I have a triple boot system (UEFI, gpt) on a single 1TB HDD with W7 (used once a year to do my income tax return), LM17.3 (retired) and LM18.3. The way I have this set up may be a little too advanced for a complete newbie, but is really pretty simple and should be easy for a near beginner to implement if he has a gpt HDD with plenty of space on it.
What I have started doing is to have separate partitions for odd numbered and even numbered Mint editions. Actually I have a separate / and /home for each version (probably don't really need the separate /home, but I started out with that and see no reason to change at this point). I have a separate Data partition shared between both versions and have moved my thunderbird and firefox profiles onto the data partition (symlinked from the thunderbird and firefox directories in both versions) so that all my personal data, emails, and FF bookmarks are available from either version. So when I get ready to install LM19, it will replace LM17.3, but I can continue using LM18.3 while I configure LM19 at my leisure. Then I will continue upgrading to 19.1, 19.2, 19.3 in place, then LM20 will replace LM18.3. I am not using a shared /home for both because I have heard that sometimes using old versions of configuration files can conflict with newer versions of the same software, so a clean install seems safer. I made a detailed itemized list of everything I did when I moved from 17.3 to 18.3, so I think setting up 19 "from scratch" should not be too bad. I can boot into 18.3 when I want to use the computer, or boot into 19 when I have some spare time to get it configured, without worrying that I will mess something up on my working 18.3. When I get 19 configured and switch over to using it full time, I will still have 18.3 as a backup. The only complication I have run into is with "firejail" - because I moved my thunderbird and firefox profiles onto my data partition I had to add a whitelist statement for these folders in /etc/firejail/firefox.profile and /etc/firejail/thunderbird.profile.
EDIT: Per recommendation from Fred Barclay, it is best not to modify those two firejail ".profile" files, but rather to create two new files, /etc/firejail/firefox.local and /etc/firejail/thunderbird.local and put the required whitelist statement in each file, so that an update to firejail which replaces /etc/firejail/firefox.profile and /etc/firejail/thunderbird.profile will not wipe out the whitelist statements.
Here's my disk layout:
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Model: ATA ST1000DM003-1ER1 (scsi) Disk /dev/sda: 1000GB Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/4096B Partition Table: gpt Disk Flags: Number Start End Size File system Name Flags 1 1049kB 106MB 105MB fat32 EFI system partition boot, esp 2 106MB 240MB 134MB Microsoft reserved partition msftres 3 240MB 302GB 301GB ntfs Basic data partition msftdata 11 322GB 344GB 21.5GB ext4 LM18_root 12 354GB 365GB 10.7GB ext4 LM18_home 13 387GB 483GB 96.6GB ext4 LM18_timeshift 4 500GB 500GB 105MB fat32 msftdata 5 500GB 522GB 21.5GB ext4 LM17_root 6 522GB 543GB 21.5GB ext4 LM17_home 7 543GB 651GB 107GB ext4 Data 8 651GB 668GB 17.2GB linux-swap(v1) Swap 10 878GB 983GB 105GB ext4 LM17_timeshift 9 983GB 1000GB 17.2GB fat32 Share msftdata