[SOLVED] Looking for best way to separate Work and Gaming computer setup on same machine. Separate profile or Dual boot?

conticreative

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I recently built a new workstation mostly for my business activities. I also would like to start doing some gaming again (I used to do both Sim Racing and Flight Simulation).
Back with my old computer I had created a Gaming profile, and it worked OK, but there was still some cross over with some applications.

On the business side of my Windows 10 installation I have several cloud subscriptions and a number of other programs that would slow down my gaming considerably if active.
I also don't want to run out of space on my 1TB SSD.
These are the options I see:

1: Separate Gaming profile, with gaming apps installed on a D SSD drive (I have a couple I am not using ATM). I would also mount a separate HD for documents and other space intensive gaming files (in my case, racing circuits, terrain maps, etc.)
Still, the profile won't be as streamlined as I would like, based on my experience.

2: Dual boot with a gaming only SSD C drive. That would be ideal, and I would still dedicate a storage HD so I never have to use my business Hard Drives. Essentially, they would be 2 separate computers living side by side.

For the record, I also plan to purchase a newer Video Card. The one I have was pretty good back in the day, but it won't cut it with today's games. However, that will come later.

What would the best approach be? Is there a third way of managing a business and gaming computer/profile I haven't thought about?
 

Math Geek

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it sounds like the dual boot would be the best option for you all this considered. you need full performance from your system for work which the vm compromises on. if nothing else you can run win 10 unactivated on your work OS since you lose no functionality. all you lose is some customization options which are not as important if all you need to do is get your work done :)

your gaming side can get all the fun options so you can make it personal.

that's assuming it does not auto activate anyway, which in my experience you have a 50/50 shot of happening if you keep both installs totally separate like described above.
 
Depending on the requirements of your work software. You may consider running your work software in a virtual machine. Then you can keep them separate without rebooting. Obviously gaming wouldn't be in a VM.

Otherwise (2) it's the best for keeping things separated. It's just annoying to restart all the time.

You already know the caveats of (1). It is more convenient.
 
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I set up a machine for a family where they each had their own ssd with there own copy of windows and apps and games. They would just plug the drive into a 2.5 inch Hot swap data tray on the front of the case and boot up. This was done mainly because the kids would install games with virus/malware then when their mom tried to use the machine it would have problems.

-I used to run several machines with a keyboard/video/mouse switch
- I have run windows game as the main and a VM for coding work

-The setup I liked best was a game machine that I used to remote to a second machine that had all of the work related stuff on it.
 

conticreative

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I'd keep two systems totally separated, with physical switching between SSDs. That is - when gaming, "Work SSD" to be disconnected. When working - swap SSDs, reboot.
I like the idea, but my SSD is on the motherboard and the new SSD would be on a SATA port, but eventually I would also switch it to a PCIe SSD, so it would have to be a dual boot.
That's something I do all the time on my other computer, where I run windows and several Linux Distros, but I have never done it with two Windows 10 installations.

I also use VMs all the time, in fact I am thinking of running all my business out of a VM for security, but that's a project I can't tackle right now.

Thank you all for your suggestions.
 

Math Geek

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depending on the software needs, i'd also go with a VM for the work stuff. it's nice to be able to fire up that vm whenever you feel like and then turn it off again without having to reboot all the time.

think i have a good 7 or 8 vm's ready to go right now on my system. i can fire up one or more than one as needed and love that freedom. it's fiun to have mac os running next to windows and be able to go back and forth in real time.
 
Isn't another Windows profile easier and takes 5 seconds to log-off and log back in the other profile?

I do that here. When it's time for work I just switch profile and I'm in my working environment in 5 seconds.
 

Math Geek

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yes a profile is easy to make but it does not separate everything. the programs are installed for every user, data can be accessed between them and so on.

from a security standpoint, a vm is a much safer way to go rather than just a new user account. but it is an option if you want to take the easy route
 

conticreative

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I agree....work system in a VM.
I agree too. The problem with the VM is that when I first installed Windows 10, I was curious to use Hyper-V so I set it up and. .. It didn't work for me. Every time I tried to update my Windows or Linux VM it "Forgot" my screen resolution and it felt like I was working on a 1989 Mac Plus. I had to always revert to an earlier restore point to get back my screen res. It was a pain.
So I removed Hyper-V but now the other VM solutions I have are not working and I haven't had time to troubleshoot it.
I will probably need to do a clean install of Windows, then set up the VM again (but not Hyper-V, I spent too much time troubleshooting it) and at that point, I'll have all my work and apps working off the VM.

That's a considerable time investment though, so I thought to either create a separate profile (and make a checklist of apps to turn off before gaming) or simply do a dual boot.
Problem is, not many people do Windows dual boot. Most use VMs but a VM is not a solution for Gaming. I need all the performance I can squeeze out of my machine, especially because for the time being, I have an old Video Card.

Next year, around March, I plan to buy a new video card and a new case for my rig and at that point I'll be able to set up the VM properly. I just didn't want to wait that long to start gaming again.
 

USAFRet

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The various VM solutions do NOT play well with each other. Hyper-V and VirtualBox, for instance.
To use VB, you have to disable any and all references to HyperV.

But I use VB exclusively for this. Win 10, Linux, WinServer as guests...no problem.
 

Math Geek

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i have win xp, win 10, mac os, and a few linux variations including RHEL all on virtual box with no issues.

dual booting win 10 is not a problem. it works like any other version of windows. i've done it and had both of them activate since it is the same hardware (thpugh not everytime so your experience may vary). might be a solution for you there if vm's are given you problems
 

USAFRet

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i have win xp, win 10, mac os, and a few linux variations including RHEL all on virtual box with no issues.

dual booting win 10 is not a problem. it works like any other version of windows. i've done it and had both of them activate since it is the same hardware (thpugh not everytime so your experience may vary). might be a solution for you there if vm's are given you problems
Done right, dualboot can be OK.

Done wrong, or for the wrong reasons, and all sorts of issues will emerge.
 

Math Geek

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yah it can if you don't plan ahead. a single ssd with both os's on it and then as much data space on a second drive (or more if needed) would be the way i'd go about it.

this also let's you back-up your work on the second physical drive in case something happens. that and the second drive will be accessible from either OS so long as you don't try anything weird with user folders on the data drive.

i have 3 data drives and a dual boot of win 7 and linux on my main ssd just like this and have 0 problems. but then i started the new build with everything the way i wanted it and did not come back later and try to mess with a current config.
 

conticreative

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I was reading the responses and I realized that I need to clarify a few things:

1) A lot of my daily work involves photography, graphic design, video and audio mastering/editing as well as web development, coding and the usual MS Office based apps. I have a Adobe subscription and I actually use Photoshop, Premiere, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and other Adobe apps on a daily basis. I don't know how well my adobe apps, especially Photoshop and Premiere, would work on a VM.

2) I already have my work as separate as possible. For instance, the OS is on a 1TB nVME SSD, but my documents are on a D drive (the spinning kind). I also have a Z drive for my client folders and one drive for each as backup. I like 1:1 backups, so if a drive fails, I just need to switch my work to my backup drive, buy another one and do an overnight backup on a new drive. I used to use all sort of complex cloud solutions (and still do to an extent) but for rapid retrieval of client and personal documents, having my data backed up each day on a tewin hard drive is much faster and more reliable.

3) Each of my clients has a different browser dedicated to their Website, Amazon store, Cloud drives, etc.. I use Vivaldi as my main Browser for work (Chrome for my own work) and in Vivaldi I can create separate profiles with separate bookmarks, notes, etc. I even run separate VPN for some of the clients.

4) As stated above, I made the mistake of tinkering with Hyper-V when I first built my new computer, now no VM works. I think I know what I need to do to make it work. In addition to removing Hyper-V, which I have done, I have to change settings in my BIOS, but I have been a bit busy since my wife got sick a few months ago (not Covid, but she is at risk) so for now I am running VM on my laptop but not on my desktop. My laptop is a "In case of fire break glass" computer I keep updated mostly in case something bad happens to my desktop. I can connect my backup HD with an enclosure, and I am back at work relatively rapidly.

5) The plan was to install Win 10 as a Dual boot using an older SATA SSD. My experience with Dual boot goes as far as having several Linux Distros on the same machine, and even a Hackintosh (that didn't last long), but never dual Windows OS on the same box.

6) Yes, it's my machine. I built it. Specs are in my sig. As you can see, my video card is ancient because I stopped SimRacing 4 years ago. When I built my new machine I didn't think I would need a more powerful gaming card. Now I do if I want to start again but the one I have will do for starters.

7) I was a pretty serious Sim Racer, I have a cockpit, wheel, pedals and a Wheel with interchangeable steering wheels. I was actually pretty good (but I sucked at Nascar races). I also used to FlightSim and I have much of the needed peripherals.

8) In addition, I am a musician. I have a setup using an older laptop (2017?) downstairs where my Digital piano is, but it would be nice to have an alternate workstation in my office as well, mostly for the large screen. When I mix, using the big screen is much nicer than the 22" I have on my music workstation. Music production should not interfere with my gaming apps, as nothing runs live with the audio programs I use.

Finally, I just want to keep my gaming and Work as separate as possible, using the same physical computer, with the gaming side as divorced from my work side as possible, so I don't have 5 Cloud drives, a half dozen or more start up programs running, programs pinging for updates, etc. when I don't need them for gaming.

I hope I have clarified the situation a bit. In fact, I am willing to test how feasible this all is, as long as I can find a practical way to run a Dual Windows 10 boot, the existing windows 10 on my nVME SSD and the new windows running on my SATA SSD. For further clarification, I would install a document HD just for the gaming, so all the HD devoted to the original windows would simply be sitting there unused.
I know how to use dual boot linux/Windows apps to start with, but I don't know how to setup a possible windows/windows dual boot. How is it done? Do I have to select the start up disk each time? Is there something better?

Thank you.
 

USAFRet

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Dual Windows 10 boot, the existing windows 10 on my nVME SSD and the new windows running on my SATA SSD.
2 different physical drives, no problem.

You already have it installed on the NVMe.

Disconnect that, install on the SATA SSD..

Later, reconnect the NVMe.

For booting up and choosing...interrupt the boot process, and select which drive and OS.
If you don't select, it goes tot he first one, whichever that is, and boots from that.
 

Math Geek

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it sounds like the dual boot would be the best option for you all this considered. you need full performance from your system for work which the vm compromises on. if nothing else you can run win 10 unactivated on your work OS since you lose no functionality. all you lose is some customization options which are not as important if all you need to do is get your work done :)

your gaming side can get all the fun options so you can make it personal.

that's assuming it does not auto activate anyway, which in my experience you have a 50/50 shot of happening if you keep both installs totally separate like described above.
 

conticreative

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2 different physical drives, no problem.
You already have it installed on the NVMe.
Disconnect that, install on the SATA SSD..
Later, reconnect the NVMe.
For booting up and choosing...interrupt the boot process, and select which drive and OS.
If you don't select, it goes tot he first one, whichever that is, and boots from that.
it sounds like the dual boot would be the best option for you all this considered. you need full performance from your system for work which the vm compromises on. if nothing else you can run win 10 unactivated on your work OS since you lose no functionality. all you lose is some customization options which are not as important if all you need to do is get your work done :)
your gaming side can get all the fun options so you can make it personal.
that's assuming it does not auto activate anyway, which in my experience you have a 50/50 shot of happening if you keep both installs totally separate like described above.
Thank you, that's actually the core of my question. For Linux dual boot I have used programs that give me a choice at boot which distro to load. Without that and with separate disks, the only option I know is F8 (On my mobo) to show the boot sequence.
That wouldn't be too terrible, but if there were a way to set the boot disk at restart (if such a beast exist) or a program that halts the boot until I make a choice, it would be nice, but I haven't been able to find anything outside of the linux distro world.
I use a BT keyboard but I have a wired in Keyboard mounted on the underside of my desk I use to work on the BIOS, the rare times I need to. I guess I'll have to use that one to switch disks.

In regard to activation, I have had to deal with it in the past when doing fresh installs of windows, and it can be a crapshoot. I hope it recognizes my CPU ID. If not, would a system restore disk help? I could "restore" my current windows 10 on a new drive (SSD do fail, I have a couple of dead ones sitting on my desk) and see what happens. At worse MS will tell me is not authorized. So I can't change my desktop color. Big deal (Yes, I know there are other issues, but I can't recall any show stoppers).

Anyway, thank you guys, you have been a great help.
 

USAFRet

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The reason I suggest the two physical drives, is to completely delineate the boot partition.
It can be done with both drives installed. You get a menu to choose from.

But, that boot partition, much as GRUB in Linux, will live on just the one drive.
In the future, if you wish to remove it, reformat, or it dies....the whole boot thing then becomes much more difficult to fix.
 

Math Geek

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i have had a couple linux distros that installed easily win windows and then others that i could never get working right in a true dual boot scenario. it seems like to share the boot loader you need linux/mac os on there first and then install windows second.

used to be windows first but seems like that has flipped lately. for the simplest since you already have 1 install up and running is to do the separate drives like USAFret is suggesting. this let's each be totally independent of the other, though you don't get the nice dual boot screen and have to do the f8 selection to chose.
 

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