Alternatively referred to as multi boot, dual boot is a term used to describe a computer that utilizes multiple operating systems on the same computer. For example, with a dual boot you could have Windows 98, Windows 2000, and even another operating systems on the same computer. Some examples of software that assists with a dual boot include Acronis Disk Director for Windows, Apple boot camp on a Mac, and GRUB with Linux.
With dual booting, as the computer boots a menu will appear that allows you to select the operating system you want to use. Once selected, that will be the operating system that loads. An alternative to dual booting is using a virtual machine, which allows you to run an operating system within an operating system.
Reasons why you may want to dual boot
Trial Run For New Operating Systems
This is perhaps the most viable reason for considering dual boot. When a new software is released, it is likely prone to bugs and compatibility concerns with both the hardware and software. With dual boot, you have a way of finding out whether the new operating system will work with the hardware and software that you currently have without compromising its current configuration. For network administrators or computer technicians, dual boot would be greatly beneficial before deploying a new operating system.
Aside from testing a new operating system, dual boot is also helpful in determining the compatibility of an application with your present computing environment. The dry run of applications is done on a separate installation. How can you figure out if one of your previous games will work with a new OS if you will not test it? By doing dual boot, you can ensure that the application is compatible with both systems before deleting the previous setup.
Another advantage of dual boot is for making one computer useful to several users. If you only have a single computer that needs to be used by one or two other users, dual booting is a good way of making the lone computer useful to multiple persons. In a home setting, for example, dual booting allows you to keep your work confidential to your spouse or your files from being infected by software installed by your kids. You can install your operating system on a different location and the other OS on another.