Mr. Modem: Switching between Windows 7 and 8

I’m using Windows 7 on my computer and my wife has Windows 8.1 on hers. In order to help her learn 8.1, is it possible to install it on my desktop to run along with Windows 7? If so, can I then switch between operating systems? I ran Microsoft’s Upgrade Advisor on my computer and it says it can run Windows 8.1. What do you suggest?

In theory, what you propose can be accomplished, but I would let a professional do that for you. What you want to do is create what is called a dual-boot system.

The first thing that will need to be assessed is if your current computer can accommodate that type of system. If it’s a fairly new computer it probably can. The fact that the Update Advisor says Windows 8 will run is peachy, but not definitive. That simply means it will run. It does not take into account how fast or how slow it will run.

If you install it and it runs like it’s trying to swim through a sea of molasses, what’s the point? A professional will evaluate the computer to determine if it is capable of running Windows 8 at an acceptable speed.

Once that determination is made and the second operating system is properly installed, to change from one system to another requires restarting the computer. During the boot-up process, a menu will appear and you will click to select which operating system you want to use.

Another option is VMWare’s Virtual Machine ( It is a bit too complex to explain in detail here, but once installed, the VMware Player runs virtual machines in separate windows. For example, if you have masochistic tendencies, you could have Windows XP running in one window, Vista in a separate window, Windows 7 in another window and Windows 8 in yet another window.

Complete information is available on the VMWare website, but once again, if you are seriously considering this option, I would recommend letting a professional install and configure it for you.

I have a note telling me to make a monthly visit to Start > Run and enter “temp.” which will take me to a temp folder that should be cleared, which I do. Today I tried entering “Temp,” but I did not get the same folder. This new one appears in my folders listed for Windows; the first does not. What is the difference and should I also clear the Windows Temp folder?

Yes, it’s a good idea to periodically clear out all .tmp (temporary) files, regardless of location. Any .tmp file with a date previous to the current date is safe to delete. So if you are deleting .tmp files on 6-13-15, anything dated 6-12-15 or older is safe to delete. Current-date temporary files may be in use, which is why they are best not deleted.

The fancy-shmancy notation “folder” refers to the default location of the folder. It saves you from having to type the full path to a specific folder. Without it, it would direct you to a temp folder other than the default, hence your discovery of the second temp folder.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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