By default, your computer will boot from the operating system installed on the hard disk. However, sometimes you may want to boot from another external device or from another operating system. Windows uses a firmware (BIOS or UEFI) to initialize and assign the boot sequence for your computer. You can change the sequence in this firmware to boot from any supported device. In addition, there is also a System Configuration app which you can use to change the boot sequence without accessing BIOS/UEFI.
System Configuration App Vs BIOS/UEFI
Sometimes your internal hard disk’s C drive might got corrupted and you want to boot the system from USB or from another external drive. Old computers use BIOS (Basic Input Output System) while latest computers use UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) as a firmware. You can enable the boot devices in BIOS/UEFI and here are some of the devices you can use for booting:
- Internal hard drives
- External drives like hard disk or USB
- From installation CD/DVD
- Boot from network devices by enabling PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment)
The sequence or the order is important that your computer will start checking the available devices for booting based on the assigned sequence in BIOS/UEFI. On other hand, you may use multiple operating systems on the same computer. For example, you currently use Windows 11 as the primary OS but also use Windows 10 on the same PC loaded from another partition of the hard disk. In this case, you do not need to go to BIOS/UEFI, Windows allows you to choose the OS for booting using System Configuration app. You can also use this app to change the default booting sequence in your computer without accessing BIOS/UEFI setup.
Change Boot Sequence and OS from System Configuration App
- Click the search icon on the taskbar and search for “system configuration”.
- Find the System Configuration app from the list and open.
- Go to “Boot” tab to find all bootable options available on your computer.
- Select the operating system or bootable drive from the list and click “Set as default” button.
- If required, you can enable safe boot, set timeout and make the settings permanent.
- Click “Apply” and then “OK” button to boot the system from the selected OS or device.
Change Boot Sequence from BIOS/UEFI Setup
In our earlier article, we have explained different ways of accessing BIOS/UEFI setup utility in Windows 11. The easy method is to press F2 or F10 or Delete key while starting which depends on your computer setup. However, if that does not work you can access BIOS/UEFI from Windows Settings app.
- Press “Win + I” keys to open Windows Settings app and go to “System” section.
- Scroll down on the right pane and click on “Recovery” option.
- Click “Restart now” button showing against “Advanced setup” option.
- At this point, make sure to connect the device from which you want to boot the system. Save all your work and confirm the pop-up to restart your computer and go to advanced startup settings.
- When you are in the startup section, click “Troubleshoot” option.
- Select “Advanced options” in the next screen.
- Now, select “BIOS/UEFI Firmware Settings” option. This option may look different on your computer depending upon the setup. Make sure to select the item relevant to accessing firmware.
- Finally, click “Restart” button to access BIOS/UEFI setup page.
The BIOS/UEFI settings interface depends on your computer’s manufacturer and firmware version you use. Below is the UEFI setup screen in our case and you can navigate through the settings using keyboard arrow keys or with mouse.
Find the “Bootable Device” section where you should find all the bootable devices detected by the system.
- HDD – this will show your primary hard disk and booting from HDD is enabled by default. Generally, HDD is the first option in the sequence allowing your system to boot from the primary hard disk.
- USB or external drive – here you will see the name of your external bootable drive. If you are not finding the device, then your system is not detecting the Windows installation in the connected device. For USB drive, follow this guide on how to create a bootable USB from Windows ISO file.
- CD/DVD – connect the installation CD/DVD to show that in the list.
- PXE – here you will see all bootable devices from your network. Remember, you should enable “PXE Device Enable” option and restart your computer to see the list of network devices.
Check the bottom or sidebar of your BIOS/UEFI screen on how to use utility. You can find the relevant keyboard shortcuts to move, assign and save the values in the screen. Generally, you can use + key to move the item up and – key to move the item down in the boot sequence. Press the enter key to open the options and enable/disable the particular device. You can enable only device and move it to the first item in the list to boot from that device. When you enable multiple devices, system will look in the sequence and boot from the first available device.
After making changes, press F10 to save and exit the BIOS/UEFI interface. Your computer will restart and try to detect the first device in the boot sequence. When it detects the device with proper Windows installation, system will boot from the device.