Is your computer having problems booting up to your operating system? Maybe you are looking to install an operating system from scratch. Either way, you'll need to be able to boot from a CD. I am going to show you how to boot your computer from a CD to recover or reinstall your operating system.

Things You Will Need

In order to change the boot order, all you need is a working CD drive and a keyboard.

Step 1

Enter BIOS
In order to boot from a CD, you'll need to enter BIOS. BIOS is the basic input/output system that is used to determine how the computer will be started up. It is in here that you will find how to change the boot order so that you boot from a CD.

Different computers all have different keystrokes to enter BIOS. The key to get to the BIOS boot screen is to look right when the computer starts for an option called Boot Setup, Setup, or BIOS. For instance, my computer is an eMachines that starts with a big "e" logo, and in the bottom-right corner, it says Setup.

When you see that message, press the key.

Step 2

Look for "boot sequence" or "boot order"
Again, BIOS is different among computers. You have to use the arrow keys on your keyboard and look around for the words "boot order," "boot sequence," or "boot device." When you've found it, you'll most likely highlight the item and hit enter.

Step 3

Move the CD drive to the top
If you're at the right section of BIOS, there should be a list of various storage devices that can be booted from. The CD drive should be listed here. If it is not, the system is not properly recognizing your device, and you will probably need to get it replaced. In all likelihood, it will be visible.

If the CD drive is listed at the top, congratulations! You don't have to do anything. Put your CD in the drive and exit BIOS using the keystroke found within somewhere on the menu.

However, if the CD drive is not listed at the top, you need to get it there. This is, once again, a moment where it is frustrating that not all BIOS operate the same way. To change boot order, you will likely do one of three things:
  1. Press SHIFT to move individual items around the list.
  2. Select drives in order of priority through pulldown menus.
  3. Highlight items in the boot order and use arrow keys to move them up or down.
Once the CD drive is the top priority item, make sure you SAVE your settings before you exit BIOS. Then, just plop your CD right in the drive and it should load upon the next startup!

By changing the boot order to have the CD listed on top, you will now be able to use third-party startup diagnostic tools, install your own operating system, and recover already-installed operating systems by using recovery CDs that are shipped with computers. To save yourself time for when something bad happens, keep CD at the top of your boot order. Happy computing!

Tips & Warnings

Remember to save before you exit BIOS. Also, be careful not to toy with unfamiliar settings in BIOS - doing so could damage your system.