Last time we took a look at what it means to boot from a particular device. We mentioned that when a computer first turns on it has no idea what to do; therefore, it must search out specific instructions on how to start up (and load its operating system). Normally, it looks at specific areas of its hard drive to find these instructions; thus, we would say that it is booting off of its hard drive. There are times, however, when one would want to boot off, say, a USB or a CD/DVD. Namely, when a software application wants to interact with your PC outside of the operating system environment

Today at Computer Repair Vancouver we are going to take a look at how to boot off a device other than your hard drive. It is important to note that there is no one, generic way to perform this task. Rather, the method required largely depends upon the workstation you are using and its subsequent BIOS (the built in software used to start your computer). Despite saying this, during our time repairing computer systems we have come across two general procedures: one for older machines (likely 5 years or older) and one for newer machines.

Before we begin let us discuss terminology briefly. From now on we will refer to the USB, CD, or DVD you want to boot off as the “boot media”. If you are trying to boot off of a USB then “boot media” refers to a USB. If you are trying to boot off of a CD then “boot media” refers to a CD. Etc.

Computer Repair Vancouver’s instructions for booting from a new machine

  1. Turn your computer on.
  2. Place the boot media into your computer.
  3. Restart your computer and pay close attention to the information displayed on your monitor. Once you see the word “Boot Menu”, press the keyboard key located next to it (most likely the F12 key). If you manage to hit this keyboard key in time you should be taken to the boot menu (likely a black screen with a list of devices which you can select from). If you do not manage to hit this key in time then you will see Windows begin to load. If this happens then restart your computer and retry this step.
  4. Use the arrow keys to select the appropriate boot device and then hit the “Enter” key.
  5. Wait for your computer to boot.

Computer Repair Vancouver’s instructions for booting from an old machine

  1. Turn your computer on and wait for it to load.
  2. Place the boot media into your computer.
  3. Restart your computer and pay close attention to the information displayed on your monitor. Once you see the word “Setup” press the keyboard key located next to it (most likely the Delete key or the F2 key). If you manage to hit this keyboard key in time you should be taken to a setup screen. If you do not manage to hit this key in time then you will see Windows begin to load. If this happens then restart your computer and retry this step.
  4. Look for the “Boot Sequence” menu item, and select it (usually by hitting the “enter” key)
  5. According to the onscreen instructions, move your boot device to the top of the “Boot Sequence”. For instance, if you wanted to boot off a USB then you would select the USB option and move it to the top of the list.
  6. According to the onscreen instructions, save these settings and exit the setup area.
  7. Wait for your computer to boot.
  8. Once you are done booting from a particular device it is generally a good idea to go back into “Setup” (see step 3) once more, traverse to the “Boot Sequence” (see step 4), move “Internal HDD” (your hard drive) to the top of the list (see step 5), and save the changes (see step 6).

As is evident, this process is fairly quick and easy to accomplish. However, if you do happen to have any problems with this method, or your BIOS is different than described above then feel free to email us here at Computer Repair Vancouver.