Can You Run Two Operating Systems in One Computer?


Authored by Kumara Velu in Computer Software
Published on 01-22-2009

Why would anyone want two operating systems in a computer when one is sufficient to take care of one’s major computing needs?

One reason could be that there are useful programs that can only be run from an older operating system. Take for example Windows 98. It provided good support for DOS programs like Wordstar. When you want to switch to a DOS program all you have to do is the restart the computer in MS-DOS mode. Then by typing in a few DOS commands you can get the program running. Windows XP did not provide such an easy support.

Recently, Windows users who were not satisfied with the Vista operating system wanted to run Windows XP so that they could execute some applications without problems. That called for a dual operating system, too. Whether it’s a Win 98 – Win XP combination or Vista – XP combination, there’s a clear advantage of having two operating systems running in the same computer.

If one operating system fails, you can always fall back on the other and work goes on as per normal. Most importantly, you can use the other operating system to access and back up data which you would otherwise have to access through transfer to a separate hard disk.

Also when it comes to formatting your disk which holds your primary operating system, you don’t have to rush into it. You can do it gradually, while working on the other operating system. Even if a virus attack renders certain programs inaccessible, work goes on as usual in the alternative operating system.

We talked about regularly-used software that may not be compatible with newer operating systems. There are also hardware which could only work with older operating systems. The manufacturers may have stopped producing those models and have not bothered to provide drivers to be used with the latest operating systems. So older operating systems may still be relevant.

Now that you’ve understood the benefits of having two operating systems in one computer, let’s take a look at the basic procedure of getting your computer into the multi-booting mode.

First of all determine whether you have enough hard disk space to install two operating systems in your computer. If space is not a problem, then you have to determine whether your hard disk is a basic or dynamic disk. If you have a basic disk then you will have no problem installing two operating systems. On the other hand, if you have a dynamic disk then only one operating disk could be installed. The other operating system has to be installed in another disk. Chances are you would have a basic disk unless you have converted it to a dynamic disk.

The next thing you would have to do is have create a partition. Each operating system must be installed in a separate partition in the same hard disk. Each basic disk can have four partitions, meaning four different operating systems can be installed. Each can be formatted as NTFS or FAT 32.

The older operating system should be installed first and then the newer one – Win XP first then Vista or Win 98 and then Win XP.

After installation is complete, restart your computer. If everything goes on well, you will be asked which operating system you wish to run.


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