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How Do I Boot from CD/DVD/USB in Windows 8 & 10?

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I burned DBAN to a CD and then rebooted my Windows machine with the CD inserted in the drive. To my surprise, it just booted right back into Windows. What gives? How do I get the computer to boot up from the CD?

This is a common problem for which the answer has become complex.

Your computer’s BIOS needs to be instructed to check for a bootable CD or DVD before it tries to load whatever is on the hard drive. Right now, your computer is configured to either ignore the CD/DVD, or check the hard disk first, at boot time.

The problem is that newer machines don’t have a BIOS; they have something called UEFI.

And UEFI makes things more complex.

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UEFI and Secure Boot

UEFI, an acronym for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, is a new type of BIOS that includes several enhancements. You’ll often see it referred to as “UEFI BIOS”, or even incorrectly as “BIOS”, because that’s what we’ve become used to.

One of those enhancements is something called “secure boot”.

Secure boot matters because there’s a glaring security hole that’s been present in almost every PC since day one. It’s very simple and very powerful.

  • If you have physical access to the machine,
  • and if you can reboot that machine,
  • and you can boot that machine from a CD/DVD or USB device,
  • then you can gain total access to that machine.

In fact, I often leverage this fact when people have lost their system administrator password. I’ve Lost the Password to My Windows Administrator Account. How Do I Get It Back? walks you through the steps to reset the administrator password by booting from a CD-ROM with the appropriate tools.

Secure Boot, when enabled, prevents this. It prevents changes in the boot order and can restrict booting to only “official” boot images.

Windows 8 and Windows 10 take advantage of UEFI and Secure Boot. That means that if your system has UEFI and Secure Boot turned on, then in order to boot from something other than the hard disk, you may need to turn Secure Boot off first.

Turning Secure Boot Off 

Right-click on the Start menu and hold the Shift key down while clicking on Restart.

Restart option
Restart options.

This will reboot into a “Choose an option” screen:

Choosing a Restart Option
Choosing a restart option.

Click on Troubleshoot and then on Advanced options.

Advanced Options
Advanced Options. (Click for larger image.)

I can’t tell you what comes next, because it’s different from machine to machine.

You may be able to modify the settings we care about by clicking on Startup Settings, if it’s present as shown in the image above.

If your machine uses UEFI, there may be an additional option: UEFI Firmware Settings. Click on that to go to the UEFI interface for your computer. The option to disable Secure Boot should be in that interface. You may need to check your computer’s documentation for its specific location.

Changing the boot order

Like BIOS before it, UEFI controls the boot order: which devices the computer tries to boot from and in what order.

Look for the settings to ensure that the USB or CD/DVD drive is earlier in the sequence than the hard disk, so the system will boot from your recovery drive before booting from the internal hard drive.

No CD/DVD drive?

What if you need to boot from optical media like a CD or DVD on a machine that has no CD/DVD drive?

The most common solution is to get a USB version of what you want to boot from. Many installers, recovery media, and emergency boot disks are now available in USB thumbdrive versions.

If all you have is optical media, however, you can get an inexpensive external USB CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive and configure your computer to boot from USB when needed. You’ll be able to use that drive for other things, and on any machine with a USB port.

Podcast audio

Play

Video Narration

Footnotes

Secure Boot Overview – Microsoft Technet

48 comments on “How Do I Boot from CD/DVD/USB in Windows 8 & 10?”

  1. All very well but how do you turn off secure boot if there’s a problem preventing the machine from booting in the first place and you can’t even get to the “Choose an option” screen?

    Reply
    • After your Windows fails to boot 2 times, it will automatically go there. Also, there is another way to go into it on most machines, for instance on Lenovo laptops can use the OneKey Recovery button in Off state to go into the firmware settings. Asus Desktop motherboards also have a button to directly go there.

      Reply
  2. At power-on there is a method to get into the “UEFI/BIOS setup.” It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer; Dell seems to like F12, while my new ASUS H81M-C motherboard uses Del. Then, on the ASUS, you select Advanced, boot options.

    Reply
  3. A friend found another way to boot from a non-UEFI drive. He has a new HP UEFI desktop and wanted to boot from an existing MBR SSD that had been running Windows 7 on a slightly older, but similar machine. In the BIOS, he simply (or maybe not-so-simply) disabled the GPT boot drive which contained the bootable system supplied by HP. This prevented the machine for using it as a boot drive, so the BIOS looked for another eligible device in the list, apparently settled on the SSD, and booted from it OK. He can still access the GPT drive for data storage from within Windows (7). I couldn’t begin to describe all the potential problems with this, but it’s working for him, and I suspect would work for any bootable medium, but may be BIOS-dependent.

    Reply
  4. Wow–must have done something wrong! Totally messed up now. Made the change as noted to disable UEFI and tried to reboot. Now says no operating system, nothing. Cannot get beyond DOS type msg with f2 or f12: no operating system. Can i swap drives or is this in the bios and I’m in big trouble?

    Reply
  5. On some of the recent Asus motherboards I encountered a few features that can make your life more difficult. To make the computer boot faster, the BIOS had a default setting of only allowing a USB keyboard to be acknowledged in the boot procedure. Every other type of USB device just would not be recognized until after Windows was booted completely.

    I was already familiar with the discussed procedures in this clearly written post that will help many, I have no doubt. But it got me frustrated that my system wouldn’t boot from my pen drive, even though the system was configured as described here. Until I found out about that BIOS option that might shave milliseconds of the boot procedure at best, my system remained dead in the water.

    Reply
  6. Forgot my password to sign in, Windows 8.1. Tried many things over past 24 hours. Created several usb flash drives from several online sources…, none worked. Found your site and tried the above solution. Still, no boot even though I disabled secure boot and set usb flash as priority 1 in boot order. So far, online, no help, Lenovo, no help, Microsoft account.live.com, no help. Seems like I have no options left. Any further suggestions?

    Reply
    • If you have your Windows login tied to an Microsoft account (Hotmail. outlook.com, live.com or msn.com) you can change your account login password and this should change it on your computer if your computer is online.

      Reply
      • I tried options at account.live.com, but have not received response emails or texts from Microsoft. Initially, they indicated an up to 24 hour wait. Chat specialist directed me back to same options and I tried them again, with same result. Chat specialist said if not 24 hours, then maybe 72 hours. LENOVO specialist has said I may have to reinstall Windows. This would be disasterous. Seems like I have the classic Catch 22 here. This is taking security a bit too far when I have to try to hack into my own computer. Every other online account provides a simple solution for a forgotten password. Microsoft can’t figure out how to solve this simply? Obviously, this is not a priority for them. This is crazy!

        Reply
  7. I need to get Ubuntu on my Lenovo Erazer desktop since I basically wanted the power of a gaming system to run my research code on. Checked the user manual and it says that you have to press F1 repeatedly on startup to enter the Setup Utility program and from there on select Startup->Boot Priority and then change the boot mode to Legacy Support (src: http://www.lenovo.com/shop/americas/content/user_guides/x700_ug_en.pdf). It might be safer to do that for the Erazer system since this is a pre-built system with warranty issues.

    Reply
  8. I was having issues trying to boot to a Linux CD, and it never game me the option to boot to the CD when the CD was in the tray. I see Ray beat me to the comment though. Switched the setting in BIOS to enable Legacy Boot and now its working like a charm.

    Reply
  9. Hi i have an acer aspire5315 with a 32bit and 2gb memory now its currnetly runing on win xp but how do you load win 8 on it pleas help…

    Reply
  10. Hi,
    i had same problem with HP Pavillion g6 notebook.
    Disabling Secure Boot it wouldn’t start from USB pen neither internal CD-ROM.
    I resolved enabling “Legacy Support” in BIOS features.
    Hoping to be a help to someone.

    Reply
    • i did booting by changing to legacy setting before 1 year in my girlfriend’s system and it worked..now same problem in my another friends system, i forgot about this legacy setting, remembered it after seeing your post.. thank you :).. she left me

      Reply
  11. I was just wondering… You are all talking about booting from a cd and going to bios to change the boot order. In my case though (Samsung laptop, windows 8) the laptop starts up, Samsung logo appears, and the laptop restarts after about 2 seconds. I cannot get into the BIOS no matter what I press. Though it appears to be a bad board or hard drive, this happened before and by pressing the F buttons chaotically, a couple times it has actually booted up. So I was wondering if there is any way to get into BIOS without having to use the F buttons? I called Geeksquad and the guy on the phone told me there is definitely a way to access it but he wouldn’t tell me unless I brought in to the store, which I didn’t want to do.

    Thanks for any help in advance!

    Reply
    • I would check your memory, okay not your memory, but your computer’s memory. Systems often respond this way when the RAM is faulty or has come loose in its slot. If you remove the RAM you will be able to enter the BIOS, but if it works without RAM, then it already solved your problem, the RAM would be faulty or loose in its socket.

      Reply
  12. I am trying to reinstall windows 8 on a dell desktop and it kept going to start up repair. I searched for a solution and unfortunately did not come upon this site first. The instructions said to disable secure boot and restart the computer. It left out the next instruction of changing the order of the boot drives. Now when I turn the computer on, I see the power light on the tower, no power light on the monitor and nothing happens. Nothing loads, just a black screen, f8, f2, f12, esc, nothing. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  13. I tried holding down the shift key and clicking restart. The system just starts a normal, the window you are showing does not come up.

    Reply
    • As I said, this varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer – check with the manufacturer of your computer for instruction specific to your model.

      Reply
    • I have no idea. As I mentioned, this varies dramatically from machine to machine – you’ll need to check with your machine’s manufacturer.

      Reply
  14. So I have been wanting to load ubcd from my usb, but I think I need to change the setting from enable to disable in the secure boot. Will I be able to enable the secure boot again? I don’t want to make the change and have it cause me more problems than I may possibly have.

    Reply
    • This depends on the specific computer, but secure boot can normally be turned back on. It’s also ok to leave it turned off, in my opinion.

      Reply
  15. im trying to dual boot Ubuntu on my Lenovo IdeaPad. I have the CD in. If I go to “Use a Device”, the CD won’t show up. I went into the UEFI settings, but the CD/DVD/BLU-RAY ROM doesn’t show up. I can’t add a boot device in the settings. What should I do?

    Reply
  16. My hp 255 if failing to boot from the USB DVD rom I first formatted the partition C now when I press F9 tho change the boot order the USB DVD rom won’t show up how do I fix this. Thank you in advance

    Reply
  17. I have a Windows 7 32 bit OS running on 64bit processor, now I’m planning to install Win 8.1 64 bit and everytime it start booting from win 8.1 dvd, it prompts BOOT from CD/DVD: and thinks for a while and starts my windows 7

    I’ tried differnt boot images from Microsoft and nothing works…. I’m stuck with stupid OS. Any suggestions

    Reply
  18. By far the hardest part of using Macrium is getting the damn computer to boot to a CD. I’m talking windows 8 of course.
    Does it do any damage or any good to just leave “secure boot” disabled?

    Reply
    • To be clear, that’s a feature not of Windows 8, but rather the PC itself and the UEFI BIOS – regardless of what OS you install.

      My opinion is that there’s near zero risk leaving secure boot disabled. In publicly accessible computers it might prevent someone from walking up and rebooting, say, a library computer into something malicious, but so far I’ve not seen a compelling case for it in the home. (Unless your kids regularly reboot into things you don’t want them to, I suppose.)

      Reply
  19. Hi Leo. I have the same problem of booting from a cd. I downloaded dban, burned it to cd thru Windows burner, but could not get my HP Pavilion to boot it. Thinking that maybe the Windows burner is the problem I then ordered a dban cd from ebay but it doesn’t work either. I have been working on this problem all day and have looked at many articles and videos on the internet. Your article makes the most sense. I was able to follow your instructions and I disabled the secure boot and changed the order so that usb/cd is now first. It still won’t boot from the cd. I am about to pull my hair out. I have read all the comments on your article and can’t see what else to do. Please help!

    Reply
  20. I removed the secure boot but no other options besides the one it already had popped up…. i cant boot from dvd with out creating a new way to do it, but i dont know how to… i bought a new 8.1 disk but because i am in safemode my computer will not read the cd to preform the necessary repairs to the boot file that i corrupted… i cant fix it with out me being able to read the dvd but it wont do it while being in safe mode and it will not do it on start up.. am i screwed?

    Reply
  21. In regards to your comment rules, I would say that not only do a lot of people just comment without reading the article, but I bet many more comment after merely skimming the article, which in my opinion is just about as bad.

    That said, thank you for this because I was at a total loss on how to get into the BIOS on Windows 10. The same steps worked for Windows 10 as you describe for Windows 8. I also didn’t even know about the shift key with restart.

    I left Secure Boot enabled but I changed the boot order to try CD first. I was able to get into my Ubuntu CD, so hopefully it will also get back into Windows 10.

    If not, I guess I will just have to stick with Ubuntu… Oh, darn… 🙂

    Reply
    • And to be clear: the BIOS (or UEFI) has nothing to do with Windows. It is software that is part of your specific computer that is present even before Windows (or any other OS) is loaded.

      Reply
  22. I not changed the Secure Boot turned option to on.
    and when i start my pc it just show the login screen but there password bar is not highlited or i can’t insert my password.
    and due to Secure Boot option it is not booting by windows 8 CD.

    Reply
  23. This is a copy of the relevant page of the Dell 8700 Users Manual. What is the difference between “Secure Boot Control” and “Secure Boot Mode”? And what on earth is “Legacy OPROM”?

    Numlock Key Select power-on state for numlock.
    Keyboard Errors Displays keyboard-related errors during boot.
    USB Boot Support Allows you to enable or disable booting from
    USB mass-storage devices.
    Boot Mode Allows you to select the type of boot.
    Secure Boot Control Allows you to enable or disable the secure
    boot control.
    NOTE: To enable this feature, the computer must be
    in the UEFI boot mode and the Load Legacy OPROM
    must be set to never.
    Secure Boot Mode Allows you to select custom (clear secure boot
    database) or standard (fixed secure boot policy)
    secure boot mode.
    Boot→ Clear Secure Boot Database
    Manage All Keys (PK, KEK,
    db, dbx) Displays the keys in the database.
    Delete All Keys Allows you to delete all the keys.
    Reset All Keys Allows you to reset all the keys.
    Load Legacy OPROM Allows you to load the legacy OPROM when in the
    UEFI boot mode.
    1st Boot Displays the first boot device.
    2nd Boot Displays the second boot device.
    3rd Boot Displays the third boot device.
    4th Boot Displays the fourth boot device.
    5th Boot Displays the fifth boot device.

    Reply
    • Not sure what “Secure Boot Control” is. Secure Boot is the feature of UEFI (the BIOS replacement) that prevents booting from unauthorized devices and/or media. “Legacy OPROM” would seem to refer to having the UEFI operate as if it were the older BIOS that did not have secure boot and could thus boot from anything.

      Reply
  24. please I’m using MacBook pro 2011model but I switch it to windows 8 and deleted os x partition. please how reinstilla os x back on it ?

    Reply
  25. Hi Leo
    HP Notebook PCs – System Information (F1) http://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c01443193
    This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with the HP Startup Support Environment.
    To access the UEFI System Information, turn on the computer and immediately press the esc key to display the Startup Menu, and then press the F1 key to view the system information.
    The (F1) System Information is also displayed in a different format within the (F2) System Diagnostics function. The fields of information displayed may be different based on the model.
    This is result I got
    Start up menu
    F1 System Information
    F2 System Diagnostics
    F3 Boot Device Options
    F10 Bios Setup
    F11 System Recovery

    Reply
  26. hi,
    i am using windows 7 so i want to upgrade to windows 8 and when i start the wndows 8 installstion process it says that you dont have not enough system partition so i format the system reserved partition,now my pc is not rebooting. so please help me to reboot it without cd or dvd if it is possible. i hope i will get a solution soon.
    Thank you

    Reply
  27. hi! I purchased an ASUS PC 2years ago it came with windows 8.1 I liked my old win 7 OS so I had them load win 7 on it. they also gave me a boot USB. it worked just fine for about 6 months when I had to put my PC into storage. it sat there for 1 and a half year. I started it up 2 days ago in win 8.1 with no sign of win 7…even programs I had installed are not accessible. need help to get win 7 BACK! thanx in advance.

    Reply
  28. Thank you JCA-AYS. I have a HP notebook which was suffering from the same and after findimg for 2 days I found ur comment. Thank you very much happy after fixing my pc.

    Reply
  29. If I have physical access to the machine and can reboot that machine, then usually I can press the magic key (Del, F2, F11, whatever) to get in to system setup and then I can disable Secure Boot and enable “Legacy Boot” or “CSM” so I can boot from another device. Therefore unless the user has set up a password for the setup program (unlikely) Secure Boot does not solve the problem of having physical access to the machine. Even in that case, it is a simple matter to take out the hard drive and read it on another computer.

    Secure Boot can prevent the computer from booting from an infected external boot device, most likely a bootable flash drive. I don’t think this is a very common problem. Even if the drive was infected, most computers are set to boot from the hard drive first, unlike the old days where computers were set to boot from the floppy first.

    Secure Boot prevents the system from booting from “unauthorized” operating system loaders. This is a good protection if the Windows boot loader has been compromized by malware. However it is not so good if you want to boot from a CD/DVD/flash drive to troubleshoot or if you want to install some other OS.

    In my experience, what Secure Boot primarily does is make troubleshooting and repair a royal pain. In the quest for faster boot times, manufacturers have made the period of time you can press the magic key so short that it can be nearly impossible, and/or they have dumbed systems down by hiding any boot time messages that tell you what the magic key is and when you can press it ins the boot sequence. Since most of the boot time is due to the OS loading and not the POST/BIOS/UEFI, adding a second to make it easier to get in to setup would not be significant.

    This is a poor design decision, along with the idiotic change in Windows removing the ability to easily boot in to Safe Mode.

    Reply
  30. You guys are scaring me. I just bought a wd elements external hd and am creating a recovery disc on it as I write. I have NO idea from this article on how or what to do if my system crashes as there was no instruction booklet included with the hd and this article has so many different ways to boot a system I don’t have a clue.

    Reply

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