Windows 8 was release just last week and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about bootable backups and dual-booting operating systems. Let’s start with bootable backups and what it means to the average user. In this case we are taking about upgrading to a newer operating system. The whole process itself requires a little planning and a good bootable backup of your system. First, verify that your system will support the new operating system by comparing technical requirements, run a compatibility check application or just visit the Windows Compatibility website. Once done, you’re ready to order or purchase your Windows 8 version that suits your needs and hardware specs.

Now before you upgrade your existing Windows version I strongly urge you to create a bootable backup before preceding to upgrade. If you have a PC, you can use Acronis / True Image Home or a freebie called EaseUS Disk Copy Home Edition. For the Mac I recommend Prosoft’s Drive Genius 3 or Apple’s Time Machine. Both of these applications will make a complete copy of your internal system drive that is bootable. One other application I would like to mention (because it allows you to clone your Mac’s Boot Camp partition separately from the Mac OSX) is called Winclone3.  By using one of these applications to create a bootable backup of your drive or existing Windows partitions, it allows you to roll back if something were to go wrong with the upgrade process.

You can also use these applications to backup your system on a regular basis. When you look back at all the time you invested in setting up your system with updates, settings, applications, etc, you realize it’s much easier to restore from a backup than to reinstall everything from scratch. What many users don’t realize is after completing their upgrade, they find out later that key applications don’t work anymore. Since I manage Prosoft’s Technical Support Team, I see this all too often and the average user doesn’t notice this until after the upgrade. We usually get a flood of calls during Apple & Microsoft OS upgrades for lost product serial numbers because of an unsupported version of the installed software will not launch properly if not compatible.

Lastly, one other solution with regards to upgrading to a new operating system is to consider a dual-boot option. This option takes more planning and a little research to pull off for the average user. You will basically be adding a partition to your existing drive. You will need a drive partitioning utility or use disk management to create your new partition before installing windows with an existing version. Once Windows 8 is loaded, you will restart your system and notice that there is a splash screen where you can select which OS to start from. This is how you can toggle back and forth between operating systems. This approach to upgrading allows you time to setup your new OS, settings, and load existing software to see if its compatible. It gives you the option to load the new OS and get used to it slowly and add your software over time. When you’re confident that your “must have” applications work and you can access your wireless networks and email is working fine, then you can completely migrate to the newer OS.