Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How to boot from a CD

There may come a  time when you may need to boot from a CD — to run a ‘pure’ antivirus scan, or repair Windows, or some such thing. I have referred to this in a few prior how-to articles, and I told you that (during the boot) you will be presented with a small line of text that says “press any key to boot from CD….” And that is true if you have set your boot order in your BIOS.

Tip of the day: Set your BIOS boot order allow optical disc booting. What is a “BIOS”? Your computer’s BIOS is a very basic set of instructions that tells your machine where to look for a keyboard and mouse and an operating system. It runs when your machine is first powered on. To make changes in the BIOS, you’re going to interrupt the boot process before Windows loads, so you need to use a keyboard that is plugged into the PS/2 port on the back of the machine, and not a wireless one.

Step 1) Reboot your machine, and get ready to act quickly. Very early you will see a little bit of text that says, “hit F2* to enter setup.” (*Different manufacturers use different keys; F2 is the most common, but it may be the Esc key, or F10.) Rapidly hit the suggested key several times, and enter “setup” — this is your BIOS control panel. The screenshot below shows a fairly common BIOS screen; but if yours looks different don’t worry, the steps are basically the same.
Step 2) As you can see by the menu at the bottom of the screen, you cannot use a mouse to navigate here. You will use your arrow keys and the the – and + keys (upper row, not numberpad) to make your changes. Hit the right-arrow key three times to get to the “Boot” tab.
This poor quality screenshot shows a fairly typical default boot order, except for the last option — a network share (let’s ignore that one). What this tells us is that the machine will look, first, for an operating system on the floppy drive. If it does not find the code there, it will then look to the hard drive. If it doesn’t find the code there, it will look to the CD. If it doesn’t find the code there … you will get a boot failure error.

Step 3) Typically, it will find the OS on the hard drive and so it will never look to the CD, and so you won’t see the “press any key to boot from CD..” option. To get this option, we need to change the ‘look to’ order from floppy >HD >CD to floppy >CD >HD. Use the down-arrow key to highlight the CD-ROM Drive, and then hit the + key one time to move it up. Or, highlight the Hard Drive and use the “-” key to move it down one … same thing.

Final step) Now we need to exit the BIOS Setup Utility and Save our change. In this BIOS you hit F10 to do this. In some BIOS’s, you hit esc to ‘exit’ and then you will be asked, “Save your changes? Yes No” with “Yes” already highlighted. Hit Enter.
That’s it, you’re done. Now whenever you boot your machine and you have a “bootable” CD in your CD/DVD drive, you will see the “press any key” option. If you don’t want to boot from the CD — you just forgot it was in there, say — just don’t hit any keys. The option will time out, and your BIOS will look to the next source (your hard drive) and boot from there.

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Copyright © 2007-8 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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August 3, 2007 Posted by | advice, antivirus, BIOS, computers, hardware, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | 163 Comments