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How to Set Computer to Boot from USB Drive

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jun 14, 2024 • Filed to: Windows Computer Solutions • Proven solutions

Gone are the days when Windows systems can only be booted from a CD/DVD. Now, users can create a bootable partition on their USB flash drive and use it at the time of need. If your system has been crashed or is not able to boot in an ideal way, then you can change its booting source to a USB drive. In this way, you can easily boot your Windows PC from the attached USB flash drive. Read on and learn how to do the same in two different ways.

How to Get Access to the Computer’s Boot Menu?

If you are lucky, your computer will have a boot menu, and you need to find it. Follow these steps to get access to the computer’s boot menu.

NOTE - Most of the desktops are either shipped with Windows 8 or 10 uses, also known as UEFI-based desktop. On such desktop’s you can always find an advanced boot menu option.

Method 1: Set the Computer to Boot from a USB Drive via BIOS

This is the most common way to boot a Windows system from a connected USB drive. Every system has a BIOS (Basic Input Output System) option that users can access. In this way, they can customize the BIOS settings and set the attached USB drive as a primary source for booting. You can access the BIOS options by pressing the BIOS Entry key when the system is turning on. The key can be different from one system to another. Here we can press F12 to enter PhoenixBIOS:

  1. Firstly, you need to turn on your computer. If it is already switched on, then you can restart it.
  2. As it would turn on, you need to press the designated BIOS entry key on the keyboard. You might have to press the key a few times to access the BIOS options. Additionally, you can view the key on the booting screen as well.


  1. Shortly, the BIOS options will appear on the screen. Since your mouse won’t work on the interface, you can have to navigate using the allocated keys. Usually, the arrow keys are used to navigate, ENTER to select, and ESC to exit. You can also view the shortcut keys and their allocated jobs at the bottom of the screen.


  1. As you can see, the interface has different tabs. Using the arrow keys (left and right), you need to navigate the "Boot" section.


  1. As you can see, the interface has different tabs. Using the arrow keys (left and right), you need to navigate the "Boot" section.

Step 5: From here, you can see the priority of the sources used by the BIOS. Now, using the + (add) and the – (minus) key, you can prioritize the Removable Devices at the top.


  1. After setting the USB device as the primary booting source, you can save your changes by pressing the F10 key.


  1. Accept the changes and exit the interface by pressing the ESC key. Connect a bootable USB drive to the system and be used as a primary source by BIOS.

While the approach is the same, the overall interface and the keys can differ from one model to another. Nevertheless, by following these simple steps, you would be able to boot your computer from a USB drive without any trouble.

Manufacturer Model BIOS Entry key
HP HP and Compaq Desktop PCs (Built-in 2006 or later (came with Vista or Windows 7)) F10
HP HP and Compaq Desktop PCs (Built before 2006 (XP or earlier) ) F1
HP HP Notebook PCs F10
DELL Dell Inspiron, Dell Dimension, Dell Precision, Dell Optiplex, Dell Vostro Dell XPS F2
DELL Dell Latitude Fn+F1
Acer Aspire, Power, Veriton, Extensa, Ferrari, TravelMate, Altos DEL Or F2
Gateway DX, FX, One, GM, GT, GX, Profile, Astro F1
Gateway Older model F2
Lenovo Lenovo F2
Fujitsu, NEC, Sharp Fujitsu, NEC, Sharp F2
Toshiba Portégé, Satellite, Tecra, Equium F1 or ESC
Toshiba Toshiba Equium F12
Shuttle Glamor G-Series, Do, Prima P2-Series, Workstation, X Mini XPC, Surveillance F1 or DEL
Phoenix Phoenix BIOS F2
AMD (Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.) AMD® (Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.) BIOS F1
Award Award BIOS DEL
AMI (American Megatrends, Inc.) AMI (American Megatrends, Inc.) BIOS DEL

Method 2: Set Computer to Boot from USB Drive via Boot Option Menu

Besides accessing the BIOS user interface, users can directly go to the Boot Options Menu as well. Just like a BIOS Entry Key, most of the systems also have a Boot menu key that can be used to select the primary booting device. Though, before you proceed, you need to ensure your system follows legacy support for booting.

Additionally, you should also be familiar with the Boot menu key on your computer. Here are some popular options:

By following these simple solutions, you can easily learn how to boot a computer from a USB drive. You can try either of these options and set the desired booting source for your computer. Go ahead and give it a try. If you face any problems, let us know about them in the comments below.

Manufacturer Laptop Desktop computer
HP F9 or ESC F12
Acer F12 ESC
Lenovo F12 F12
Thinkpad F12 F12
Asus Esc F8
MSI F11 F11
Samsung F12 F12
Microsoft surface Pro Volume- Volume-
Sony Esc Esc
Toshiba F12 F12
Fujitsu F12 F12
Gateway F12 F12

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What Should I Do if the Computer Doesn't Boot from the USB Drive?

If your computer doesn't boot from the USB drive, there may be several reasons why, such as a faulty USB drive, incorrect BIOS/UEFI settings, or a corrupted bootable image. Try the following troubleshooting steps:

  1. Ensure that the USB drive is properly inserted into the USB port.
  2. Try a different USB port or computer to rule out any hardware issues.
  3. Check the BIOS/UEFI settings and ensure that the USB drive is properly selected as the first boot device.
  4. Check if the bootable image on the USB drive is corrupt or incomplete and try creating a new bootable USB drive.
  5. If all else fails, check with the manufacturer's support website or forums for any known issues or solutions.


With the right kind of information and devices, it will not be difficult to install an operating system through USB. USB is one of the most reliable and best options when it comes to installing software.

However, you must keep a backup of important files because when you burn the ISO file on it, all the files and data will disappear. In case you lost your data; Wondershare Recoverit software will revive all your data back. All you have to do is download and install the tool in your system and leave the rest to the recover it tool.

Recoverit author

David Darlington

staff Editor

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