Is it possible to multi-boot two installations of Windows 11 without complications and filesystem corruption?


BadAnalysis

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tl;dr: last lime I tried with Windows 10 was a complete mess so I need advice.

Hello,

I use my PC for both work and gaming. Unfortunately the two don't really co-exist well. Years ago I attempted multi-booting on two different drives but had issues with file corruption and bootloader confusion that I never managed to completely resolve. Below is a list of issues I came across, is there a better way of doing this stably or is it just not possible?

Fastboot: This was a killer. I learned the hard way to disable this. Each time I swapped OSs the loading OS would detect improperly closed files and other issues and attempt to 'correct' them leading to massive file corruption.

Sleep/Hibernate/power loss: Any time I switched OSs without a clean shutdown there would be substantial file corruption where the loading OS would attempt to 'fix' perceived errors.

Bitlocker: I use this for security on my work drive. I did manage to get that working however each time I swapped OS the bootloader would swap between two versions; one for the locked work drive and one for the gaming drive.

Disk boot order: I don't know how this one happened but I ended up in a situation where I could only change OS by selecting a specific disk during system startup.

I managed to mitigate some of these problems. I disabled fastboot, unmounted and offlined drives related to the other OS. This prevented the corruption issues however occasionally, often after a system update one or more of these would revert to default and cause problems again. By using a script to check for these on startup and shutdown I managed to mitigate the problem.

I never managed to work out the issue of having multiple bootloaders or the scenario where I ended up having to select drives during system startup. Perhaps a third-party bootloader could help but with the introduction of Windows 11, the mandatory use of secure boot and my use of Bitlocker I'm guessing this would be difficult at the least. Also, with secure boot, would it even be possible to use two OSs?

If anyone out there has any words of wisdom I'd be grateful.

Thanks.

BTW: My system is Windows 11 compliant and I have two licenses.
 
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cereberus

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tl;dr: last lime I tried with Windows 10 was a complete mess so I need advice.

Hello,

I use my PC for both work and gaming. Unfortunately the two don't really co-exist well. Years ago I attempted multi-booting on two different drives but had issues with file corruption and bootloader confusion that I never managed to completely resolve. Below is a list of issues I came across, is there a better way of doing this stably or is it just not possible?

Fastboot: This was a killer. I learned the hard way to disable this. Each time I swapped OSs the loading OS would detect improperly closed files and other issues and attempt to 'correct' them leading to massive file corruption.

Sleep/Hibernate/power loss: Any time I switched OSs without a clean shutdown there would be substantial file corruption where the loading OS would attempt to 'fix' perceived errors.

Bitlocker: I use this for security on my work drive. I did manage to get that working however each time I swapped OS the bootloader would swap between two versions; one for the locked work drive and one for the gaming drive.

Disk boot order: I don't know how this one happened but I ended up in a situation where I could only change OS by selecting a specific disk during system startup.

I managed to mitigate some of these problems. I disabled fastboot, unmounted and offlined drives related to the other OS. This prevented the corruption issues however occasionally, often after a system update one or more of these would revert to default and cause problems again. By using a script to check for these on startup and shutdown I managed to mitigate the problem.

I never managed to work out the issue of having multiple bootloaders or the scenario where I ended up having to select drives during system startup. Perhaps a third-party bootloader could help but with the introduction of Windows 11, the mandatory use of secure boot and my use of Bitlocker I'm guessing this would be difficult at the least. Also, with secure boot, would it even be possible to use two OSs?

If anyone out there has any words of wisdom I'd be grateful.

Thanks.

BTW: My system is Windows 11 compliant and I have two licenses.
I presume you mean fast start, not fast boot.

You should turn off hibernation on all instances, but this may not be possible on work installation depending on access rights.

You talk about bitlocker - is the whole drive encrypted, or just C drive?

Windows 10 does not require secure boot but should have no issues if set (as well as TPM).
 

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jbcarreon123

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I had a experience dual booting Windows 10 and 11 (but on the same drive), and here's what I learned about it:

1. Enabling Fast Startup (or Hibernation) in the 2 OSes leads to boot straight up to the OS that is shutdown with Fast boot or Hibernated. I used shutdown /s /t 0, restarting or disabling Fast Startup or Hibernate can fix this issue.
2. You can mix and match a desktop folder, or even a Downloads folder in the 2 OSes.

If you are using different drives per OS,

1. you can use your BIOS bootloader, use a 3rd party bootloader, or even using the Windows bootmgr to boot to different drive. It can be GRUB, or others. If you want to use GRUB, you need a Linux disk on hand and know the Terminal.
2. You can use a script to disable the drive regarding to the other OS in the current OS.

Notes:

1. Secure Boot can be enabled. Secure Boot is not one of the requirements to install 11.
2. UEFI or Legacy can be used. Even 1 is Legacy (CSM on UEFI), and the another 1 is UEFI.

Tips:
1. You can use a VHD disk to boot to the another OS.
 

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CountMike

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I do that all time, dual (even triple with Linux) booting but always on separate drives. Last time I had W10 and W11 together is when W11 came out and used together with W10 until I got sure W11 i good enough. They never got mixed up or had and problems mentioned above.
Now I have regular W11 on one disk abd W1 insider dev on other
The "Secret" is to install each one while other other disk is disconnected. No mixing of BOOT possible. I'm using EasyBCD to make a BOOT menu to choose. Had to choose from BIOS only to BOOT Linux because of incompatibly file systems which EasyBCD can't recognize.
 

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Pirilampo2

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I have one drive with triple boot, win 10, win 11 and ubuntu. Just need make partitions and install SO. The last one to nstalling Ubuntu for the grub install.
I didn't need to install any boot manager, when installing the OS it is added at startup. I have another drive only with windows 11 on the same pc and it is also managed at startup. It starts with Ubuntu grub, we choose the windows boot and then we select the system we want to boot.
And a laptop with triple boot too.
 

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I am doing this now with no issues. I carved out 100GB when Win11 first came out so I could give it a trial run, so I had Win10/Win11 on it. A month ago I did an in-place upgrade on the Win10, but I haven't bothered removing the other install yet. The only thing I did was go into Disk Mgmt in each instance & remove the drive letter for the other OS. I do have a shared D: that both can access.

I haven't had a need for it in years, but for a long time I used the Terabyte product, BootIT. It's rock-solid and is designed for stuff like that. They have a UEFI-specific version. Those guys know their stuff.
 

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    no TPM

CornishRattler

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I triple boot. 2 drives, 1 with Windows 11 beta and the other driver with W11 Dev and W10 on separate patroons, I use the windows bootmgr without issues
 

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Comport Colin

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If you fear to see one is destroying the other for whatever reason, bitlock them both, which makes files inaccessible for the other OS. See my article for instructions:
(Works for Win11, too)
 
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cereberus

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If you fear to see one is destroying the other for whatever reason, bitlock them both, which makes files inaccessible for the other OS. See my article for instructions:
(Works for Win11, too)
Minor point - this would only work for Pro (+).

I actually did a post a few days ago about this using basically the same method for a user who wanted to let a friend use pc but limit access to his files and programs. You can play around with permissions but it can get quite messy.

I suggested a dual boot solution, and bitlocking main OS (of course friend would only have standard account on secondary drive).

Actually using a native boot vhd for secondary drive is a good idea as owner can easily backup vhd, and even if friend screws it up, easy to restore backup vhd.

In this particular case, bitlocking secondary OS is not really needed, unless friend wants total privacy as well, but not really possible as owner has admin rights. Friend would have to store data on a usb stick or sd card (or similar).

But you are right, bitlocking both, protects both ways. For OPs case, sounds a good idea.

As an aside, I presume bitlocking main OS reduces risk of infections from secondary OS?
 

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    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
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    ASUS Vivobook 14
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    I7
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    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
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    Realtek built in
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BadAnalysis

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Thanks for your responses. If I install the second OS while the first one exists without disabling the drive, will windows be smart enough to use the existing bootloader or insist on using its own?

With respect to the bitlocker question, the entire work drive is encrypted including the OS.
 

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BadAnalysis

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Minor point - this would only work for Pro (+).

I actually did a post a few days ago about this using basically the same method for a user who wanted to let a friend use pc but limit access to his files and programs. You can play around with permissions but it can get quite messy.

I suggested a dual boot solution, and bitlocking main OS (of course friend would only have standard account on secondary drive).

Actually using a native boot vhd for secondary drive is a good idea as owner can easily backup vhd, and even if friend screws it up, easy to restore backup vhd.

In this particular case, bitlocking secondary OS is not really needed, unless friend wants total privacy as well, but not really possible as owner has admin rights. Friend would have to store data on a usb stick or sd card (or similar).

But you are right, bitlocking both, protects both ways. For OPs case, sounds a good idea.

As an aside, I presume bitlocking main OS reduces risk of infections from secondary OS?
That's an interesting idea but I want to leave the games drive unencrypted.
 

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cereberus

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Thanks for your responses. If I install the second OS while the first one exists without disabling the drive, will windows be smart enough to use the existing bootloader or insist on using its own?

With respect to the bitlocker question, the entire work drive is encrypted including the OS.
Hmmm - are you sure it is entire drive because if the whole drive is encrypted, I am not sure you could boot from other drive using a dual boot menu as EFI would be encrypted as well?

I think you would only be able to boot second drive from bios (assuming it has its own EFI partition) but I do not know for sure without testing it.

Maybe the TPM is clever enough to handle this.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS Vivobook 14
    CPU
    I7
    Motherboard
    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated Intel Iris XE
    Sound Card
    Realtek built in
    Monitor(s) Displays
    N/A
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
    PSU
    Yep, got one
    Case
    Yep, got one
    Cooling
    Stella Artois
    Keyboard
    Built in
    Mouse
    Bluetooth , wired
    Internet Speed
    72 Mb/s :-(
    Browser
    Edge mostly
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    TPM 2.0

BadAnalysis

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Hmmm - are you sure it is entire drive because if the whole drive is encrypted, I am not sure you could boot from other drive using a dual boot menu as EFI would be encrypted as well?

I think you would only be able to boot second drive from bios (assuming it has its own EFI partition) but I do not know for sure without testing it.

Maybe the TPM is clever enough to handle this.
Hmm. I can't remember the details but Im not sure if the EFI partition is also encrypted or if its just the OS (C) partition.
 

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Comport Colin

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"That's an interesting idea but I want to leave the games drive unencrypted." - why would you? The disk performance will be marginally slower, games will not suffer from that.
 

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BadAnalysis

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"That's an interesting idea but I want to leave the games drive unencrypted." - why would you? The disk performance will be marginally slower, games will not suffer from that.
I was actually just reading about bitlocker performance. With CPU acceleration the performance loss is negligible. One issue that I found mentioned several times was an increase in driver access latency. Not something I have much knowledge of though.
 

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BadAnalysis

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To hell with it. I'll do it. I've got dick imaging software so I'll take a backup or three.
 

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BadAnalysis

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Oops! DISK imaging. 🤭

I disabled word filtering on gboard.
 

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CountMike

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If 2 OSs on separate disks, one can only "Hide" the other one by removing letter from other OS partition.
 

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