How To Boot-Start A Computer From CD, DVD or USB - Page 1 of 1


I originally wrote this tutorial to help people boot/start their computer with the "Windows System Repair Disk". The System Repair Disk can be used to restore a disabled computer to a working state using a "drive or system image". Your computer must be configured to boot or start from a CD, DVD or flash/thumb drive to use the Windows System Repair Disk and many of the free, specialized computer antivirus/malware, disk partitioning, repair and other utility disks.

NOTE: Many new computers, laptops and other devices are no longer sold with optical drives (CD/DVD/other). To boot/start a computer from a USB thumb/flash or other drive follow the instructions I provide below. Choose the drive/device you want to boot/start from when you make your boot order/sequence selection. (See instructions below)

Configure A Computer To Boot/Start From CD/DVD

Your computer must be configured to boot/start from a CD/DVD. For example, if your computer does not boot/start using the "Windows System Repair Disk" you may need to make configuration changes to your computers "BIOS". The BIOS tests and verifies what hardware your computer has available. It passes this information to the the computers operating system (Windows 7, 8 or other) and begins the process of starting/booting your computer. The BIOS is stored on a small memory chip called the CMOS. The CMOS is located on the main circuit board of your computer. The main circuit board of a computer is often referred to as the "mainboard" or "motherboard".

NOTE: If your computer uses the newer UEFI interface you may need to disable secure boot. Review the documentation that came with your computer for directions specific to your make and model of computer.

You make configuration changes to the BIOS by accessing a series of menus/pages within the BIOS setup utility. How you access these configuration pages often varies from one computer brand and model to another. The wording used to describe the changes we need to make may be different from one computer and CMOS chip manufacturer to another. You may need to search the BIOS setup pages to find and make the changes required. It is possible to make changes within the BIOS that could disable your computer. Only change the setting I describe.

Once you have access to the BIOS setup pages you need to change the "boot order". The boot order determinesthe order (1st, 2nd, 3rd) of the devices your computer will search for the code/instructions it uses to boot/start. Change the boot order so the computer first chooses to boot/start from your optical drive (CD/DVD/other) rather than your computer's internal hard drive or other device. The "boot order" setting can often be found under a main page heading that includes the word "Boot" (Example, "Boot Order" or "Boot Sequence"). If no CD/DVD is in the optical drive when the computer is turned on or restarted it will boot from the next drive in the boot order/sequence. Generally, you want the second device in the boot order to be the computer's internal hard drive.

Change Device Boot Order

To choose which device your computer uses to boot/start (boot order) you must restart your computer. In the first couple of seconds while the computer is booting/starting you will see a message that instructs you to press a specific key to enter the BIOS setup utility. In my example, (see image below) as the computer boots/starts you see a message stating "Press F2 to enter SETUP". This message may be different between computer models and brands. You may be asked to press a different key (Examples, ESC, DEL, F1, F8, F10, F11 F12) to enter the BIOS setup. Immediately press the key you are instructed to use. If you miss pressing the appropriate key to enter the BIOS setup you will need to restart your computer and try again.

When you have successfully entered the BIOS setup utility you need to review the directions that describe how to navigate the BIOS setup pages. Find where you change the device "boot order". Set your optical drive (CD/DVD) to be the first device in the boot order. Next you must save your changes then exit the BIOS setup utility. Write the following steps down so you can refer to them while you make the necessary changes.

The basic steps:

  1. Turn on or restart your computer.
  2. Press "F2" or "Delete" or other designated key to enter the BIOS setup utility.
  3. Review the directions that describe how to navigate the BIOS setup pages.
  4. Change the "boot order" making your CD/DVD/ drive the first boot device.
  5. Save your changes to the BIOS setup utility.
  6. Exit the BIOS setup utility.

The image below shows one example of what is seen at the early stage of a computer booting/starting. Your computer screen may not look exactly the same.

The following images show examples of what you may see once you have successfully entered the BIOS setup. The screens YOU see may NOT look exactly the same. Use these images as a reference.

The "Boot" page of this BIOS setup utility is shown with the image below. In this example you can choose the device you want the computer to use to boot/start the computer. The directions you need to follow in order to navigate the BIOS setup are located at both the right and bottom of the page.

Once you've selected your optical drive (CD/DVD) as the device the computer will boot/start from you need to save your configuration changes. See the image below.