How to Change the Boot Order On Your Computer

February 20, 2009

in computer hardware,computer performance,Windows

by Tina Gasperson

Chances are your computer is set to check your main CD drive for a bootable CD at boot time, and if there’s not one there, to boot from your main hard drive. Most of the time, that’s exactly what you want and there’s no need to change the order in which your computer looks for booting instructions. But if you wanted to run an alternative operating system from a memory stick, you’d need to tell your computer to look there first for its “marching orders,” so to speak.

To change the boot order, restart your computer and before it boots fully, enter the BIOS configuration. (If you’re planning to boot from a memory stick or other removable device, make sure it is plugged into the computer already and all necessary drivers have already been installed.) Depending on the manufacturer, you can enter the BIOS by pressing a key or combination of keys. Watch your screen for instructions on which key(s) to press. After you’ve pressed the correct key sequence, the BIOS setup window appears. You won’t be able to use your mouse here, only your keyboard as directed by the instructions on the screen.

BIOS configuration

BIOS configuration

Make your way through the menu items by using the arrow keys. The menu configuration is different depending on your manufacturer, so look for a menu item such as Boot Configuration, or Boot Order. Select it and press Enter. Now, you’ll see a list of all the drives on your computer, including any installed and plugged-in removable drives. To change the order, you can select the drive you want to move higher in the boot priority and then click the up arrow key. When the drive is where you want it in the list, decide what should be second, third, and so on. When you’re done, look in the menu for the save option and select it, then exit the BIOS configuration. Your computer will then boot from the drive you placed at the top of the boot order priority list.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.