Is dual-booting more hassle than it's worth?

There's almost not a day that goes by when I don't receive some correspondence regarding dual-boot. It seems that there are a lot of people out there who'd like to run two or more operating systems on a single PC. But is dual-booting more hassle that it's worth?

There's almost not a day that goes by when I don't receive some correspondence regarding dual-boot. It seems that there are a lot of people out there who'd like to run two or more operating systems on a single PC. But is dual-booting more hassle that it's worth?

I suppose I should begin by saying that I used to be a big fan of dual-booting and that I used to do a lot of it back at a time when it was a much harder and dicier thing to be doing than it is today. It used to be a convenient way to pack multiple OSes onto a single PC and be able to pick and choose which OS you wanted to run. Basically, it was a low-cost way of broadening your OS horizons without all the additional spending associated with multiple PCs (not to mention the space the PCs took ...).

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So, what changed my mind? Well, basically, there's one main reason, and a lot of smaller reasons. The main reason I've gone off dual-booting is that each OS that you add to a system more than doubles the amount of updates that you need to administer. It's not just OS updates that take time, but software updates (which are increasingly becoming vital because the update is increasingly plugging up a vulnerability), driver updates, browser plug-ins and other applications. This problem is made worse because as a rule people who dual-boot spend a lot more time working with one OS than the other, and this means that every time you turn to the less-used OS, you're deluged with updates (this becomes a bigger problem is that OS happens to be Windows ...).

Other, more minor issues, include hassles such as sharing data between the operating systems, the costs of running two or more operating systems (especially if the OSes are commercial OSes, such as Mac and Windows), and logistic hassles such as how best to share out disk space. Another problem is migrations to a new platform in the event of hardware failure or obsolescence (backing up is not the issue, but getting everything to work on the new or repaired system).

Another problem that used to plague me when I was using dual-boot extensively was keeping track of why I'm messing about with dual-booting in the first place. Generally I find that the reason for dual-booting in the first place was pretty short-lived and after a while the second OS isn't required.

Also, if you've given up on Windows and made the shift to Linux for security issues, the fact that you're dual-booting means that you're really not much safer than you were back with Windows. If you really need Windows in order to run a particular piece of software of hardware, or for gaming, I'd much rather have a separate PC, especially now that hardware prices are so low.

Another reason why you might not need to bother with dual-booting is the fact that it's easier than every to run virtual PCs on a single PC. You can also choose between commercial software such as VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion and  Parallels Desktop, or free solutions such as VirtualBox and Microsoft's Virtual PC. Virtualization is also a much better solution than dual-booting in many instances because the hardware is standardized within the virtual PC and so migration is a snap.

So, what do you think about dual-booting? Is it a valuable part of your system, or have you moved on from dual-booting and into virtualization instead?