Change the Boot Order in BIOS

Restart the Computer and Watch for the BIOS Setup Message

Screenshot of an example of a POST (Power On Self Test) Screen
Power On Self Test (POST).

Changing the boot order of the "bootable" devices on your computer, like your hard drive or bootable media in a USB port (e.g. flash drive), floppy drive, or optical drive, is very easy.

The BIOS setup utility is where you change boot order settings.

Turn on or restart your computer and watch for a message during the POST about a particular key, usually Del or F2, that you'll need to press to ...enter SETUP. Press this key as soon as you see the message.

Don't see the SETUP message or can't press the key fast enough? See my How To Access the BIOS Setup Utility guide for lots of tips and tricks for getting into BIOS.

Note: The boot order is a BIOS setting so it's operating system independent. In other words, it doesn't matter if you have Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, or any other PC operating system on your hard drive or other bootable device - these boot sequence change instructions will still apply.

Enter the BIOS Setup Utility

Screenshot of a BIOS Setup Utility Main Menu
BIOS Setup Utility Main Menu.

After pressing the correct keyboard command from the previous step, you will enter the BIOS Setup Utility.

All BIOS utilities are a little different so yours may look like this or it may look completely different. No matter how your BIOS setup utility appears, they are all basically a set of menus containing many different settings for your computer's hardware.

In this particular BIOS, the menu options are listed horizontally at the top of the screen, the hardware options are listed in the middle of the screen (grey area), and the instructions for how to move around the BIOS and make changes are listed at the bottom of the screen.

Using the instructions given for navigating around your BIOS utility, locate the option for changing the boot order.

Note: Since every BIOS setup utility is different, the specifics on where the boot order options are located varies from computer to computer. The menu option or configuration item might be called Boot Options, Boot, Boot Order, etc. The boot order option may even be located within a general menu option like Advanced Options, Advanced BIOS Features, or Other Options.

In the example BIOS above, the boot order changes are made under the Boot menu.

Locate and Navigate to the Boot Order Options in BIOS

Screenshot of a BIOS Setup Utility Boot Menu
BIOS Setup Utility Boot Menu (Hard Drive Priority).

The boot order options in most BIOS setup utilities will look something like the screenshot above.

Any hardware connected to your motherboard that is able to be booted from - like your hard drive, floppy drive, USB ports, and optical drive - will be listed here.

The order in which the devices are listed is the order in which your computer will look for operating system information - in other words, the "boot order."

With the boot order shown above, BIOS will first try to boot from any devices it considers "hard drives" which usually means the integrated hard drive that's in the computer.

If no hard drives are bootable, BIOS will next look for bootable media in the CD-ROM drive, next for bootable media that's attached (like a flash drive), and finally it will look on the network.

To change which device to boot from first, follow the directions on the BIOS setup utility screen to change the boot order. In this example BIOS, the boot order can be changed using the + and - keys.

Remember, your BIOS may have different instructions!

Make Changes to the Boot Order

Screenshot of a BIOS Setup Utility Boot Menu
BIOS Setup Utility Boot Menu (CD-ROM Priority).

As you can see above, we've changed the boot order from Hard Drive shown in the previous step to the CD-ROM Drive as an example.

BIOS will now look for a bootable disc in the optical disc drive first, before trying to boot from the hard drive, and also before trying to boot from any removable media like a floppy drive or flash drive, or a network resource.

Make whatever boot order changes you need and then proceed to the next step to save your settings.

Save Changes to the BIOS Setup Utility

Screenshot of a BIOS Setup Utility Exit Menu
BIOS Setup Utility Exit Menu.

Before your boot order changes take effect, you will need to save the BIOS changes you made.

To save your changes, follow the instructions given to you in your BIOS utility to navigate to the Exit or Save and Exit menu.

Locate and choose the Exit Saving Changes (or similarly worded) option to save the changes you made to the boot order.

Confirm Boot Order Changes and Exit BIOS

Screenshot of a BIOS Setup Utility Save and Exit Confirmation
BIOS Setup Utility Save and Exit Confirmation.

Choose Yes when prompted to save your BIOS configuration changes and exit.

Note: This Setup Confirmation message can sometimes be cryptic. The example above is pretty clear but I've seen many BIOS change confirmation questions that are so "wordy" that they're often difficult to understand. Read the message carefully to be sure that you're actually saving your changes and not exiting without saving changes.

Your boot order changes, and any other changes you may have made while in BIOS, are now saved and your computer will restart automatically.

Start the Computer With the New Boot Order

Screenshot of an Example Boot From CD Prompt
Boot from CD Prompt.

When your computer restarts, BIOS will attempt to boot from the first device in the boot order you specified. If the first device is not bootable, your computer will try to boot from the second device in the boot order, and so on.

Note: In Step 4, we set the first boot device to the CD-ROM Drive as an example. As you can see in the screenshot above, the computer is attempting to boot from the CD but is asking for a confirmation first. This only happens on some bootable CDs and will not show up when booting to Windows or other operating systems on a hard drive. Configuring the boot order to boot from a disc like a CD, DVD, or BD is the most common reason for making boot order changes so I wanted to include this screenshot as an example.