Linux Windows

7 Risks of Dual Booting Windows and Linux Operating Systems

Christian Cawley Updated 10-07-2020

Considering installing a second operating system, and want to be aware of the risks? Having Windows and Linux installed on your PC gives you the best of both worlds. But it isn’t always smooth sailing. Dual booting can lead to problems, some of which are difficult to foresee.


Is dual booting safe? Does it affect performance? Here are seven dangers of dual booting that you should be aware of before installing a second operating system.

1. Accidental Overwriting of Data/OS

If this isn’t the most important, it’s certainly the risk that can scupper you before you even get started. After all, overwriting your existing data—or even the primary operating system—is going to lead to problems. Sure, you can use recovery tools, but the chances of recovering all your data are minimal.

Fortunately, most operating system installation wizards can detect primary partitions. This means that if you’re installing Windows alongside a Linux distribution, the wizard should highlight the existing partition. You’ll get a choice of what to do next. Linux operating systems, meanwhile, are similarly smart.

But accidents do happen, so take care when installing. Make sure you install the new operating system onto the correct drive and partition, without accidentally losing your data.

2. Dual Booting Can Hit Productivity

Running multiple operating systems on your PC is a great way to maximize productivity. But sometimes it can be counterproductive. If you have a need to use Windows 10 alongside Ubuntu 20.04, it’s convenient to easily switch into that OS.


But do you really need to? Making sure you have equivalent applications in Linux if you have switched from Windows is important. Similarly, you should ensure suitable options are available if switching the other way. Dual booting should really be for experiencing—and enjoying—the whole alternative operating system environment.

Then again, you might not even need to switch. Running Windows in a virtual machine on Linux How to Set Up a Windows Virtual Machine in Linux Many home users prefer to run a dual-boot setup when both Windows and Linux are needed, but if you'd rather run Windows inside Linux, here's how to set that up. Read More is a great solution. Naturally, you can also install Linux in a virtual machine on Windows How to Install Linux in Windows With a VMware Virtual Machine Do you want to install Linux, but can't leave Windows? Try a virtual machine to run your favorite version of Linux inside Windows. We show you how to set up VMware Workstation Player. Read More .

Ultimately, it’s important to make sure you’re using the best operating system for the task at hand.

3. Locked Partitions Cause Problems in Dual Booting Systems

Perhaps one of the biggest pitfalls of dual booting is being unable to access your data. Most of the time, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you have organized things effectively, your vital personal files will be available via whatever operating systems you’re using.


This is possible using cloud storage, for example, or using a HDD partition specifically for personal files.

However, problems can occur. If you’re using Windows and the system shuts down unexpectedly, any dedicated partition used for personal files will be locked. This means that trying to access the drive from your Linux partition will fail. You’ll see a message like this:

Error mounting /dev/sda5 at /media/karma/data: 
Command-line `mount -t "ntfs" -o "uhelper=udisks2,nodev,nosuid,uid=1000,gid=1000,dmask=0077,fmask=0177" 
"/dev/sda5" "/media/karma/data"' exited with non-zero exit status 14: The disk contains an unclean file system (0, 0). 
Metadata kept in Windows cache, refused to mount. Failed to mount '/dev/sda5': 
Operation not permitted The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. 
Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting), or mount the volume read-only with the 'ro' mount option.

This is perhaps the most frustrating risk of dual booting.

Fortunately, it can be fixed, but it might take a few minutes (depending on how quickly your Windows installation boots). You have two options:

  • Follow the instructions in the error and boot the device as read only
  • Reboot into Windows, then initiate an ordered restart to the boot menu and switch back into Linux

With both fixes, the files should be available with full access again.

4. Windows Update and Dual Booting

Windows Update can impact dual booting

Updating your OS is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a robust and secure computer. Unfortunately, it can lead to problems in dual booting scenarios.

Whereas a system update from your Linux distribution of choice should result in few issues, Windows Update can prove devastating.


Running Windows Update can lead to the Master Boot Record (MBR) being rewritten, leaving you with a missing Linux partition. Failed updates, or even simple driver updates, can also cause problems with a dual boot PC.

In this situation, it’s time to resort to the tried and tested Windows 10 recovery tools How to Reinstall Windows 10 Without Losing Your Data Using this option allows you to reinstall Windows without losing the files, personal data and programs you already have on the system. Read More . Although time consuming, if you really need to run Windows, this is the way get it working again.

For the best dual booting experience, ensure that your computer’s boot order defaults to Windows, rather than your Linux OS.

5. Viruses Can Affect Dual Booting Security

Dual booting systems are just as prone to viruses

Linux-based operating systems are robust, they remain largely untroubled by viruses and other malware. While there are some exceptions, this is largely thanks to the relatively small userbase. The many Linux operating systems collectively command only a fraction of the operating system market.

Clearly, scammers target Windows computers because it’s more efficient for them to get results. However, many websites are attacked or even taken offline due to viruses and malware, and most web servers run on Linux.

If you’re running a dual boot computer, therefore, the likelihood of malware affecting the Linux environment increases.

As such, it is wise to maintain an internet security suite when running Windows. In your Linux operating system, running a malware scanner like ClamAV daily should also put your mind at rest. Don’t just focus on the operating system when scanning for viruses; scan your personal data files too.

6. Driver Bugs Can Be Exposed

From time to time, some hardware issues can occur when dual booting. These are typically linked to Windows device drivers, however, and are becoming increasingly rare.

Perhaps the most common hardware issue when dual booting comes in the shape of built-in wireless network cards. These switchable devices can end up being disabled in Windows, and therefore unable to initialize in Linux.

In some ways, a disabled Wi-Fi card recalls the issues with a locked partition discussed in #3, above.

The solution is to research support for the wireless card (or other device) before installing your operating systems. You should also ensure the drivers are up to date on both operating systems. Also, take a moment to check the status of the device in your PC’s UEFI/BIOS.

7. Dual Booting Can Impact Disk Swap Space

In most cases there shouldn’t be too much impact on your hardware from dual booting. One issue you should be aware of, however, is the impact on swap space. Both Linux and Windows use chunks of the hard disk drive to improve performance while the computer is running. However, by installing additional operating systems on the drive, you reduce the amount of space available for this.

The solution here is obvious: don’t install additional operating systems if there is not enough disk space left over. If you’re desperate to dual boot on your PC, then you can simply buy a new HDD or SSD. Once installed, you’ll have the space to more operating systems.

Do You Have Dual Booting Issues?

It’s extremely unlikely that you would be impacted by ALL of these risks. However, at least one, perhaps two, are likely to occur at some point. But nothing here should put you off dual booting. Ensuring your system is set up correctly is important and can help to mitigate or even avoid these issues.

If you would still like to go back to a Windows-only setup, you can safely uninstall the Linux distro from a Windows dual-boot PC How to Safely Uninstall Ubuntu From a Windows Dual-Boot PC Installing Ubuntu on Windows PC as a dual-boot didn't go so well? Here's what you need to know about uninstalling Ubuntu. Read More . Once you’ve done that, why not install Ubuntu inside Windows 10 with the Windows Subsystem for Linux How to Run a Linux Desktop Using the Windows Subsystem for Linux Want to run Linux on your Windows PC? Here's how to run a Linux desktop within Windows using the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Read More ?

Related topics: Computer Security, Data Security, Dual Boot, Linux Tips, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mike Walsh
    July 23, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    The ultimate answer to this, of course, is to keep the two OSs completely separate. One of our Puppy Linux users achieves this by the use of a hot-swappable drive bay. Win 10 is on one drive, Puppy lives on another drive. He swaps out to the one he wants to boot...

    Advantages? Each system is totally self-contained; neither is aware of the other's existence. And this obviates the possibility of Windows attempting to "claim" every drive in the system.....

  2. Isaac
    July 20, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    Have you all just reposted the same article over and over again, since 2017???

    I've been Dual Booting Windows and Linux for the better part of 15yrs...
    As with any technology, if you are not careful, you can break it...
    While there are occasions where a VM, or emulation (cygwin) are simpler, and easier, if you need a Full OS, Dual booting is still the best way to go. Don't discourage... Encourage learning.

  3. X64.bits
    July 20, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    I been using dual boot for many years and haven't encountered any problem, as a matter of fact i just bought a new laptop & one of the first things i did was to add Linux. I use Linux 90% and the other 10% i use Microflaw. : )

  4. S. D. Martino
    July 11, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    That's why i always overwrite the Windows os with a proper Linux os. No dual booting for me.

    • Friar Tux
      July 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      I agree. And since Linux allows me to use Wine to bring up any NTFS/Windows base apps/programs, I don't really need Windows at all. Hasn't failed me, yet. No need to dual boot.

  5. dragonmouth
    July 10, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    There is another risk - you might realize how much better Linux is and wipe out the Windows partition. :-)

    • Friar Tux
      July 22, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Amen, brother. Amen.

  6. Hemish
    May 21, 2020 at 9:31 am

    The most frustrating experience of dual booting I had is as follows:
    I generally boot Zorin OS from flash drive (live) and I connect to Internet through 802.11 wireless network card. But, when I boot back into Windows and connect to any network wirelessly through same network card, I have a limited access to network and I can not not browse anuthing on Internet.
    The most practicap solution I have found is to unplug the network card and plug it again in USB slot after booting Windows.

  7. espotter
    May 3, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    It is a 8-year old sony vaio laptop and want to dual boot linux mint along with windows 10. Before full installation of linux mint, did boot it from usb flash to check with interface and features. Opened gparted to have a look over partitions and opened the linux install from desktop for install process and in curious hit the 'install 3rd party drivers and applications...' in belief that it was just a option to tick that might be actually installing all those third party items while actual installation process. quit the linux interface and once logged in to windows only then had to face the damm issue of switched off wireless adaptor. Did all from Network Reset and executing network commands as before once fixed the same issue after a install try with linux ubuntu. The shocking of all came when checked with the windows troubleshoot option of restore point were all schdeuled restore points and manual restore point created before getting into linux interface all got erased after trying with network reset and network commands. Uninstall wirless adaptor driver and reinstall did not work as it was working properly. Further after performing from basis to all prescribed methods the blockage seem intact. So as a lead option tried with Reset PC from Recovery which inturn want to reinstall OEM windows 7 to reset all to flat and so had to abort. Post applying all the methods it was enough to estimate that the issue lie somewhere with altered settings that windows itself dont have options to reset it.

    Then the other lead option was to boot from usb flash to repair window and the setup reguided to login to windows and try the upgrade option from the media. As the only option left before, on selecting upgrade install over existing windows 10 1909 the setup was showing as many messages as preparing, undoing changes.. and lastly while updating the windows due to power off, the windows update was stopped finishing 90% and system got shutdown. On plugging to the power and restarting, started again with the same undoing changes and all.. and then had to login to windows only to see the popup message 'we have set the pc right were it was..' message and no change was made. The wifi wireless network was catching all networks and was working as usual. The thing here to note is the improper setting that was blocking the feature got flushed during the upgrade install process or while retracking the upgrade process.

  8. bobby
    December 27, 2019 at 5:08 am

    Just getting out of win 7 and into win 10 plus wanting to havr ubantu...sp this info is valuable. Thank you.

  9. george johnson
    February 10, 2019 at 1:37 am

    The biggie is #4 I lost count of the number of dual boots microdoft gleefully bricked with their Spring 2018 update. Microsoft = bad actor! Not acting in good faith they are vicious and obviously need more government bruising.

  10. Kedar Bapat
    November 23, 2018 at 9:34 am

    A simple solution for dual boot I have used it on two separate hard disk bone is windows and second one is Linux both hard disk attached to motherboard for using any operating system use switching necessary between electrical supply. That's all

  11. Isaac
    October 26, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Been dual booting for years now. Pretty easy now with UEFI as you can use the built-in tools to switch operating systems. No need to worry about the MBR getting corrupted or dealing with grub configs and I can even use bitlocker on Windows with the TPM no problem.
    Now I use Linux the majority of the time and only have to boot Windows to play some Windows exclusive games.
    The main problem I've had has been using the same set of Bluetooth headphones between both OSes. Was able to fix that simply by coping the sync key from the Windows registry to a config file in Linux.

  12. Paul Anderson
    September 30, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Too many issues can come from dual booting. You have 2 completely different OS paradigms trying to tell the computational device what to do; the cooling system; the BT & WiFi chips; drivers; video cards; the list goes on. Therefore, it is not wise to have 2 operating systems on one device, and especially running them concurrently, and especially nowadays when SFF-PC's and laptops are so cheap, relative to the past. Easier to just have 2 or 3 devices; a PC for heavy work at home; 2 thin laptops for portable work, and also a communications handset (smartphone).
    I'm an amateur computer builder and re-modeler; I help people install Linux Distros onto NUC-PC Kits and also refurbish laptops by replacing the older HDD's with SSD's and then installing a Distro. I steer people away from Microsoft and Apple products (altogether) and move them gently into a more open source (FOSS) tech world.
    I'm Grey Geek!

  13. BeenThereDoneThat
    May 27, 2018 at 7:10 am

    I thought this would be a real article. Sad to see how wrong I was. "Make us of" seems to be an very unreliable publisher.

    Good to know I won't have visit this site again.

    • Ben
      December 23, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      I’m with you on that. This site is useless.

    • Ben
      December 23, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      This site is useless.

    • Col. Panek
      July 20, 2020 at 5:12 pm

      I always skim the article and go right to the comments, which are better than the article.

  14. Ayush
    May 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    I have dual booted my Lenovo b490 with windows 10 and Manjaro Linux
    , Earlier when there was only windows I was able to use my laptop but when I dual booted it I'm unable to use both OS , when I turn on my laptop BIOS setup appear I can see the name of OS installed but when I select anyone and hit enter the screen just flash up and stays there , so help me

    I have used Disk partition before dual booting

  15. Dawson
    November 14, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Seriously? Try again Make Use Of. I thought this site was better than this.

    • Davis
      November 15, 2017 at 7:47 am

      People who even thinks of installing an OS on their own will have enough technical knowledge not to run into most of the **risks** listed here.

      • Eric
        July 20, 2020 at 10:47 pm

        That is so absolutely NOT TRUE. Most people yes. Many "noobies" not so much. And remember everybody is a noobie at some stage of their computer skill level.

        I know of several people who jumped in early, thinking that it was easy peasey only to find out that it was anything but. Fortunately the problems happened at an early stage and the damage, in all these cases, wasn't catastrophic.

  16. Paul Homer
    November 14, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    The way I dual boot in my laptop without having the space issues is that I installed Ubuntu on the main hard drive then put that drive in a external drive case and installed windows on a new drive in the laptop, I can run the external drive with Ubuntu on it as a USB drive and amazing enough it is still faster than the installed windows.

  17. Linus
    November 14, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    I've had to dual boot Linux and Windows since the turn of the century. Its the only way I can keep Windows functional. The laptop i use now has had the same Arch Linux I put on it since i got it 3 years ago, while it has seen 4 versions of barely working Windows.

  18. Tim
    November 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    What a bunch of misinformation. I don't even have time to list all the inaccuracies.

    • Eric
      July 20, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      Probably because you can't spell all of the big words? rg&dfc

  19. virus
    November 14, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Nice one ill face 3 problem of them

  20. Sam
    November 14, 2017 at 2:05 am

    These types of Articles crack me up I've been running dual boot quad boot 10 boot for probably 20 years now and yes you can mess up your system if you personally screw something up but in most cases if you know what you're doing, it comes out fine. Besides that it should be noted that it wouldn't matter what the two operating systems are if you flaw it up you flaw it up.

  21. Muntazir
    November 14, 2017 at 1:59 am

    I believe "Secure Boot" is not supported by some flavors of linux and hence has to be disabled in BIOS/UEFI thereby opening a security hole

  22. Nazar
    November 13, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Yup almost bricked my motherboard and nearly killed my windows install. I found this supper weird since they where on different drives. Not to go into detail but i did the trouble shooting and that was the actual culprit.

  23. William Vasquez
    November 13, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I have had almost no issues with dual booting. I have an old computer that has 2 hard drives. On one I have Windows 7 and on the other I have Ubuntu Mate. The only minor annoyance is whenever I go from Linux to Windows, the time and date need to be re-synced with the internet. And NEVER do virtual machine. It uses too much resources in your computer to run 2 operating systems. They run slower; certain things never run correctly; frequent computer freezing and lockups; and a bigger risk if you catch a Windows virus while using Linux. And, yes, you may find yourself using Linux 99% of the time, and almost no time in Windows, so why not use it the best way...a full install.

    • Lisa R
      November 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      Think again - a VM *is* a full install. You're much better off creating a VM and suspending it when you don't use it rather than dual boot. Too many things can go wrong with dual boot (hence this article), while VM isolation guarantees no contamination between the two environments (such as OS-specific viruses).

      • dragonmouth
        November 13, 2017 at 7:26 pm

        When dual booting, each O/S gets full access to ALL of the system resources. A VM runs inside an O/S, borrowing resources from the O/S. Whether you suspend it or not, it has to share the resources. No matter how you slice it, dice it and spin it, sharing resources always results in a slowdown.

        • Lisa R
          November 13, 2017 at 7:33 pm

          Dual boot means you lose all access to the OS that's not booted. A suspended VM has almost no performance hit on the running OS, and a powered off VM has none. It's worth the minor trade off knowing that if you need to get to the VM's OS, you just start up the VM and shut it down when you're done. Why would anyone want to have to rebooting the native OS?! Ain't nobody got time for that.

        • Loloy D
          November 15, 2017 at 2:52 am

          It seems like you don't use Hypervisors and Citrix much. VMs are the ways to go with modern infrastructure and multi-core computers having large amounts of RAM.

    • Bruce Epper
      November 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Your time issue is a configuration problem. Windows likes the RTC to default to local time while *nix systems like UTC. Setting them so they are both using either UTC or local will eliminate the problem.

    • Jon Jadot
      November 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Virtual Machine uses almost no overhead if you do hardware passthrough. I have windows VM that benchmarks within 3% of windows on a bare metal install. This is with 1080ti passed through to windows for gaming. Score 8400 on timespy, 8600 with Windows on bare metal. That is hardly slowing things down.

    • Beast1
      November 15, 2017 at 12:45 am

      Did you ever figure out how to fix the time error? Same issue when going Linux -> Windows, the clock is off and needs to be resynced.

      • sifr
        November 15, 2017 at 3:22 am

        Linux uses UTC and Windows uses localtime. Which is why it breaks the windows clock going from linux to windows. Windows thinks the hardware clock is set to localtime and adjusts accordingly, when it's actually set to UTC. You can fix it with a regedit. Depending on which version of windows you're running. It's usually run regedit, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\TimeZoneInformation\RealTimeIsUniversal then add a dword value of 1.

      • sifr
        November 15, 2017 at 3:37 am

        Okay. So the majority of these are non issues. Most of them would require you to actually be TRYING to break things to acheive.
        More importantly... That first screenshot is the WUBI install on the 2012 Ubuntu... What the heck? No one could find a more recent actual dual boot screenshot instead of the weird hybrid dual boot from inside windows that disappeared almost instantly?

        Send me an email, I'll get you one for free...

    • Loloy D
      November 15, 2017 at 3:00 am

      Actually, it makes more sense to do VMs than doing dual boot based on your reasoning. In my home and personal machines, I have Linux Mint as hosts and Windows as guests only. Only apps that don't run/play well with Wine get to see the light of day in a Windows VM, most of which are in XP.

  24. Lisa R
    November 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Dual booting? How 90s. VMs, man, it's all about the virtual! VMware lets you run OS X, Linux, AND Windows on any hardware.

  25. dragonmouth
    November 13, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Another risk of dual booting is that you might get to like Linux so much that you give Windows the boot. :-)

    • Ronald
      November 13, 2017 at 10:54 pm


    • GhostRider2001
      November 14, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      I can relate to that comment. The only real reason I have to run windows these days in for the software I use for tax preparation, which can be dual boot or VM. Very little need to ever user windows again.

      • dragonmouth
        November 14, 2017 at 5:25 pm

        Yes. I do wish Intuit and/or TaxAct and/or H&R Block would port their product to Linux.

        BTW - my comment was sort of tongue in cheek.

        • Col. Panek
          July 20, 2020 at 5:13 pm

          I've used browser based Tax Act on Linux for years.

    • Terrance
      November 15, 2017 at 3:25 am


    • Jim
      November 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

      That is why I quit dual booting. The only time I used Windows was to update it and run virus and adware checks. Took up way to much time for nothing. Now I only use Linux.