Do not install Linux alongside Windows
July 25, 2011
Yes, don’t do it IF you are doing it for the first time (or are still inexperienced) AND you really, really can’t risk losing your Windows partition. Yes, there are multiple ways to recover if your Windows is messed up during the process but if you can avoid it, why not? The best thing in this situation is to install Linux on a separate drive (hard drive, flash drive, etc.) and keep your Windows partition untouched.
If you really want to try dual-boot or even multi-boot, then backup your data. After backing up, verify your backup. Make sure you have access to installation media for Windows (including license key) and applications you already have installed. Be prepared for the worst.
This advice is for the inexperienced amongst us. If you are willing to risk and learn from unintended consequences, then by all means go ahead. But if you are not willing, then better safe than sorry. Having said that, I have not had a problem installing Ubuntu along side Windows and Mac OS X in the last two years on many different types of hardware. This shows that multiple-boot can be done without problems most of the time. If I can do it, anyone else can surely do it. But when I do it, I always prepare myself to handle bad situations. You should, too.