How to boot your PC from a CD / DVD or USB stick

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How to boot your PC from CD-DVD or USB stick

Usually, you start your PC from its primary hard drive, which contains your operating system (like Windows). But sometimes you may need to boot your PC from CD / DVD or USB stick, for example if you are running a recovery program or testing a new operating system like Linux. In this guide, we are going to tell you how to boot your PC from CD / DVD or USB stick.

To do this, you need to tell your PC’s BIOS to load the operating system from a different location than usual. You can do this in two ways: by changing the boot order in BIOS or UEFI firmware (so that it tries to boot from CD or USB every time), or by going to a menu. from boot to boot (so it will only boot from CD or USB this time). We will show you both methods in this guide. The first is permanent until you change it again, but should exist on every computer. The latter method is faster, but may not exist on all machines.

REMARK : this process will be different on each computer. The instructions here will walk you through the process, but the screenshots won’t be exactly the same.

How to change the boot order of your PC

The boot order is controlled in your computer’s BIOS or UEFI firmware, depending on how new your PC is.

To access the BIOS, you will need to restart your computer and press a specific key at the start of the boot process. This key is usually displayed on the screen during the boot process. For example, you may see a message that says Press to enter setup “or” Press F2 to enter BIOS “. Press the required key at the right time and your computer’s BIOS will appear.

While Delete and F2 are probably the most common keys, your PC may require another key, such as F1, Esc, or Ctrl + Alt + Esc. If you do not see the required key on the screen, consult your computer manual or search for your computer model name and “bios key” on Google. (If you built your own computer, consult the motherboard manual instead.)

Access BIOS

On a PC with UEFI firmware (which most newer PCs that come with Windows 8 or 10 will have), you may not be able to press a key during startup to access this menu. Instead, you’ll need to start Windows first. Press and hold the “Shift” key while you click the “Restart” option on the Start menu or on the login screen. Windows will restart in a special boot options menu.

Click on the Restart option

Click Troubleshoot> Advanced Options> UEFI Firmware Settings on this menu screen to access your PC’s UEFI settings screen.

This boot menu will also appear automatically if your PC is having trouble booting properly, so you should be able to access it even if your PC cannot boot Windows.

UEFI Firmware Settings

Once you’re in the BIOS or UEFI firmware menu, look for some sort of “Boot” options menu. If you are lucky, there will be a tab at the top of the screen named Boot. Otherwise, this option may be located under another tab.

BIOS or UEFI firmware menu

Use the arrow keys to navigate the BIOS. To select something, press Enter. You will usually see a list of the keys you can use in the lower right corner of your screen. Some newer computers with UEFI firmware may also allow you to use a mouse on this screen.

Start your PC from a USB key

Locate the boot order screen that lists the boot devices. This can be on the Boot tab itself or under a Boot Order option.

Boot order

Select an option and press Enter to change it, either to disable it, or to specify a different boot device. You can also use the + and – keys to move devices up or down in the priority list. (These steps may be slightly different on some computers; see the list of keyboard shortcuts on your screen.)

How to boot your PC from a CD

Note that “USB drive” does not appear as an option in the list, even though our computer has USB ports. If we connected a USB device to the computer before booting up our computer and accessing this screen, we would see the USB drive option in the list. Some computers display the USB drive option even when a drive is not connected, while others do not.

The boot order is a priority list. For example, if “USB drive” is above “hard drive” in your boot order, your computer will try the USB drive and, if it is not connected or no operating system is installed. now it will boot from hard drive.

To save your settings, locate the Save and Exit screen. Select the option “Save changes and reset” or “Save changes and exit” and press Enter to save your changes and restart your computer.

You can also press a specific key to save your settings and reset the computer. Make sure you select the “save and exit” option, not the “ignore changes and exit” option.

Save changes and exit

After your computer restarts, it will start using your new boot order priority.

How to access your PC’s boot menu

To reduce the need to change your boot order, some computers have a boot menu option.

How to access your PC's boot menu

Press the appropriate key, often F11 or F12, to access the boot menu when you start your PC. This allows you to boot once from a specific hardware device without changing your boot order permanently.

Change your boot order

On a UEFI-based PC – again, most PCs that came with Windows 8 or 10 use UEFI – you can choose a boot device from the advanced boot options menu.

From Windows, hold down the Shift key and click the “Restart” option in the Start menu or on the login screen. Your PC will restart in the boot options menu.

Select the “Use a device” option on this screen and you can choose a device you want to boot from, such as a USB flash drive, CD / DVD, or network boot.

Select the Use a device option


In this guide, you have learned how to boot your PC from CD / DVD or USB flash drive. If you have any questions or suggestions let us know in the comments. In addition, also consult this guide if you want to learn how to install Windows 10 from a USB key.

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