Updated: 04/12/2021 by Computer Hope
Dual-boot Windows and Linux

Dual-boot is a term used to describe a computer that utilizes two operating systems. For example, with a dual-boot you could have Windows 8 and macOS X on the same machine. The concept of installing more than two operating systems is referred to as a multi-boot. Some examples of software that assist with a dual-boot include Acronis Disk Director for Windows, Apple boot camp for Mac, and GRUB for Linux users. These programs allow users to pick which operating system they want to load as the computer is starting up. Users can change operating systems for different applications, if desired.


As an alternative, a virtual machine 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

Dual-boot is a great way for users to try out a new operating system. With dual-boot, you can try a new OS, and still boot into your original OS whenever you want. A dual-boot configuration can be especially beneficial to network administrators or computer technicians who need to support or work with multiple system types.

Testing compatibility

Aside from testing a new operating system, dual-boot is also helpful in determining the compatibility of an application with your present computing environment. For example, a user could perform a dry run of an application on a separate OS installation. Doing this would ensure that the software is compatible with both systems, before deleting their previous setup.

Multi-user connectivity

Another advantage of dual-boot is that it can make one computer functional for different users. For example, in a home setting, dual-boot allows you to keep your work or files from being infected by questionable software downloaded by your kids. Or, for instance, you may have a Mac user and a PC user in your home. Dual-booting makes one machine work for both parties.

Operating system terms