I had this desktop with a Mint 10 install. Basic usage for several years: web with SRware Iron, Clawsmail, Open Office. I used Sonic Wall's NetExtender to connect to the office Windows 2008 server. All fine. Except one day the system was crapped out. I could force it to a terminal but couldn't get a GUI. It'd been a while since I had a system fail, and usually that was because I tried to break it.
So I used a crap little Asus eeepc with a 10" screen and a borrowed thumb drive and put the iso of Mint 13 Mate on it. Up and running in about 20 mins. I thought I might as well try to use the VirtualBox winxp that was running on the Mint 10. I left the Mint partition existing for this reason. The computer had come with WinXp pro, so I'd used that. No problems except I realized later that you have to get the VirtualBox directly from Oracle to sue USB devices. I only have WinXp in VB to use a Garmin GPS for topo maps. The VB step took about another 15 mins, though if I'd remembered about USB devices, it'd taken probably 10 mins, with most of time getting VB installed.
The system is a little faster. Printer support without looking for a driver - Samsung was ready to go. Libre Office instead of Open Office, All works properly and well. So I guess my main report is messing up your system doesn't really matter. It takes maybe an hour to get it going again. No problemo. I haven't gone on to Cinnamon, had trouble with LMDE when I played with it a 18 mons ago. Mainly flakey destop and locked out of basic things like clicking on the desktop.
--My Linux history: started with Xandros 1.0 when it first came out, and went through all its versions until they quit making them. Then tried Ubuntu, Mepis and whatever they were calling RedHat at the time. Mint was a little more flexible and I could make it as I wanted. So I've put various versions on about 6 machines over time.