When a computer starts normally, it boots up from its internal hard drive where operating system installed. When you install, reinstall, or troubleshoot operating system, you need to set your computer or laptop to boot from a USB drive or CD-ROM. It’s easy that the key is to change the boot order to make USB or CD-ROM the first boot device. Following see how to make such a change  in BIOS Setup and in Boot Menu.

set-computer-to-boot-from-usb-cd

Way 1: Set computer or laptop to boot from USB drive or CD-ROM in BIOS Setup

Entering BIOS Setup Utility, you can change the boot order and select the USB or CD-ROM as the first boot option.

Step 1: Prepare a bootable USB drive or CD-ROM and insert it into the computer or laptop.

Step 2: Start or restart your computer or laptop and watch the first screen show up. Usually, on the bottom of the screen it displays the message saying which key should be pressed to enter BIOS Setup. You need to quickly press and hold the BIOS key until the BIOS/CMOS Setup screen appears. As you can see in the screenshot below, I can press DEL to enter my computer’s BIOS Setup.

first screen

Tips: The first screen and the keys to enter BIOS Setup are different on different computers and laptops. It depends on the computer or laptop’s brands, manufacturer and mainboard. The prompt message flashes across the first screen so that you may have no enough time to catch it. Then you can find your computer’s BIOS keys from the following table.

boot menu keys and bios keys

Step 3: On the keyboard press ↓or ↑key to select Advanced BIOS Features and press Enter.

Select Advanced BIOS Features

Step 4: Press ↓or ↑key to select First Boot Device and press Enter.

Select first boot device

Step 5: Select USB drive or CDROM by ↓or ↑key. Then press Enter to confirm.

select usb drive or cd-rom as first boot device

Step 6: After you make your USB drive or CD-ROM the first boot device, press F10 to save changes. Then your computer will boot from the USB drive or CD-ROM.

Tips: The BIOS Setup screens are a little different depending on different computer’s mainboard. What I showed above is Award BIOS Setup. Another common BIOS setup are AMI BIOS and Phoenix BIOS. No matter what the BIOS Setup utility looks like, what you need to do is making the USB drive or CD-ROM the first boot option.

Way 2: Set computer or laptop to boot from USB drive or CD-ROM in Boot Menu

It’s the most used method to change the first boot device in BIOS Setup Utility. However, another easier way is to enter the Boot Menu to select the first boot device.

  1. Connect a bootable USB drive or CD-ROM to your computer or laptop.
  2. Start or restart computer. Once the first screen appears, quickly press and hold the Boot Menu key (If you can’t catch the Boot Menu key on the first screen, you also can refer to the table above). Release the key when you enter the Boot Menu.
  3.  Select the USB drive or CD-ROM as the first boot device. Then hit Enter to save changes. Then your computer or laptop should boot from the USB drive or CD-ROM.

select a first boot device