How to Force Windows to Boot From CD

By Qyou Stoval

Updated September 28, 2017

Most computers boot from the DVD/CD drive before starting Windows.
i computer image by blaine stiger from

There are a few reasons why Windows will not boot from a CD. For example, you could have recently replaced the hard drive and due to a technical error the computer no longer recognizes the CD drive. If you plan on reinstalling your Windows operating system, booting from the CD is required. Most computers boot from the CD-ROM drive first and the hard drive second before loading Windows. Depending on your computer model, you may have to change the settings in your BIOS to boot from a CD.

Access your BIOS setup menu. Each computer model has different ways to access BIOS. For example, a Dell may require you to press "F12" repeatedly before seeing the Windows logo to access the BIOS menu. Refer to your computer's manual to find out how to reach the BIOS or look in the top right corner of your monitor after restarting to find out what button should be pressed.

Navigate to the boot tab within BIOS to change the boot order. Your mouse will not work when accessing the BIOS, so look at the bottom of the screen to find out which keyboard keys are used to navigate.

Navigate to "Boot order." Your computer may list it as "Boot management" or other variations.

Change the setting to "CD-ROM drive" to be the first drive to boot when the computer starts. The navigation keys on a bottom of the screen will tell you which keys to press to change values. For example, some BIOS programs require you to press the plus or the minus key to change values.

Press the "F10" or "Escape" key based on your BIOS system to save the changes and select "Yes" if prompted to save changes.


Make sure the DVD or CD-ROM is clean as scratches may prevent the CD from booting. Press a key like "F7" or "F8," which, depending on the computer, may allow you to boot directly from the CD.