How to Change the Boot Sequence in the BIOS

Looking to change the boot order for your Windows XP or Vista machine? By changing the boot order, you can force your computer to boot from a CD/DVD drive, a floppy drive, or even off the network.

Changing the boot order on a PC is mostly done in order to boot from a recovery disk or from an OEM disk to run some kind of Windows repair software, such as the Recovery Console.

So here are the steps to change the boot sequence for a PC:

Step 1: The first thing you have to do is restart your computer and enter the BIOS. You can enter the BIOS when you see a message such as “Press FX to enter setup” or something similar.

On a Dell machine it’s usually F2, Toshiba is F1 or ESC, HP is F1 or F2, and IBMs usually require you to go to Start, Programs and then Thinkpad CFG to start up in the BIOS.

Step 2: Now that you are in the BIOS, the tough part is finding the boot order section. Note that there are not a ton of options in a BIOS, so just go through every page if you have to until you see something like First Boot Device, Boot Order, Boot Management, Boot Sequence, etc.

change boot order

It may also be under Advanced BIOS Features or Advanced Boot Options. In the above screenshot, it’s under Advanced BIOS Features. Use the arrow keys to navigate.

change boot sequence


As you can see, there is a First, Second and Third Boot Device. Scroll down and use the arrow keys to change the device to HDD (hard drive), Floppy, CDROM, or Network. You could also have a BIOS that looks like this:

change boot order sequence

The instructions for changing the boot order are in the sidebar, but usually it requires pressing the + or – buttons to move items up and down in the order list. The first item in the list is what will be scanned first when booting. If boot media is not found, it will try the second device and so on.

Finally, go to Exit and make sure you choose Yes to the Save configuration changes and exit now? question.

bios boot order

That’s pretty much it! If you have any questions or can’t get into the BIOS on your computer, post a comment here and I will try to help! Enjoy!

Comments [28]

  1. My original HD crashed and I'm trying to set-up this one, but it is not even loading up anything, the screen just stays blank. Any help?

  2. I was succeful at entering the BIOS and navigating to the Advance BIOS Features but the boot sequence had been replaced(?) with other information. Can I get the boot sequence to display by doing something else?

  3. On HP desktop Vista home Premium…Phoenix-BIOS-CMOS on boot screen it lists two options, when I set CD/DVD to run 1st. then I reboot and Vista resets original config.

    I am trying to use drive scrubber boot disc from CD drive.


  4. I have to install windows 7 on my system running xp, but my boot sequence is not changing. As I enter in Advance bios features..the priorities wr shown..1st is removable device, priority 2nd is hard drive, priority 3rd is cd rom priority. using instruction and using + or – to move 3rd one to 1st, still its not able to move.

  5. I have my laptop of compaq presario V3700 series .Can i upgrade my windows home vista to windows 7 and then will the drivers wil be installed at own.

  6. I have a dimension 8400 and windows xp. My old internal hard drive (C:) is dying. I installed a new drive (D:), with C intact. I re-installed windows xp on my pc, this time to D. C is SATA 0, D is SATA 3. SATA 1 and 2 are not present. The first jumper plug goes to C, the 2nd (furthermost) to D. I can only boot my pc if I keep the above configuration, with both drives enabled. My goal is to get rid of drive C and keep only D. Suggestions? Thank you!

  7. I have windows xp on a dimension 8400. My old internal hard drive (C) is dying. I installed a new internal hard drive D, with C intact. C is SATA 0, D is SATA 2, SATA 1 and 3 are not present. The first jumper goes to C, the furthest jumper goes to D. I've installed windows xp on D. My pc only boots if I use the above configuration, with both drives enabled. My goal is to remove drive C and use only D. Suggestions? Thanks!

  8. I've changed the boot sequence to have the CDRom 1st. But when I go to the boot manual by pressing F12, the boot manual still lists the Floppy disk as the 1st boot item. When I try to move up and down the boot manual, nothing moves! Pressing the + or -, page up or page down on the keyboard also did not work. Why?

    Could you or anybody advise me how to boot from my CDROM?

  9. How do I know if changing the boot order worked? Changing the boot order only boots 1st by what you specify, and then if that doesn't contain boot files, then it boots off another drive, internal or external, etc…
    Does my pc contain a log file where I can see where it was booted from when I last started the pc??? Otherwise, I don't know where it booted from. I have a HP laptop computer and I changed the boot order by hitting F10 when computer was starting up, and changed the order to boot from the external drive 1st. If that drive doesn't contain the boot files, will it try other drives and boot from the one that has them.

    I copied the System32 files to the external drive and tried to boot from it after I changed the boot order. How do I know where the laptop booted from???

  10. How do I disable changes to the BIOS settings after I've created a password? Is there a way to completely lock an outside person from accessing the drive? I know how to disable loading from a USB and floppy, but how do I keep them completely out of BIOS?

    Also, is there a way to prevent BIOS password reset if the jumper or CMOS battery is removed?

  11. I have rearranged the boot order to Hard drive first, USB floppy second, followed by CD ROM and other removable devices. I, then, save the configuration and restart the PC, but to my surprise the screen displayed "No bootable device, insert boot disk and then press any key." I got the boot disk but I am afraid I might lose some of my data, which is important.

    What else can I do? Please, I need your reply urgently.

  12. Is there away to reset this? I set my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd boot device to my cd-rom, cd-rom, hard drive, and now my graphics card isn't booting. I can't see anything on my monitor(s), so how do I change my bios settings?

  13. CD/DVD ROM is not in my boot preference list. How can I include it?

    Please reply fast.

  14. Thanks for the Phoenix BIOS screenshot. That was exactly what I needed to figure out how to change my boot order.

  15. Hi, there.

    Does anybody know that in Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 my BIOS does not start any system? I tried Windows Vista, XP, 98, 95, maybe NT, 2000, ME or 7, but they would never start Windows. Does anybody know about this issue?

  16. I do have to try again. Do not read the first message I posted.

    I have got a big problem. In Microsoft VPC 2007 (Virtual PC 2007), it does not start any OS (Operating System). I did go through that New Virtual Machine Wizard. I tried reinstalling. I have done it 3 times in the past 2 or 3 days but it just will not start every single time. The problem tells me that I have to insert the proper boot device. I am running Windows 7 on my proper HOS (Host Operating System) but I always had to troubleshoot the thing. I installed fresh, but it will not start! I try to find viruses because it can be called BREAKBOOTDISKVIRTUALVIRUS.exe OR SOMETHING ELSE.

    Please read before you tell me how to fix it.

    I will see you chaps every day and I will tell you what I can do if that does not work.

  17. I want to change the boot hard drive from Drive 1 to Drive 2. In BIOS the system allows you to change the boot device order from, say, the CD Drive to an internal hard drive but it does not seem to enable you to change the internal hard drive from Drive 1 to Drive 2. Can you advise, please.

  18. In my Dell PC I wanted to install WIN XP Pro in place of WIN XP Home. The files from OS Installation CD are copied and when the computer restarts it proceeds to boot the original OS from HDD.

    In BIOS I selected CD ROM as first boot device. I get the message ‘ not installed’. How to enable it.


  19. my keyboard stops working as soon as i go to BIOS! is there any option to change these settings after windows starts?my problem is that my keyboard works only before and after entering the boot menu or BIOS, can you help me please?
    thank you v.m.

  20. Wow, so many people worrying and asking for help that never came! Asking for someone to answer quickly and no one came! How sad. I know not ask for help on this page!! Computers can be stressful! …that's why I went out and invested in a Mac. No more messes like this-however I do have a Windows machine that is giving me a headache but Im in no hurry to repair it. Sadly, I won't get any info I need on here..

  21. thew contents in phoenix BIOS setup utilities are not same as in my lapy

    i hav samsung’s lapy

  22. hi friends i was setting up bios on toshiba portege m200 i beleve i disabled some of things in the bios now when i press f1 the bios wont open what can i do

  23. I have two hard drives in my pc. Every time I restart the computer it tries to boot from the HD without windows installed on it. Basically I have to change the HD boot order in the BIOS everytime I start up the PC. Any ideas?

  24. I disconnected my floppy drive from the computer. Now when booting up, the BIOS says Floppy Drive error (40). I know that I can disable the boot process for the floppy drive so that the BIOS while booting does not look for the drive that I disconnected. However, I do not understand how to do that.

  25. I was wondering which menu option would be the one to work, seeing as I can only boot from the hard drive, and not USB or cd(but I want to). It looks like I have the right options, just nothing seems to work. My bios version is ACRSYS – 1.

  26. Very pleased with the step by step instructions. My desk top is now up and running perfectly …. thanks

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