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[Dual booting] [The easy way] [Step 1, reduce your Windows C: to 100Gb or less] [Step 2. Clone Windows to SSD] [Step 3, boot Windows from the Clone] [Step 4, install grub4dos on C:] [] [The hard way]

Dual booting

The following applies to Windows with an older mother board that supports 'Basic Disk' boot device and NOT the modern '64bit only' motherboards (which only support 'UEFI' partitioned drives) Much of below is based on this 'instructables' page. My 'easy install' follows guidance from here

Windows allows multiple operating systems to be installed - you get the choice at power-on (see the C:/boot.ini file). However (as usual) Windows ony understands it's own 'file system' (FAT or NTFS) and can't cope eith Linux file systems (). So you can't use Winddows to boot Linux.

However Linux 'understands' Windows file systems. This means you CAN use Linux to boot Windows

Of cousre 99% of us are starting with a PC box, not a Linux box. So we will need to 'replace' the Windows Boot Loader with a Linux one that lets you select between Windows and Linux - and, if you want to 'recover' your Windows system in the event that something goes wrong, this is where everything becomes 'complicated'.

The main 'complication' is 'backing-up' .. however most of us have stuffed our PC's with music, photos , videos and all sorts of other stuff ..
If C: Windows is using 500Gb (not unusual) where do you put your back-ip ? = and who wants to wait 10Hrs or more whilst Windows Back-up copies 500Gb of files ?

To avoid the 'complications', I recommend you set-up dual boot at the same time as moving Windows to a SSD boot drive i.e. do it the 'easy way'


The easy way

I'm going to assume you have a single big C: drive (say, 1Tb) containg Windows in a single 'primary' partition

I'm also going to assume the C: drive is less than half full i.e. >500 Gb free on a 1Tb drive (>1Tb free on a 2Tb drive)

Finally, I'm going to assume you want both Windows and Linux to boot from a new 128Gb SSD

This means you MUST have a free SATA control cable socket on your motherboard and are happy about opening up your PC to add the hew SSD drive
If any of the above is not true, you will have to do it the 'hard way'

  Your will :- Reduce Windows C: to 100Gb (by moving files to D:), clone C: to SSD Boot SSD, install grub4dos    


Step 1, reduce your Windows C: to 100Gb or less


If we want both Windows and Linux on a 128Gb drive, Linux will need at least 20Gb of that, so Windows gets the rest (say 100Gb). So we have to redice C: to 100Gb max

What we are going to do is 'shrink' the existing C: to free up space and then create a D: on the same drive.
Then, move all your multi-media etc. files to D: leaving less than 100Gb on C:
You can then 'shrink' C: to 100Gb, which LEAVES A GAP (= 'Unallocated' space) between the C: 'promary' partition and the D: extended partition
We will use the 'Unalloated' space later for the FAT32 'shared' partition


Step 2. Clone Windows to SSD

Once C: is less trhan 100Gb, you can open up your PC and plug in the SSD.

With a bit of luck, Windows Disk Manager will 'see' the SSD as a new drive (E:) - if not you may have to 'mount' it as a Basic Disk (make sure to set it as 'bootable')
Now we CLONE the C: Windows partition to the SSD


Step 3, boot Windows from the Clone

This is a bit tricky .. open up the PC, and SWAP the SATA contro, cables between your origibnal hgard drive and the SSD

Swaping the cables means the SSD becomes C: (and your original 'shrunken' system now becomes E:) on next boot
D: should 'stay where it is'


Step 4, install grub4dos on C: (SSD)

instrall [top]

The hard way

The 'problem' is that any normal 'back=up' WON'T COPY THE BOOT BLOCKS. In other words, if something goes wrong with the Libnux Boot install, you will have a non-booting system and no way to 'restore' ...

However a 'disk image' WILL record the Boot blaikcs ... however a simple disk image will save the entire disk .. not so clever when many of todays PC's come with 1Tb hard drives :-).


will create a disk-image that contains only the 'used' blocks

So, before you can back-up Start by backing up your entire Windows system.

The problem is, if your Boot drove is 1Tb (not unusual theer days) then you

The pages in this topic are :-

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