install it and keep separate OS on a separate hard drive.

The major benefits of setting up a dual boot configuration on a physical partition or hard disk and not on a Virtual Machine are full access to the hardware, which can be memory, graphics and input/output performance of the local disk. While in a virtual environment, you do cannot use all the features of the operating system, but by dual boot you get the complete experience and control to experience all features that are not accessible in a virtual environment.

Plus, the biggest benefit is that there is no risk of losing your other installation of Windows. In addition to that, you can always reboot into the previous installation of Windows or any other operating system any time. It’s a great way to test run a new version of an operating system or a new build or update.

Before you begin

Before making significant changes to your computer like a major update or dual boot, it is strongly recommended that you backup your system . There are various methods to back up your data. You may use the Windows inbuilt features or download a utility online which helps in backing up the data on an external drive. Some people prefer to copy/paste their important files to an external drive, while some use cloud services like OneDrive or Google Drive etc.

How to create back up in Windows 7

  1. From the desktop screen, go to My Computer (Or Computer).  Right-Click on your local hard-drive (C: by default) and Click Properties.
  2. In the properties window, navigate to the Toolstab and then Click Backup now….
  3. On the backup utility window Click on Set up backup.
  4. The next window might take some time to appear, Select the destination location where you would like to save your backups to.

Below is an example of an external hard drive as the location of backup. (I recommend using this)

  1. Now you may decide whether you would like to use default backup folders, or backup your folders by selecting them yourself.
  2. If you chose to select the folders and files yourself, you may select them now. There will be a system image checkbox, check the box for Include a system image of your drives: System Reserved, (C:). 

I suggest checking the box just in case the failure is worse than just lost data.

  1. On the next step you will be required to wait for the backup to finish. You may click on View Details to check the progress/specifics of what exactly is going on.

Backup Complete!

Now you should have a backup file saved and ready just when you need it most!

How to Restore files from the Backup

  1. Return to the backup utility tool, but this time click on Restore my files.
  2. Towards the right-side of the “Restore Files” window you can select the Files or Folders that you would like to restore from your backup copy.
  3. Now, depending upon your files and certain other factors you’ll need to decide whether to restore and replace your files in the original location or if you want to save the restored files to another folder.

Note: Backups can take up a lot of space on your hard-drive, make sure you have enough space.

However, you may adjust the backup space in many cases.

Adjust Backup Size Settings

  1. Go back to the backup utility screen, Click Manage Size under your backup.
  2. Over here you may delete old backups by clicking View backups.
  3. To Turn On automatic backup, you may click Change settings… By doing so you only keep the latest image.

Create System Image in Windows 10

To get started, right-click the Start button to bring up the Quick Access menu click on Control Panel.

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Better yet, use Cortana. Open it. Say: “Hey Cortana, open control panel.”

  1. Once you have Control Panel open, click Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Note: If you do not see that option, change the ‘view by’ settings from the top right corner of the screen to ‘large or small icons’

  1. Then click Create a system image on the left side of the menu.
  2. Windows will scan your computer automatically for backup devices. You have different options to create your system image. Like using an extra internal or external drive, a network location, and you may use DVDs.
  3. You will get a progress screen which will show the current status of the backup process. It might take some time depending upon the size of the backup and the processing power of your CPU. The read/Write speed of a drive also matters.
  4. Upon completion, you will see the option to create a USB recovery drive. (If you have not created one yet)

If you are looking for the backup file on the location you saved it, go into the drive or network location you saved it on and look for the folder called WindowsImageBackup.

Windows 10 Backup and Recovery Tools

Windows 10 has many new backup and recovery features.

There’s a PC Reset that allows you to restore Windows 10 while keeping your files, or even downgrade to your previous version of Windows (within the first 30 days of upgrading).

There is the Advanced Recovery environment which provides tools like System Restore, System Image Recovery, Startup Repair, Selective Startup, and a command prompt for advanced troubleshooting. You can access Advanced Options by holding down the Shift Key and clicking Restart.

You can also access the Advanced Options environment by creating Windows 10 recovery drive.

In addition to making a System Image, there is File History that can be configured to automatically back up your most important files to a separate drive or network location.

If you haven’t upgraded your Windows PC to Windows 10 yet, make sure you back up your data first, and with that, you might want to create a system image.

Creating a Partition

Now that you have a backup of all your data, you need to create another partition to install Windows 10 or the other operating system on.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista users may refer to the Microsoft article below:

Create and format a hard disk partition

Windows 8 users may try the following methods:

  • Press Windows + R while on the desktop screen.
  • Type diskmgmt.msc and hit OK.
  • If you have ‘Unallocated Space’, right click on it to create a new partition or right click on the primary partition (or the partition you want to take out space from) and click on Shrink Volume.
  • Input the size you want to keep for the new partition and follow the prompts to assign it a drive letter and finish creating a partition.
  • Once you have Un-Allocated space, follow the instructions from step 3 in the section ” To create and format a new partition” mentioned in this article.

Create and format a hard disk partition

Keep in mind the disk space for applications, page file, drivers, and accumulation of data over time, while creating a partition. I’d suggest you to go with a minimum 60 to 100 GBs of space for Windows 10 testing.

Download Windows 10 ISO from Microsoft and create Media for installation

https://www.microsoft.com/en-in/software-download/windows10

Start the Installation

Below we describe the standard way to start the installation, useful especially if you are dual booting a 64-bit version of Windows 10 alongside a 32-bit version of Windows. Another way is to start the installation from within a running version Windows and select the partition where you would like to install Windows 10. See below for further instructions how to do so.

When you arrive at this screen, click Custom install Windows only (advanced).

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Select the partition, click Next and wait while Windows installs.

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Starting the Installation from Within a Running Version Windows

Please note, this only works for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1.

If you run the normal setup routine from within a running version of Windows, Windows 10 setup does not give you an option to perform a custom install. A quick workaround for this is to launch the classic setup routine. After inserting your Windows 10 installation media, browse it:

Open the Sources folder. Then double-click the Setup.exe fileThere are multiple files listed with setup in the name, so make sure to select the one with only setup. Then go through the installation process.

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When you have finally set up Windows 10 on your system, each time you start your computer, you will be given the option to choose which operating system you would like to Start.

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mann
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