When installing Windows from a USB flash drive, it becomes necessary to set the boot from a USB drive, for which you need to configure the BIOS so that the computer boots from the desired media. This article will discuss how to install a boot from a USB flash drive to BIOS or UEFI on a computer or laptop.
This article provides examples for different variants of the BIOS / UEFI interface and provides solutions for the most common problems that you may encounter when changing the boot order. The end also describes what to do if you cannot access BIOS or UEFI software on modern PCs and laptops.
- Using the Boot Menu
- Login to BIOS
- Changing the boot order in BIOS and UEFI to boot from USB
- Booting from a USB flash drive in older BIOS versions
- Booting from USB without entering BIOS
- What to do if you can’t open BIOS or Boot Menu
- Video instruction
You can read how to create bootable installation flash drives here:
- Bootable Windows 10 USB stick
- Bootable USB flash drive Windows 8
- Bootable USB flash drive Windows 7
- Bootable USB flash drive Windows XP
Using the Boot Menu to boot from a USB flash drive
In most cases, putting a boot from a USB flash drive into BIOS is required for some one-time task: installing Windows, checking the computer for viruses or restoring the system using a LiveCD, resetting the Windows password. In all these cases, it is not necessary to change the BIOS or UEFI settings, it is enough to call the Boot Menu (boot menu) when you turn on the computer and once select the USB flash drive as the boot device.
For example, when installing Windows, you press the desired key to open the Boot Menu, select the connected USB drive with the system distribution, start the installation – configuration, copying files, etc., and after the first reboot, the computer will boot itself, but already from the hard disk and will continue the installation process normally.
I wrote in great detail about entering this menu on laptops and computers of various brands in the article How to enter the Boot Menu (there is also a video instruction there). Please note that the USB flash drive may not appear in the Boot Menu. Why this happens in detail in the article What to do if the BIOS / UEFI does not see the bootable USB flash drive in the Boot Menu .
How to get into BIOS to select boot options
In different cases, in order to get into the BIOS setup utility, you need to perform, in fact, the same action: immediately after turning on the computer, when the first black screen appears with information about the installed memory or the logo of the computer or motherboard manufacturer, press the desired button on your keyboard – the most common options are Delete and F2. If, when shutting down the already installed system and turning on the computer, you do not have time to open the BIOS, use not “shutdown”, but the “Restart” item and immediately when the screen darkens, start repeatedly pressing the desired key.
Usually, this information is at the bottom or, in old BIOS, at the top among the text of the initial screen: “Press Del to enter Setup”, “Press F2 for Settings” and similar.
By pressing the right button at the right time (the sooner, the better – this must be done before the operating system starts loading), you will be taken to the settings menu – BIOS Setup Utility (the name may be different, but the essence is the same – this is the BIOS / UEFI settings interface). The appearance of this menu may differ, let’s consider a few of the most common options.
Changing boot order in UEFI BIOS to boot from USB
On modern motherboards, the BIOS interface, or more precisely, the UEFI software, as a rule, is often graphical on a PC, but textual on laptops. In all cases, figuring out exactly how to install a boot from a USB flash drive is usually not difficult. Below are some examples and by analogy, most likely you can successfully change the boot order on your system.
As a rule, in order to install a boot from a USB flash drive, we need to perform the following steps (I describe in relation to the image above, which is one of the most common options, and then I will give other implementations of changing the boot order):
- Go to the Boot section in BIOS / UEFI. This can be done either using the arrows on the keyboard (to the right), or in some cases using the mouse. Sometimes boot parameters can be configured right on the main BIOS screen.
- Depending on the specific BIOS, you will see either a list of boot devices (disks connected to the computer), or several Boot Option items with numbers.
- In the first case, you need to put your USB flash drive in the first place: to do this, select it and use the F5 key to move it up (Fn + F5 on some laptops). In the second case, select Boot Option 1, press Enter and select the bootable USB flash drive from the list.
- We save the settings: this can be done on the Exit tab, or, more often, by pressing the F10 key with the confirmation of Save Settings and Exit Setup.
The most common problem when specifying a boot device in modern BIOS / UEFI is the absence of a bootable USB flash drive in the list of boot devices. Most often this happens if the boot type installed in the BIOS (in the screenshot above – UEFI in the OS Type section) and the boot type supported by the flash drive do not match. For example, if you used a USB flash drive for Legacy mode for the above image, it would not work to select it as the first boot device. Read more about the problem and methods of fixing it in the previously mentioned article about why the BIOS does not see the bootable USB flash drive .
Above was an example of one of the most typical BIOS options (UEFI) for today, but other implementations are also possible.
- For example, on some Gigabyte motherboards, you will see a list of connected devices in the Boot Sequence item on the first screen and it will be enough to drag your flash drive to the first place with the mouse.
- Another implementation option, also on Gigabyte: there is no Boot tab, you need to go to BIOS Features, and then go to Boot Option Priorities.
- An interesting approach on Intel branded motherboards: here the boot order can be configured right on the main screen, separately for Legacy mode and UEFI mode (using the mouse), and in Adavnced Options you can get a more detailed view of the available boot devices for each of the modes.
- The following is a relatively simple example of installing a USB stick as the first boot device on an Asus. Please note that here, in order to enable Legacy boot support, you need to enable the CSM (Compatibility Support Mode) option on the same Boot tab.
- Below is an example of how to boot from a USB flash drive on an HP laptop. Here in BIOS you need to go to System Configuration, and already there in Boot Options, where you can find (for some models) a separate list of boot devices for UEFI and Legacy mode. Install the USB flash drive in the first place using the F5 / F6 keys for the desired boot mode.
If you do not find anything similar in your BIOS, carefully study the various sections of the BIOS / UEFI, such as BIOS Features, System Configuration, Advanced Configuration and try to find something related to Boot in these sections.
Configuring boot from a USB flash drive in older BIOS versions
Older motherboards and laptops have some peculiarities of changing the boot order, especially when the user needs to configure the boot from a USB drive. Let’s look at a few examples.
Not only in the AMI BIOS, but also in some other BIOS versions of the same years, you may not find a flash drive to choose as a boot device, and existing items like a USB-HDD may not work. There is a solution for this situation.
Please note that in order to perform all the described actions, the flash drive must be connected to the computer in advance, before entering the BIOS. To set boot from a USB flash drive to AMI BIOS:
- From the top menu, press the right key to select Boot, but do not go to Boot Device Priority.
- After that, select the item “Hard Disk Drives” and in the menu that appears, press Enter on “1st Drive”. If there is no such item, see if there is an Integrated Peripherals section in the BIOS – sometimes the order of hard drives (separate from the boot order) can be configured there.
- In the list, select the name of the flash drive, it will be visible in the list of hard drives – in the second picture, for example, this is Kingmax USB 2.0 Flash Disk. Press Enter, then Esc.
- Next select “Boot device priority”.
- Select First boot device, press Enter.
- Specify the USB flash drive as the first boot device, it will be present here like a normal hard drive.
When finished, press Esc, in the menu above from the Boot item, move to the Exit item and select “Save changes and exit” or “Exit saving changes” – when asked if you are sure if you want to save the changes made, you will need to select Yes or type “Y” from the keyboard, then press Enter. After that, the computer will reboot and start using the flash drive, disk or other device of your choice to boot.
Booting from a USB flash drive to BIOS AWARD or Phoenix
In order to select a device to boot into the Award BIOS, select “Advanced BIOS Features” in the main settings menu, then press Enter with the First Boot Device item selected.
A list of devices from which you can boot will appear – HDD-0, HDD-1, etc., CD-ROM, USB-HDD and others. To boot from a USB flash drive, you need to install a USB-HDD or USB-Flash. For booting from a DVD or CD – CD – ROM. After that, go up one level by pressing Esc, and select the “Save & Exit Setup” menu item. If the USB-HDD method didn’t work, try the approach shown in the previous method, but look for the order of the hard drives in the Integrated Peripherals section.
Configuring boot from external media in older versions of H2O BIOS
To boot from a USB flash drive into the InsydeH20 BIOS, which is found on many laptops, in the main menu, use the “right” key to reach the “Boot” item. Set External Device Boot to Enabled. Below, in the Boot Priority section, use the F5 and F6 keys to set the External Device to the first position. If you want to boot from DVD or CD, select Internal Optic Disc Drive.
Then go to Exit in the top menu and select “Save and Exit Setup”. The computer will reboot from the correct media.
Boot from USB without logging into BIOS (only for Windows 11, 10 and Windows 8.1 with UEFI)
If you have one of the latest versions of Windows installed on your computer, and the motherboard has UEFI software, then you can boot from a USB flash drive without even entering the BIOS settings. The method does not work on any system (the item considered below may be absent even on UEFI systems), and the boot drive must be connected at the time of performing the actions.
In order to reboot by this method, hold down Shift and click on the “Restart” item in the shutdown menu in the Start menu or on the lock screen. Second method: go to settings – change computer settings (through the panel on the right in Windows 8 and 8.1), then open “Update and Recovery” – “Recovery” and click the “Restart” button under “Special boot options”.
On the Select Action screen that appears, select Use Device. USB device, network connection or DVD. ”
On the next screen, you will see a list of devices from which you can boot, among which there should be your flash drive. If suddenly it is not there – click “View other devices”. Once selected, the computer will reboot from the USB drive you specified.
What to do if you can’t log into BIOS to boot from a USB flash drive
Due to the fact that modern operating systems use fast boot technologies, it may turn out that you simply cannot enter BIOS in order to somehow change the settings and boot from the desired device. In this case, I can offer two solutions.
The first is to enter the UEFI software (BIOS) using the special boot options for Windows 10 (see How to enter the BIOS or UEFI Windows 10 ) or Windows 8 and 8.1. I described in detail how to do this here: How to enter BIOS in Windows 8.1 and 8
The second is to try disabling Windows fast boot, and then go to BIOS in the usual way, using the Del or F2 key. To disable Fast Boot, go to Control Panel – Power. Select Power Button Actions from the list on the left.
And in the next window, uncheck the “Enable Fast Startup” item – this should help in using the keys after turning on the computer. Read more: How to disable Fast Startup in Windows 10 .