How To Change Boot Order In Computer BIOS

How To Change Boot Order In Computer BIOS


Changing the boot order of your computer’s “bootable” devices, such as your hard drive or bootable media in a USB port (e.g., flash drive), floppy drive, or optical drive, is simple.

A person changing the boot order on a computer using the BIOS.
Derek Abella / Lifewire
Why Should the Boot Order Be Changed?
Changing the boot order is required in several situations, such as when launching data destruction tools and bootable antivirus programs, as well as when installing an operating system.

The BIOS setup utility is where you can configure the boot order.

Because the boot order is a BIOS setting, it is independent of the operating system. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have Windows 10, Windows 8, or another Windows version on your hard drive or another bootable device, Linux, or any other PC OS; these boot sequence change instructions will still apply.

How to Modify the Boot Order
To change the boot order in BIOS, follow these steps. The order in which devices are booted is affected by changes to the boot sequence.

Step 1: Restart or turn on your computer.
Turn on or restart your computer, and look for a message during the POST about pressing a specific key, usually Del or F2, to access the BIOS setup utility. As soon as you see the message, press this key.

A screen shot of a Power On Self Test (POST) screen Power On Self Test (POST).
Step 2: Launch the BIOS Configuration Utility.
After entering the BIOS Setup Utility, execute the correct keyboard command from the previous step.

A screenshot of the Main Menu of the BIOS Setup Utility
Main Menu of the BIOS Setup Utility
Because every BIOS utility is a little different, yours may look similar to this or completely different. Whatever their appearance, they’re all essentially a set of menus offering a variety of hardware options for your computer.

The menu selections are shown horizontally at the top of the screen in this BIOS, the hardware options are listed in the middle (grey area), and the directions for moving around the BIOS and making changes are listed at the bottom.

Locate the option for modifying the boot order using the instructions provided for navigating about your BIOS program. The adjustments in the example BIOS above are made under the Boot menu.

Because each BIOS setup utility is unique, the location of the boot order options differs from computer to computer. The menu option or configuration item may be referred to as Boot Options, Boot, Boot Order, and so on. The option could also be found in a generic menu such as Advanced Options, Advanced BIOS Features, or Other Options.

Step 3: Navigate to the BIOS Boot Order Options.
Locate and browse to the BIOS boot order choices.

Image of a BIOS Setup Utility Boot Menu
Boot Menu of the BIOS Setup Utility (Hard Drive Priority).
It will look like the screenshot above in most BIOS setup utilities.

Any bootable devices connected to your motherboard, such as your hard drive, floppy drive, USB ports, and optical drive, will be mentioned here.

The order in which the devices are listed determines the order in which your computer searches for operating system information—the “boot order.”

With the sequence shown above, BIOS will attempt to boot from any devices it considers “hard drives,” which usually implies the computer’s integrated hard drive.

If no hard drives are bootable, BIOS will check for bootable media in the CD-ROM drive, then attached bootable media (such as a flash drive), and finally on the network.

To change which device boots first, navigate to the BIOS setup utility panel and alter the boot order. In our example, the + and – keys are used to modify it.

Keep take mind that your BIOS may have different instructions!

If you’re certain that your BIOS configuration is missing a boot order option, consider updating the BIOS to the most recent version and checking again.

Change the Boot Order in Step 4
The boot order will then be modified.

Image of a BIOS Setup Utility Boot Menu
Boot Menu of the BIOS Setup Utility (CD-ROM Priority).
As you can see above, we’ve changed it from the Hard Drive shown in the previous step to an example CD-ROM Drive.

BIOS will now seek for a bootable disc in the optical disc drive before attempting to start from the hard drive, as well as any removable media such as a floppy drive or flash drive, or a network resource.

Make any necessary boot order modifications, then go to the next step to save your settings.

Step 5: Save Your BIOS Modifications
You must save the BIOS adjustments you make before your preference will take effect. To do so, navigate to the Exit or Save and Exit menu using the instructions provided by your BIOS utility.

Exit Menu from the BIOS Setup Utility
Exit Menu from the BIOS Setup Utility
In this case, we’d select Exit Saving Changes.

Step 6: Verify Your Changes
Confirm the modifications and exit BIOS. You’ll most likely get a confirmation window like the one below, so click Yes.

A BIOS Setup Utility Save and Exit Confirmation Screenshot
Save and Exit Confirmation in the BIOS Setup Utility
This Setup Confirmation message can be cryptic at times. Although the example above is quite straightforward, I’ve seen several BIOS change confirmation inquiries that are so “wordy” that they are frequently difficult to grasp. Read the message carefully to ensure that you are saving your changes rather than quitting without saving them.

Your boot order modifications, as well as any other changes you made in BIOS, have now been saved, and your machine will restart automatically.

Step 7: Turn on the computer.
Begin the computer using the revised boot order. When you restart your computer, BIOS will try to boot from the first device in the sequence you chose. If the first device in the boot order is not bootable, your computer will attempt to boot from the second device in the boot order, and so on.

Example of a Screenshot Prompt to Boot From CD
Start from the CD Prompt.
As an example, in Step 4, we set the first boot device to the CD-ROM Drive. As seen in the screenshot above, the computer is attempting to boot from the CD but first requests confirmation. This only occurs on some bootable CDs and does not appear when booting to Windows or other operating systems from a hard disk. The most typical purpose for changing the boot sequence is to boot from a disc such as a CD, DVD, or BD, thus I included this screenshot as an example.


This guide will show you how to use the built-in BIOS utility to change the boot order of your computer’s peripherals. Follow these instructions to set the primary boot device to a USB flash drive/stick or a CD/DVD. If you ever wish to alter these settings back, use the keyboard shortcuts found in the BIOS. Always remember to save your modifications before exiting the utility.

To boot from a CD, DVD, or USB device, ensure that the device takes precedence over the hard drive in the boot sequence.

BIOS (Basic Input Output Subsystem) is a programmable chip that controls how data is transmitted to various computer system devices. During the boot phase, hit ESC, F1, F2, F8, or F10 to enter the BIOS settings panel.

BIOS configuration allows you to boot from a floppy disk, a hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, or an external device. You can change the order in which your computer searches for these physical devices during the boot phase.

The device at the top of the order list has the highest boot priority. To boot from a CD-ROM drive rather of a hard disk, for example, prioritize the CD-ROM drive above the hard drive.

Plug a USB device into a USB port before changing the boot priority.

To specify the boot sequence, use the following syntax:

1. During the initial launch screen, press ESC, F1, F2, F8, or F10 to exit the program. A menu may show depending on the BIOS manufacturer.

2. Select the BIOS setup option. The BIOS setup utility page is displayed.

3. Using the arrow keys, navigate to the BOOT tab. The system devices are listed in order of priority.

4. To prioritize a CD or DVD drive boot process above the hard drive, move it to the top of the list.

5. To prioritize a USB device’s boot procedure over the hard drive, perform the following:

Place the hard drive device at the top of the list of boot sequences.

Expand the hard drive device to see all available hard drives.

Move the USB device to the top of the hard drive list.

Save your changes and quit the BIOS setup software.

6. Restart the machine with the new settings.

Options for Boot Priority

Some computer manufacturers provide a separate device selection menu from which you can select the device containing the boot sequence. The following example makes use of a Dell system board.

Using a device selection menu, establish boot priority as follows:

1.When the computer boots up, following the manufacturer’s ID screen, repeatedly press F12. The device selection menu is displayed.

2. Use the up and down arrows to choose between a CD-ROM and a USB Flash Drive.

3. Press ENTER to boot from the specified device.

It should be noted that using an improper BIOS setting can result in a system malfunction. Please refer to the BIOS handbook that came with your computer motherboard. If you read these instructions and are unsure how to modify a setting, it is best to leave it as the default.

This guide applies to PCs, laptops, desktops, and tablets running Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, or Windows 7.

It is compatible with all major computer manufacturers (Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Lenovo, Samsung).

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