Operating systems in Dual Boot and solutions
Nowadays it is very common to have several operating systems installed natively on a computer. If, for example, you need to use both Windows and Linux interchangeably, the best thing you can do is a Dual-Boot to choose which operating system to boot every time we turn on the computer.
In this article, we are going to talk about all the risks that you must take into account when opting for this practical solution of installing several OSs simultaneously on the same PC and choosing which one to start with.
You may be affected by one or more of these risks. But it is very important not to be alarmed, since, in all cases, there is a solution or alternative to be sure.
Data or operating system overwriting
This is most likely the most important risk to consider. What does this mean? It is possible that by wanting to install the second operating system, you can end up affecting the integrity of the data of the primary operating system, or the primary system itself. It is known that you can opt for some tools that will help you in recovering files or damaged operating system, however, the chances of the recovery being successful are not 100%.
The essential action to avoid problems with the primary operating system and associated data is to pay attention to which disk partition you will use for the installation of the secondary system. Although fortunately, practically a large part of the installation wizards have the ability to detect primary partitions, that is disk partitions that are already occupied. Therefore, you will know in advance that that partition is already occupied, but you must be extremely careful not to make a serious and terrible mistake.
Of course, keep in mind that in these cases it is not worth experimenting with this type of action, since, as we mentioned at the beginning, it will not always be possible to recover the damaged thing. Either data or the primary operating system itself.
Problems caused by locked partitions
It is important to point out that the files that are considered important or essential for you will be available. The latter, as long as you have organized them properly. There is nothing more annoying than realizing that apparently, you cannot find your files or you cannot access them for some reason.
One of the most practical alternatives is the use of cloud services to store our files. There are popular solutions like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox among many other private cloud storage solutions. All of them give us the possibility to upload files to our personal cloud and organize them as we want.
However, from this article we recommend you create your own private cloud using a NAS server from brands such as QNAP, Synology or ASUSTOR, and get the most out of it using your own file or folder synchronization applications, and even using Nextcloud directly to this very end.
On the other hand, you can choose to use a hard drive partition, which is only used for storing personal files. Thus, you will guarantee the availability of your files and enhance the good performance of your computer. An important aspect is that if you are going to install OS as different as Windows or Linux, choose a file format that both can read and write without problems.
It is possible that a partition dedicated to your files could be locked. For example, if an unexpected shutdown event occurs when using Windows, any disk partition dedicated to files will be locked.
This means that, if you try to access through Linux as a secondary system, a message will appear indicating that there has been an error when mounting the file system and that the NTFS partition (if you have used this file system ) is in an inconsistent state.
What it tells you is that you should restore the unexpectedly stopped Windows session. Subsequently, you should turn it off normally. Alternatively, you can access that affected partition in read-only mode to access the data.
Also, you can restore your Windows session, proceed again to a full reboot to Windows and finally, make the switch to Linux again. Then try to access the desired partition.
Difficulties updating Windows via Windows Update
One detail that many people overlook is the possibility of problems applying software updates. Despite the fact that Linux is one of the most robust operating systems, it is not spared from the inconveniences caused by dual-booting on your computer. However, when it comes to Windows, the updates you get through Windows Update come with a flood of inconveniences.
In the case that, for example, you use Windows and Linux on the same computer and update the first operating system, there are risks that the MBR will be overwritten. This acronym MBR stands for Master Boot Record, and if it gets overwritten, it will leave you with an inaccessible Linux partition. This situation occurs as a result of failed software updates or even some simple updates such as drivers. In these cases, you would have to manually fix the access to said partition yourself.
One of the quick actions to prevent this problem, or never go through the same thing again, is to set Windows as your primary operating system, if Windows is the operating system you use most frequently. Now, if you need to have a safe user experience through updated software on both Windows and Linux, try virtualizing one of them, for example, if Linux you use it only for specific tasks or access to software that is only compatible with the said operating system.
Viruses and malware: threats against the security of the two systems
There is no doubt that Windows is one of the operating systems most attacked by cybercriminals. Any cybercriminal doesn’t need to try too hard to put the security and performance of one, hundreds, or thousands of computers at risk.
However, and although Linux is generally more secure and robust than Windows, they are not spared from security flaws. Let us remember that several of the security events that we are aware of have to do with websites and their related infrastructure, that is, web servers. And we know that to a greater extent webserver run on Linux-based operating systems.
Both operating systems must be protected with their corresponding security suites. In the case of Windows, we must opt for an antivirus / antimalware solution from which we can make the most of it without losing productivity. What does this mean? That it is not enough to install the solution, apply standard configurations and voila, it remains running. It is necessary to know our antivirus / antimalware well to configure it correctly and that it really protects us.
As for Linux, it is also possible to have antivirus / antimalware solutions. The particularity is that it is possible to have them much more easily since several of these solutions can be obtained directly from the command line. This is one more reason why it is worth being a Linux user and taking our computer skills to the next level.
Encrypting the data partition for access with Linux and windows
If you have created a specific partition to store your data, and you want to encrypt it as a whole, both operating systems have tools for this, but they are not compatible with each other or give many problems. That is, if we make use of partition encryption in Linux, we will not be able to access it from Windows and vice versa. To solve this problem, it is highly recommended to use a tool available for both operating systems such as Veracrypt
This free program will not only allow us to create encrypted containers and “mount” them on a drive to access all data on the fly, but it will also allow us to encrypt entire disk partitions to protect all their content with maximum security. If you are interested in accessing this data partition from both operating systems, one of the best alternatives is to use Veracrypt.
If you have a NAS server for your private cloud
If we have a NAS server, we could also store the encrypted data and access it from Windows and Linux via Samba, FTP, NFS or other protocols such as FTPES and SFTP that incorporate data encryption. If we mount our private cloud, we can access with the typical network protocols to see all the saved files.
We hope that with these security tips, you can protect both the integrity of the files contained in both operating systems, as well as external attacks and also how you can mount the system to access your files safe from both.