How to dual-boot Windows 10 and Windows 11 on the same PC

How to dual-boot Windows 10 and Windows 11 on the same PC

Windows 11 is now available and rolling out to users around the world. If you’ve read our Windows 11 review, you know there’s a lot to love about this new OS, but there’s also some risk involved with trying a brand-new operating system. Some issues may still pop up, so it’s good to have a backup in case something goes wrong. For that reason, you can either try setting up a VM with Windows 11, or you can dual-boot two versions of Windows on your PC. In this guide, we’ll show you how to dual-boot Windows 11 alongside your current installation of Windows 10.

To do this, you’ll need a PC that meets the Windows 11 system requirements, or one of the PCs on our list of compatible PCs. You’re also going to need an external USB flash drive which you’re going to use as installation media for your new copy of Windows. You’ll also need to have enough free space on your hard drive to install Windows 11. Plus of course, back up your data before starting. No damage should be done to your files in the process, but it’s always good to be safe.


Creating Windows installation media

The first thing you need to do is create USB installation media for Windows 11. To do this, you’ll first need to download Windows 10 or 11 using one of the options below:

How to dual-boot Windows 10 and Windows 11 on the same PC

Either way, you’re going to need a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of capacity. Make sure you’ve backed up any important data on that drive, as you’ll have to erase everything to use it as installation media.

If you want to create installation media for the stable version of Windows 11, the Media Creation Tool is the easiest way to do it. Here’s what you need to do:

If you chose to download a Windows Insider preview ISO, or if you already had an ISO file for Windows 11, you can still create USB installation media using a program like Rufus. This program will take the ISO file you downloaded and flash it onto your USB drive, turning it into installation media. Here’s how to do it:

Creating a partition to dual-boot Windows 10 and 11

Next, you’ll need to create a second partition on your drive for Windows 11. Partitions are like virtual divisions of a hard drive that are marked as different disks. For general use, partitions don’t have much of a purpose, but you do need them for dual-booting. Here’s how to create one.

Install Windows 11 on your second partition for dual-booting

The next step to dual-boot Windows 10 and 11 is to install Windows on your second partition. We’re going to assume you’re using a Windows 10 ISO as we recommended, but the process is similar if you got a Windows 11 ISO right away. If you removed the USB installation media from your PC, insert it again (remove other flash drives), then follow these steps:

  • You’ll be given a series of boot options. Click Use a device, then choose the USB flash drive you have inserted and your PC will boot from it.
  • At this point, your PC will restart, and you will see the option to choose an operating system. You’ll see this screen every time you restart your PC now, so you can choose which operating system you want to use. Unlike the screenshot below (which was taken during early Windows 11 testing), you should already be able to see the two different operating systems with different names.

    To set up the new Windows 11 install, select it, and then follow this guide to set up your installation to your liking. If you chose to install the stable version of Windows 11 but you want to try experimental builds later, you can always join the Windows Insider program from your Windows Update settings.

    From now on, you’ll always have the option to choose between Windows 10 and Windows 11 when booting, though after a few seconds, it will boot into whatever option you used last. You can use Windows 10 for work and Windows 11 for personal use if you’re worried about stability, for example. It’s a great way to try out Windows 11 without taking big risks. As more updates are released for Windows 11, new features and improvements will be added, so it’s a good idea to grab them. You can always check out our update tracker to know about the latest updates.

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