How to Prepare Your Disk to Dual Boot Windows 8 and Linux

Format Your Hard Drive to Dual Boot

Once you have tried using Linux as a live USB and you are beyond using it within a virtual machine you might decide to install Linux to your hard drive.

Many people choose to dual boot before committing to using Linux on a full-time basis.

An illustration of a woman at a computer using a dual boot Windows and Linux Mint system.

The idea is that you use Linux for everyday tasks but when you get stuck or, if there is an application that is completely Windows only with no real alternative, you can switch back to Windows.

This guide helps you prepare your disk for dual-booting Linux and Windows 8. The process is quite straightforward but it needs to be done prior to installing Linux.

Start The Disk Management Tool

Start Windows 8 Disk Management

The tool that you will use for this task is called the Disk Management Tool. You can start the disk management tool by switching to the desktop and right-clicking on the start button. (If you are using Windows 8 and not 8.1 then or right-click in the bottom left corner).

A menu will appear and halfway up the menu is an option for Disk Management Tool.

Choose the Partition to Shrink

Disk Management Tool

Whatever you do don't touch the EFI partition as this or for booting your system.

It is worth making sure that you have a backup of your system before you begin, just in case something goes wrong.

Look for the partition that runs your OS. If you are lucky it will be called OS or Windows. It is likely to be the largest partition on your drive.

When you have found it right-click on the OS partition and choose Shrink Volume.

Shrink the Volume

Shrink Volume

The Shrink Volume dialogue displays the total disk space available in the partition and the amount that you can afford to reduce it by without damaging Windows.

Before accepting the default option consider how much space you will need for Windows in the future and also how much space you wish to give over to Linux

If you are going to install more Windows applications later on, reduce the amount to shrink by to a more acceptable level.

Linux distributions generally don't require much disk space, so as long as you shrink the volume by 20 gigabytes or more you will be able to run Linux alongside Windows. You will, however, probably want to allow some space for installing more Linux applications and you might also wish to make space for a shared partition whereby you can store files that can be accessed by Windows and Linux.

The number that you choose to shrink by has to be entered in megabytes. A gigabyte is 1024 megabytes although if you type "Gigabyte to Megabyte" in Google it shows up as 1 gigabyte = 1000 megabytes.

Enter the amount you wish to shrink Windows by and click Shrink.

If you want to make a 20-gigabyte partition enter 20,000. If you wish to create a 100-gigabyte partition enter 100,000.

The process is usually fairly quick but it obviously depends on the size of the disk you are shrinking.

You will notice that there is now some unpartitioned disk space. Do not try and partition this space.

During the installation of Linux, you will be asked where to install the distribution and this unpartitioned space will become home to the new operating system.