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, 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.

Make a backup of your system before you begin, in case something goes wrong.

Start The Disk Management Tool

The tool used for this task is called the Disk Management tool. To start the Disk Management tool, switch to the desktop and right-click the Start button. If you use Windows 8 and not 8.1, right-click the lower-left corner. A menu appears and halfway up the menu is an option for Disk Management.

Start Windows 8 Disk Management

Choose the Partition to Shrink

Look for the partition that runs your OS. It may be called OS or Windows. It is likely to be the largest partition on your drive. When you have found it, right-click the OS partition and choose Shrink Volume.

Don't touch the EFI partition. This partition boots your system.

Disk Management Tool

Shrink the Volume

The Shrink Volume dialog displays the total disk space available in the partition and the amount that it can be reduced without damaging Windows. Before accepting the default option, consider how much space you'll need for Windows in the future and also how much space you want to give to Linux.

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

Shrink Volume

Linux distributions generally don't require much disk space. As long as you shrink the volume by 20 gigabytes (GB) or more, you will be able to run Linux alongside Windows. You may, however, want to allow some space to install 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. The process is usually fairly quick but it depends on the size of the disk you are shrinking. If you want to make a 20 GB partition, enter 20,000. If you wish to create a 100 GB partition, enter 100,000.

You will notice that there is now some unpartitioned disk space. Do not 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.

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