How Can I Boot From an SATA External Hard Disc Drive?

By C. Taylor

An eSATA connection enables external hard drives to connect with the same 6.0 gigabits per second (Gbps) or 3.0 Gbps speeds as internal SATA 6 and 3 connections. This enables external drives to work just as effectively as internal drives for accessing data and, in some cases, booting your computer. Not all BIOS supports booting from eSATA devices, but for those that do, you have the option of quickly changing boot drives to run varying operating systems or boot utilities without ever cracking open your computer.

Boot Menu

Step 1

Power on or restart your computer.

Step 2

Press "F10" or "Esc" repeatedly when you first see the manufacturer logo on the screen. Your computer may use a different keystroke or not support a boot menu at all. If your system supports it, a message should appear briefly stating the appropriate key combination to access the boot menu. If your system does not support a boot menu, you can configure the BIOS to boot from a supported eSATA port instead.

Use the arrow keys to highlight the eSATA external hard drive from the boot menu and press "Enter." If the eSATA drive is not listed, your system may not support booting from eSATA.

BIOS Configuration

Step 1

Power on or restart your computer.

Step 2

Press the "F2" or "Del" key repeatedly when the manufacturer logo appears. If your computer uses a different key combination, look on the screen for a message stating the appropriate key combination to enter BIOS or Setup. When you've successfully entered the key combination, a message typically appears stating, "Entering Setup," or something similar.

Step 3

Use your arrow keys to navigate the menu and locate a setting for boot order or sequence. This may be under a dedicated Boot menu tab, but its location varies between manufacturers and BIOS versions. If you have trouble locating it, consult your computer's instruction manual.

Step 4

Move the "eSATA" option to the top of the list. This may entail highlighting "Boot Order," pressing "Enter" and selecting "eSATA" from the first position, or you might use "Page Up" to move eSata up the list. This procedure varies between BIOS versions, but instructions typically appear on the right side of the screen.

Press "F10" to exit and save your settings. If you have a bootable device attached to the eSATA port, your computer will boot from it automatically. If no bootable device is attached, the computer attempts to boot from the next available source, such as SATA or an optical drive.