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Windows 7: Dual Booting

04 Jul 2013   #1

Dual Booting

My PC has a 32 bit version of Windows 7 installed. I have 2 hard drives. I would like to do a clean install to tidy and speed things up.

I also have a copy of Windows 7 64 bit.

Is it possible/practical to retain my current 32 bit OS on the C drive but do a fresh install of the 64 bit version on the Drive? Is there any advantage in doing this rather than just doing a clean install of the 64 bit version over the top of the 32 bit?

As part of the above, is there any gain in partitioning the drive that contains the operating system or is it a case of "You're either in to partitioning or you're not"?

Cheers, Simon

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #2

Multi-Boot W7_Pro_x64 W8.1_Pro_x64 W10_Pro_x64 +Linux_VMs +Chromium_VM

Is the "copy of Windows 7 64 bit" for the same license (just a different install disc)?
If you only have one license (for 1 PC) you should install 64 Bit over the 32 Bit with a clean install.
A single license allows for one Win 7 install - 32 Bit or 64 Bit, but not both at the same time.
If you have two licenses you can dual boot the 32 Bit and 64 Bit versions.
That would allow you to test things on one OS and always have a stable system with the other OS.
If you have 4GB or less RAM there may not be any advantage to changing to 64 Bit.
How much RAM do you have, and why do you want 64 Bit?

I prefer partitioning to keep the OS+Programs on one partition, and all user data on other partition(s).
It makes backup and restore much easier for me.
I can restore the "OS" partition and not lose any personal data.

Here's a good thread on Installation and Partitioning strategy.
An Old School Geek’s approach to Installing & Setting Up a Windows PC
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #3

Dual Booting

Different licences.

Only 2GB.

Why 64 bit? I thought that as I was doing a clean install and I have a 64 bit copy then I might as well install that. Whilst I might not gain much I don't think I would lose anything - would I?

Thanks for the link re partitioning.

Incidentally, can I install 2 copies of 32 bit Windows 7? Can't think why I'd want to though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Jul 2013   #4

Multi-Boot W7_Pro_x64 W8.1_Pro_x64 W10_Pro_x64 +Linux_VMs +Chromium_VM

As you have 2 licenses you can install the 64 Bit without a "licensing concern".
With 2 GB RAM I think you will find the 32 Bit performs as good if not better than the 64 Bit.

If the 64 Bit is an OEM license, it will be tied to the PC it is activated on, and can not be transferred to a different PC later.

In my experience 64 Bit uses more disk space than 32 Bit, if that is a concern for you to consider.
My 64 Bit OS's use apx. 10 GB more space than 32 Bit, after 3+ years...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #5


No, I have 2 separate retail versions of Win 7 not OEM, not tied to any computer.

I guess that I am just looking for the easiest, and quickest, way of doing a clean install and thought that by 'dual booting' I could have a nice clean version, re-install all the software and when all was running okay just delete the old version.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and clean install over the existing system I do have complete system backups- Macrium Reflect - so loss of data, drivers and settings shouldn't be a problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #6

Multi-Boot W7_Pro_x64 W8.1_Pro_x64 W10_Pro_x64 +Linux_VMs +Chromium_VM

Well, with that, you should have no problem installing the 64 Bit while keeping you current 32 Bit OS installed "just in case".
If you do want to keep the 32 Bit intact, disconnect the 32 Bit HD before installing the 64 Bit on the other HD.
That way there will be no boot issues for either OS.
You would have to use the Bios boot selection screen to choose the "secondary" OS when you want to use it, but that's not difficult.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #7
nommy the first

Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit Professional

Hello Sikm,

For the fresh install, please check this or this tutorial. They explain the process of a clean install in easy to follow steps (First link is OEM, second is retail ver).

As for your questions;
If the only difference between the versions is that one is 32 and the other 64 bit, I don't see any advantage.
And as DavidW7ncus says, since you only have 2GB of RAM, the 32Bit version will most likely preform way better then the 64Bit version.
But yes, you can install two versions of Windows 7 on one PC.

Good luck and keep us posted,
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #8
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

I would stick with the 32bit in your case (2GB of RAM). Double boot is always a hassle. I would stay away from that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2013   #9
Microsoft MVP


If you want to test 64 bit I would upgrade my RAM first. Then shrink C to create a new partition for install. Partition or Volume - Shrink

No more than four Primary partitions or you need to first convert non-bootable one to Logical to add an adjacent Logical. Do not convert the disk to Dynamic! If in doubt post back a screenshot of Disk Management - Post a Screen Capture Image - Windows 7 Help Forums

Install to new partition, test which one you prefer during the 30 days to activate, when you decide we will help you delete the old OS if preferred to Recover Space Used by an Older OS, or you can just delete the new one in Disk Mgmt. Partition or Volume - Delete
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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