Many novice users who are new to Linux often dual-boot Windows and Linux. This means that you have some version of Windows installed on your PC along with Linux. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but I think there are many more advantages.
On the other hand, if you are considering installing a second operating system on your PC, you should be aware of some risks. In most cases, if you do everything correctly and according to the instructions, everything will run smoothly. However, dual-booting can sometimes lead to problems, some of which are hard to predict.
That’s why you need to know not only about the positives but also about the risks of dual-booting.
What are the risks of dual-booting?
The first thing you should know is that dual-booting is completely safe, but only if done correctly. Your PC will definitely not explode and your CPU won’t melt. However, it still has some risks and drawbacks.
Dual-booting reduces disk space
Your disk space will be reduced. For example, if you run a fresh installation of Windows 11, it will take up about 22 GB of space on the SSD or HDD on a 64-bit system, and another 7 GB will be reserved for updates. Added to that is the space used to install the software, as well as the swap file and page file.
A dual boot installation of, say, a minimal Ubuntu 22.04 LTS installation uses 8.6 GB of space. However, a full installation requires 25 GB of memory. Ubuntu requires another 10-15 GB to run.
If you plan to use Windows and Linux partitions regularly, you can use the same amount of space on each. Consequently, you will quickly run out of your computer’s physical memory limit.
Time synchronization issues
Windows and Linux store the time in the computer’s hardware clock differently between system reboots. Linux stores the time in UTC (Greenwich Mean Time) and adds the time zone for each user separately. In Windows, the time is stored directly in the local format.
That is why if you reboot between Linux and Windows, the time will be wrong by a few hours. True, this problem is quickly solved by adjusting one or the other system.
No access to the Linux file system
Linux has built-in NTFS file system drivers, so you will be able to access all Windows files. But there can be difficulties with the reverse process. Windows OS doesn’t have a driver for Ext4 by default, so the operating system suggests that you simply format your Linux disks to NTFS.
The important thing is not to forget about it and not to destroy your Linux installation by accident. You can indeed install the Ext4 driver. This solves the problem.
Two operating systems on a PC are certainly more complicated than one. This complexity is almost nothing to worry about. You just need to remember that Windows should preferably be installed first so that the Linux boot loader detects it after installation and adds the appropriate menu item for it.
You can use any partition table for Linux, either GPT or MBR, but if you are using Windows 10 you will have to use GPT.
What are the advantages of dual-booting Windows and Linux?
Of course, dual-booting has its advantages. Let’s take a closer look at the main of them.
If you are new to Linux and are just transitioning to it, you will always have an operating system at your fingertips to go back to. Anyway, for newcomers, Linux is quite complicated. You may not yet know how and you may have to do something, break something, or that sort of thing.
This is a very unpleasant situation, especially when you have work or homework to do. In many cases, an excuse such as “My PC crashed” won’t help, and your work needs to be done. It is better to have a backup with a familiar operating system where you can get things done quickly and without unnecessary stress.
Launching more games and apps
Even though the situation with games on Linux is improving, Windows is still the preferred platform for games. There are more games for it and they are easier to install. Linux has fewer games and you have to pay for them because they can be installed in most cases only through official distribution platforms such as Steam or GoG.
There are also Windows applications for which Linux has no counterparts. To run such programs you need Windows installed on your PC.
Access to hardware
If you compare using Windows in a virtual machine on Linux or real hardware, the latter is much better. You won’t get the performance in a virtual machine that you would get without it.
And you won’t be able to run every program. VirtualBox, for example, won’t run overclocking programs, video cards, or many of the programs that display information about your computer’s hardware.
How does the Windows update work with dual-booting?
While updating your system from your chosen Linux distribution should lead to minor problems, Windows Update can lead to certain issues. Running Windows Update can cause the master boot record (MBR) to be overwritten, causing you to lose your Linux partition.
Failed updates or even simple driver updates can also cause problems with your dual boot PC. In this situation, you should resort to trying and testing Windows recovery tools to get everything working again.
For the best dual-booting experience, make sure that your computer’s default boot order is set to Windows and not Linux.
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Is dual-booting protected against viruses and malware?
Linux-based operating systems are reliable and almost immune to viruses and other malware. Although there are some exceptions, this is mainly due to the relatively small user base. Many Linux operating systems together occupy only a small part of the operating system market.
Obviously, scammers target Windows in most cases because it is more efficient for their profit. However, many websites are attacked or even go offline because of viruses and malware, and most web servers run on Linux. Therefore, if you’re using a dual-boot computer, the likelihood of malware hitting the Linux environment increases.
When running Windows, it is advisable to use an anti-virus with an Internet security package. On a Linux operating system, you can use a malware scanner. When scanning for viruses, do not focus only on the operating system, check personal data files as well.