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How to Boot Computer from CD or USB Flash Drive?

Sometimes you need to boot your computer from a bootable CD or USB flash drive. For example, if you're troubleshooting your computer or installing a new operating system, you'll need to boot your computer from a system repair or installation disk. In this tutorial we'll show you how to do it.

Most recent computers have a boot menu. The boot menu enables you to choose the boot mode. You can follow the steps listed below to enter boot menu and boot your computer from CD or USB flash drive.

Boot Menu

1. Insert bootable CD or USB flash drive.
2. Power on or reboot.
3. Press Boot Menu Key, usually Esc or F12 when the display starts.
4. Select CD/DVD or USB option, and then press Enter key.

The first two steps are self explanatory. Step 3 is just a matter of knowing the right key to press. Step 4 could be somewhat confusing because not every PC manufacturer uses the same terminology to describe the boot device. You can search the boot menu key(s) of your computer below.

The tables below offer assistance with step 3. The "Boot Menu Key" column shows the known boot option keys for various computer manufacturers. When you are trying to get to the boot menu, reboot and press the first key repeatedly as soon as the display flashes or is no longer blank. If that does not work, reboot again and press the next listed key immediately after the display becomes active. After you enter the boot menu, you need to choose the CD/DVD or USB device option. Usually, this device is listed as "CD-ROM", "USB" or sometimes "Patriot Memory".

Most computers also allow you to change the boot "priority" in BIOS so that the CD or USB flash drive is preferred over the local hard drive. The "BIOS Key" column shows which key can be used to enter the BIOS setup menus in order to change the boot device sequence. You can follow this tutorial to change the setting: BIOS Settings for CD/DVD or USB Flash Drive

Manufacturer Type Models Boot Menu Key BIOS Key
Acer Esc, F12, F9 Del, F2
netbook AspireOne F12 F2
netbook Aspire Timeline F12 F2
netbook Aspire v3, v5, v7 F12 F2
Asus desktop F8 F9
laptop Esc F9
laptop R503C F8 DEL
netbook Eee PC 1025c Esc F2
Compaq Presario Esc, F9 F10
Dell desktop Dimension, Inspiron, Latitude, Optiplex F12 F2
desktop Inspiron One 2020, 2305, 2320, 2330 All-In-One F12 F2
laptop Inspiron F12 F2
laptop Precision F12 F12
eMachines F12 Tab, Del
Fujitsu F12 F2
HP generic Esc, F9 Esc, F10, F1
desktop Media Center Esc F10
desktop Pavilion 23 All In One Esc F10
desktop Pavilion g6 and g7 Esc F10
desktop Pavilion HPE PC, h8-1287c Esc Esc
desktop Pavilion PC, p6 2317c Esc Esc
desktop Pavilion PC, p7 1297cb Esc Esc
desktop TouchSmart 520 PC Esc Esc
laptop 2000 Esc Esc
notebook Pavilion Esc F10
notebook ENVY, dv6 and dv7 PC, dv9700 Esc Esc
tower Pavilion a410n Esc F1
Intel F10
Lenovo desktop F12, F8, F10 F1, F2
laptop F12 F1, F2
laptop IdeaPad P500 F12 or Fn + F11 F2
netbook IdeaPad S10-3 F12 F2
NEC F5 F2
Packard Bell F8 F1, Del
Samsung F12, Esc
netbook NC10 Esc F2
ultrabook Series 5 Ultra and Series 7 Chronos Esc F2
Sharp F2
Sony VAIO, PCG, VGN F11 F1, F2, F3
VGN Esc, F10 F2
Toshiba Protege, Satellite, Tecra F12 F1, Esc
Equium F12 F12

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