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How to install multiple operating systems on one PC

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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Installing multiple operating systems on a single PC can be a daunting challenge that requires certain skills and knowledge. One should also take into account that each operating system occupies additional disk space and requires additional computer resources.

In today's issue of the Anti-virus Times, we will study several methods for installing two or more operating systems on one PC.

Method №1. Installing different OSs on different hard-drive partitions

This is the riskiest method because if drive partitions are used carelessly, all data can be lost. Also, a conflict can occur between multiple operating systems, which can lead to file damage.

To install different operating systems on different hard-drive partitions:

  1. Back up the important data on your PC, as installing a new operating system may result in data loss on the hard drive.
  2. Start the computer using the boot disk of the selected OS.
  3. When installing an operating system, select "custom installation" and the partition for its location.
  4. Create a new partition on your hard drive and format it according to the OS requirements.
  5. Install the operating system in the selected partition.
  6. After the installation of the first operating system is complete, restart the computer using the boot disk for the second operating system.
  7. Repeat steps 3-5 to install the second operating system in another hard-drive partition.
  8. After the installation of the second operating system is complete, restart your computer and select the operating system you need to run.

You can install an operating system not only from a CD, but also from a USB flash drive. To do this, proceed as follows:

  1. Download the image of the operating system from the official website of the manufacturer or create it yourself with the help of special programs.
  2. Connect the flash drive to the computer on which the operating system is to be installed.
  3. Copy the OS image to the flash drive.
  4. Restart the computer and at startup, click on the proper keyboard key (usually Del or F2) to enter BIOS.
  5. In BIOS, select a boot from the USB device (flash drive) and place it at the top of the boot list.
  6. Save the BIOS settings and restart the computer.
  7. When you start the computer, the installation image of the operating system is loaded from the flash drive.
  8. Follow the instructions for installing the operating system on your hard drive.

The installation process may vary slightly depending on the operating system and computer. In addition, during the installation, you will need to select the language and the partition on the hard drive for the OS installation and make other settings at your discretion.

In a situation when one OS is already installed on a computer, the second system may need to create several of its own partitions on the drive during the installation, which comes with the risk of losing already existing partitions or data. In addition, the second OS will occupy a significant amount of disk space, which can affect the operation of the first system. To minimize the risks, one must carefully monitor all the installer’s messages related to file location and the actions taken with a particular partition.

Method №2. Programs that can create a virtual environment on a hard drive

An example of such a program is VirtualBox – software for creating virtual machines. It allows multiple operating systems to be run on one computer. However, it is not enough to download and install VirtualBox itself to install an OS in a VirtualBox virtual machine: an image with the system’s distribution package is required.

  1. The first step is to download VirtualBox from the official website. Select the version for your operating system and download it.
  2. After downloading the program, start the VirtualBox installer and follow the instructions on the screen. After the installation of the VM is complete, you can start it.
  3. To create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox, click on the "Create" button on the upper panel. Then, follow the instructions on the screen and select the required parameters: the name of the virtual machine, the amount of RAM, the drive for installing the OS, etc.
  4. To start the created VM, select it in the list on the VirtualBox home page and click on the "Start" button. After that, the OS will begin to install or start if it has already been installed.
  5. When the VM is run, you can work in it the same way you would in any other OS. To switch between the VM and the parent OS, press the right Ctrl + right Alt.
  6. To disable the VM, select it in the list on the VirtualBox home page and click on the "Disable" button. After that, the VM will be closed and you will return to the parent OS.

VirtualBox incorporates many functions and features, including the ability to save the state of the virtual machine, connect external devices, configure a network, and much more. The program allows users to simultaneously work with multiple operating systems without risking data loss. However, the computer in this case should have powerful hardware to support the simultaneous operation of multiple operating systems.

Method №3. Working with a second OS in the LiveCD/LiveUSB mode

In this case, installation is not required and the risk of damaging the data of the main OS is minimal. The operating system is booted from a removable media device (CD or USB). This method allows users to get started quickly: an OS usually takes a few minutes to start. Another advantage of working in the LiveCD/LiveUSB mode is mobility. For example, you can use a removable media device if you need to work on someone else's computer. With it, you quickly get access to the operating system you’re used to, without the risk of damaging someone else's system and data while you are working.

The Anti-virus Times recommends

Installing multiple operating systems on a single PC can be useful in the following cases.


If you develop software or use software products from other manufacturers, testing on different operating systems can help ensure maximum compatibility.

Working with various applications

Some applications can only be run on certain operating systems.

Separation of the work and personal environment

Installing two different operating systems on the same PC allows you to separate the work and personal environment. For example, on one OS you can work, and on the other, you can chat on social networks and watch movies.

Saving space

Instead of buying two different computers for work and personal needs, you can install two different operating systems on one PC.

Studying operating systems

Installing multiple operating systems on a single PC can help you study and understand different products and technologies.

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