How to Boot From a Flash Drive

How to Boot From a Flash Drive: Ultimate Guide

Many computer issues require to boot from a flash drive (USB device) or might be even from CD/DVD disk. Such kind of issues like BSOD, crash system boot loader, virus infection, driver issues, etc. don’t allow PC boot properly. Also, you might want to just install or reinstall your OS from scratch. For an inexperienced user, it can be challenge boot from a flash drive or other removable device. Don’t be upset, in this guide we’re going to teach you how to enter into a BIOS, change boot priority and some other things. We’ll guide you through each step carefully and give you tons of examples and descriptions.

 

Table of content

  1. What is BIOS
  2. What is UEFI
  3. Before you start
  4. BIOS / UEFI Boot menu
  5. Run BIOS/UEFI or Boot Menu
    1. Step 1: Turn on or restart your PC
    2. Step 2: BIOS / UEFI Boot Menu (optional)
    3. Step 3: Change boot device priority and save settings.
      1. BIOS boot device priority
      2. UEFI boot device priority
      3. Save settings
  6. Illustrative examples
    1. UEFI MSI H110M PRO-VD Plus (MS-7A15)
    2. UEFI Asus H81M-K
    3. Award BIOS
  7. Conclusion

 

What is BIOS

 

main screen award bios
Award BIOS main screen

 

The BIOS is an abbreviation for Basic Input-Output System. It’s kind of low-level software, which start after you power up a PC or laptop. It checks hardware condition and then starts boot loader, which starts your operating system. A lot of options for hardware configuration are provided by the BIOS. Such options as system date, enable and disable ports, virtualization technology, change boot priority and many more.

If you have some problems with your hardware, the BIOS gives you some signals before a PC starts. Usually, it’s beep sounds from a speaker. The BIOS sets in a special chip on a motherboard. Its version depends on a manufacturer. However, nowadays BIOS is outdated software because it doesn’t meet modern hardware requirements, thus all new PC and laptop equipped with UEFI.

 

What is UEFI

 

UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

The UEFI is an abbreviation for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. It’s also low-level software, which starts after you power up a PC or laptop. The UEFI is new and modern firmware, which intend to replace the BIOS. In 2007, Intel, AMD, Microsoft, and PC manufacturers accept the agreements to use UEFI specifications. It totally reconsiders and meets modern requirements. The UEFI has many benefits such as disk support more than 2.2 TB, secure boot, network compatible, modern interface with mouse support and more.

For support large disk, the UEFI uses a GPT partition table that defines a hard drive layout. The GPT is part of the UEFI specification, and it comes to replacing old MBR partition table standard.

You shouldn’t be confused when people say the BIOS instead of the UEFI for many people it’s same.

 

Before you start

 

Before you start following this guide, I want to clarify a few things. First of all, you should have a bootable device such as a USB flash drive, CD/DVD disk or even external HDD. If you don’t have any bootable device, you can check our guide here. Also, you have to plug a flash drive in or insert CD/DVD disk into optical disk drive before you start.

 

BIOS / UEFI Boot Menu

 

Boot Menu
Boot Menu

The easiest way to boot from a flash drive (USB or CD/DVD device) is boot menu.

The boot menu is a part of BIOS / UEFI firmware, but it provides quick access to a boot configuration without entering the BIOS / UEFI settings. From there you can select from what device you want to boot. When you use the Boot Menu for selecting a boot device your choice isn’t permanent. After the computer restarts, it’ll be booted from default device. If you want to change default bootable device you have to do it from BIOS settings. Depend on a situation you should decide which way is the most appropriate for you.

Entering to the BIOS Boot Menu can be different and depend on motherboard manufacturer. Also, this feature can be disabled or absent. In this way, you have to use BIOS / UEFI settings to boot from a flash drive. These processes are very similar, therefore, we describe it in a next chapter.

 

Run BIOS / UEFI settings or Boot Menu

 

Entering the BIOS / UEFI settings is similar to enter the Boot Menu and either uses a hotkey. The hotkey can be different and depend on motherboard manufacturer. Usually, for entering the BIOS / UEFI settings or the Boot Menu you need to use a hotkey, but each manufacturer has own hotkey or keys combination.

 

Step 1: Turn on or restart PC

 

You can enter the BIOS / UEFI settings or the Boot Menu only when your PC starts up. When you turn the PC on or restart, the BIOS runs a power-on self-test (POST). During this process, you might see a hint about what key you have to press for entering the BIOS / UEFI settings or the Boot Menu. Usually, for entering in settings you need to use next hotkeys: DEL, F2, F12. For run the Boot Menu try to press: F8, F9, F10.

Entering Award BIOS
Entering Award BIOS

Occasionally you see a manufacturer’s logo instead of the POST screen, then you can try to press a TAB key for skipping a logo and see hint combination. Also, you can just press a hotkey, if you know it or just try one of the keys.

 

If this hotkey is useless for you, check our hotkey table by the vendor.

 

VendorBIOS / UEFI settingsBoot Menu
AcerF2, DeleteF12
ASUSF2, DeleteEsc, F8
DellF2, DeleteF12
HPEsc, F1, F10, F11, F12Esc, F9
LenovoF1, F2F8, F10, F12
SamsungF2, F10Esc, F2, F12
SonyASSIST key, F1, F2, F3ASSIST key, Esc, F10, F11
ToshibaF1, F2, F12, Esc F12

 

Step 2: BIOS / UEFI Boot Menu (optional)

 

If you run the Boot Menu follow this step instruction, otherwise just go to Step 3

After you run the Boot Menu you’ll see a table of devices. On this list, you see all devices which you can boot from. You have to select one of them to depend on what bootable device you have. Use arrow keys for select a proper device and then press enter key.

For instance: if you want to boot from a flash drive (USB), probably you need to select USB-HDD or Removable device. But if you have a bootable CD/DVD disk, you should select your optical drive device.

Boot Menu, USB Flash Drive Select
Boot Menu, USB Flash Drive Select
Boot Menu, USB CD Drive Select
Boot Menu, USB CD Drive Select

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Change boot device priority and save settings.

 

When you enter the BIOS / UEFI settings you should change the boot priority and save settings. Although the BIOS and UEFI firmware have similar logic, they look totally different and therefore we’ll split this step on two parts. Also, you should decide what firmware you have, the BIOS or UEFI. Fortunately, it’s easy to understand. As we told you before the UEFI firmware has a couple distinctive features such as modern look and a mouse support. While the BIOS firmware usually has a blue background and a simple menu.

To find out more, check example section. There are a lot of the BIOS / UEFI firmware’s examples in the picture.

 

BIOS boot device priority

 

In the BIOS settings, you need to enter into a section of a menu and change the boot device priority. The name of the section can be different and depend on the manufacturer. The common name for this section is: Boot, Advanced BIOS Features, etc.

 

First Boot Device Award BIOS
First Boot Device Award BIOS

 

 

For the BIOS menu navigation using arrow keys. Use enter key to enter into a section of a menu and ESC key for back.

When you find a section with the boot priority settings, you should set your removable device in the first place.

 

 

UEFI boot device priority

 

Many UEFI firmwares have an ability to change the boot priority right on the main screen. You can use the mouse for navigation and change UEFI settings. You should set the removable device in the first place.

Boot Priority UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Priority UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

 

If you don’t have the Boot Priority settings on the main screen, you have to enter the UEFI Advanced Mode. There is you need to open the Boot section and set the removable device in the first place.

Boot Section UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Section UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

 

Save settings

 

After you set a removable device in the first place you have to save the settings and exit from BIOS / UEFI settings. BIOS / UEFI settings usually have a section Save & Exit Setup or Exit where you can save changes and reboot.

Save and Exit Setup Section Award BIOS
Save and Exit Setup Section Award BIOS
Save Changes UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Save Changes UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrative examples

 

UEFI MSI H110M PRO-VD Plus (MS-7A15)

 

Boot menu

Enter the UEFI and go to Save & Exit, select your flash drive in Boot Override section and press Enter. Now your PC is booting from a flash drive.

UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD, Main Screen
UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD, Main Screen
Boot Menu, Save Exit Section, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Boot Menu, Save Exit Section, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot device priority

 

Go to Boot section, select Boot Option #1 and press Enter

Boot Section, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Boot Section, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Boot Option 1, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Boot Option 1, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Via arrow keys select removable device and press Enter

Select USB Flash Drive, Boot Option 1, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Select USB Flash Drive, Boot Option 1, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
USB Flash Drive Selected, Boot Screen, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
USB Flash Drive Selected, Boot Screen, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Save & Exit, select Save Changes and Reboot then confirm your decision.

Save Exit Section, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Save Exit Section, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Save Changes and Reboot, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD
Save Changes and Reboot, UEFI BIOS MSI H110M PRO-VD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UEFI Asus H81M-K

Boot menu

Enter the UEFI and press Boot Menu button or F8 on the keyboard, select your flash drive in Boot Menu windows and press Enter. Now your PC is booting from a flash drive.

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"<yoastmark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot device priority #1

 

On the main UEFI screen find Boot Priority section

UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

You have to use mouse to drag and drop removable device and set it in the first place

Boot Priority, USB Flash Drive, Second Place UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Priority, USB Flash Drive, Second Place UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Priority, USB Flash Drive, First Place UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Priority, USB Flash Drive, First Place UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then press Exit/Advanced Mode button on the right top corner of screen, then press Save Changes & Reset

Save Changes UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Save Changes UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

Boot device priority #2

 

Press Advanced Mode (F7) and confirm your decision

Advanced Mode Select, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Advanced Mode Select, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Advanced Mode Enter, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Advanced Mode Enter, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Boot section, select Boot Option #1 and press enter

Boot Option Priority, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Option Priority, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

Via arrow keys select removable device and press Enter

Boot Option 1, USB Flash Drive Select, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Option 1, USB Flash Drive Select, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Option 1, USB Flash Drive Selected, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K
Boot Option 1, USB Flash Drive Selected, UEFI BIOS Asus H81M-K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press F10 for saving settings

 

Award BIOS

 

Boot menu

 

During POST screen press F12 key for entering Boot Menu

Boot Menu, Award BIOS
Boot Menu, Award BIOS

 

Select a flash drive or another removable device and press Enter to accept

USB CD Drive Select, Boot Menu
USB CD Drive Select, Boot Menu
USB Flash Drive Select, Boot Menu
USB Flash Drive Select, Boot Menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot device priority

 

Press DEL for entering setup.

Entering Award BIOS
Entering Award BIOS

 

 

Select Advanced BIOS Features section and press Enter

Advanced BIOS Feature Item, Award BIOS
Advanced BIOS Feature Item, Award BIOS
Advanced BIOS Feature, Award BIOS
Advanced BIOS Feature, Award BIOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select First Boot Device and press Enter again

First Boot Device Award BIOS
First Boot Device Award BIOS
CD-ROM First Boot Device, Advanced BIOS Feature, Award BIOS
CD-ROM First Boot Device, Advanced BIOS Feature, Award BIOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select a flash drive or another removable device and press Enter to accept

USB HDD Flash Drive, First Boot Device Select, Advanced BIOS Feature Award BIOS
USB HDD Flash Drive, First Boot Device Select, Advanced BIOS Feature Award BIOS
USB HDD Flash Drive, First Boot Device, Advanced BIOS Feature, Award BIOS
USB HDD Flash Drive, First Boot Device, Advanced BIOS Feature, Award BIOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press ECS key for back to the main award BIOS screen and select Save & Exit Setup, press Enter key and then press “y” for confirming decision.

Save and Exit Setup Section Award BIOS
Save and Exit Setup Section Award BIOS
Save to CMOS and Exit Setup, Award BIOS
Save to CMOS and Exit Setup, Award BIOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

For the first glance boot from a flash drive (USB or CD/DVD disk) can seem a difficult task. But when you boot from your removable device for the first time, you’ll figure out that it’s pretty easy. We hope this article helps you to boot from a removable device and you gain some new experience. Anyway, if you have any question or you want to share your experience drop us a line of comment.

 

That you for reading, Sincerely yours, 123qweasd team.

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