Booting from a USB flash drive tends to be easier on some computers than on others. In an ideal situation, you hook up your USB stick to the computer, press the power button, use the Esc key or some other function keys (F2, F9) or combination of keys to get to your one-time boot device selection page, use the arrow keys to move to your desired boot device and hit enter to boot from the selected device.
That was likely not your story if you are reading this post. Maybe you have gotten through some of these steps already, but on getting to your boot device selection page, you couldn’t find the desired USB flash drive which you have perfectly hooked up to the computer. This can be quite frustrating for sure, but before you go about trying to fix your computer or the USB stick, it’s important to note that such problems are not necessarily due to any faults with the USB flash drive or your computer.
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There are times when your default BIOS or UEFI settings do not allow your computer to recognize certain attached devices on your USB ports. I will not go into much detail on the differences between the BIOS and UEFI firmware as that is not the objective of this article. However, is important to touch a bit on the differences in the booting styles of both firmware types so as to create a context for the solution described below.
Put simply, both BIOS and UEFI are different firmware types that come embedded to the microprocessor of your computer to perform hardware initialization and boot up your operating system. With BIOS being the older and more popular of the two.
The UEFI firmware type is more recent and as you would expect, it is much more improved and feature-packed than the traditional BIOS firmware. BIOS booting is a simplified booting system where you simply tell the firmware which device to boot from and it goes on to boot from the selected device. For UEFI booting, such a booting strategy defined in the BIOS firmware is only one of the boot modes called the BIOS Compatibility Mode.
Beyond that, the UEFI advances to interpreting concepts like ‘disk partitions’, ‘bootloaders’ and even ‘operating systems’. As such, it does not merely hand over booting to a selected boot device as the BIOS does, but also capable of some more sophisticated functions.
For an everyday user, these are likely not so relevant, more often than not, your concern is to get to your desktop environment and fire up your programs, or like in this case, to have your computer boot from your desired disk drive, who cares what happens between the press of your power button and that.
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As such, not having your computer display any of the attached USB devices in the boot device selection page is a common problem in the more recent computers with the UEFI firmware. The more recent Pavilion series of Hp laptops are typical for this kind of problem. Of course, you can also face this issue with other laptop brands.
The approach described below would work equally fine for any computer brand or model experiencing a similar issue. However, for this case study, I will be using this Hp Pavilion 15.
So here I have a bootable USB flash stick with Windows installation files. You can check this
When I connect this USB to the laptop and boot it up, then try to follow the instructions on the screen to boot from the USB, first I see this screen below that says Boot device not found, please install an operating system to your hard disk.
Then I use the Esc key to get to the start-up menu. Here it presents me a list of options associated with different function keys.
I want to get to the boot devices so I will hit the F9 key. Then I’m faced with the screen below which shows no devices in the boot options menu even though I have my bootable USB connected to the laptop.
To solve this problem, from this window, press F10 to get to your BIOS set-up utility page and you will see a page like this.
Use your right arrow key to move to the System Configuration tab, move down to boot options and hit enter.
Then you will see a page like this.
Now move down to where it says legacy support, here you will discover that your legacy support option is set to disable and to be able to boot from USB devices on startup, you want to set this option to enabled.
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To do that hit the enter key to display a list of possible options, then use your arrow key to move to enabled and select yes in this dialog box and hit enter.
Then using your arrow key, go down to your USB device under the UEFI boot order. Here in my case is the USB Diskette on Key/USB hard disk. Now use the required function key to move the USB device to the top of the boot order, here I will be using the F6 key, so I will hit the F6 key until my USB device is on top of the UEFI Boot Order, then I will use the F10 Key to save an exit, then hit yes on this dialog box.
Now you may see this DOS page like asking you to enter a certain code and hit the enter key to complete the process.
Here I will enter 8242 and hit my enter key to complete the process, and as soon as I do that my laptop starts loading the Windows installation file which I have in my flash stick and from there I will continue with the normal Windows installation process.
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Hope this was able to help you out. If you have any questions regarding these procedures, please post in the comment section to get more help. The video below demonstrates the suggestion discussed above.
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UPDATE 2: Sometimes GParted and KDE Partition Manager do not format your USB properly. Then you can use linux program called Disks. It will do the job to wipe out everything in USB.
UPDATE: Trying to boot from USB iso third time gave following error: USB 5-5 device descriptor read/64, error -71 and solution was found in here:
By adding the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/options (I did not have an options file there, it had a different name):
options usbcore use_both_schemes=y
computer recognized USB stick and it solved this problem.
When I tried to re-do an install to the same Acer Aspire One, it did not succeed.
After multiple attemts and hours of research, I did find a writing that said that other USB devices connected to ports near USB stick may cause the computer not recognize the USB iso-stick.
I had a mouse connected to port next to USB stick and removing the mouse everything worked again: Computer recognized the USB .iso and started from it.
I have been struggling for ten years with the problem that an older computer BIOS does recognize my USB .iso file. I just today found the answer from a wiser man than I and I want to share this with all of you. The writer of this article also missed the main point, that this advice won’t work if your computer only has legacy boot mode available.
Here is how to do it properly:
If your computer has only LEGACY boot mode (like in my old Acer Aspire One), the USB stick has to have a MBR (Master Boot Record) partition type before making a .iso installation (boot) file.
If your computer is in UEFI boot mode, the USB stick has to be formatted to have a GPT (GUID Partition Table) partition type.
So in short: if your USB has a GPT partition table, it won’t work in legacy-computer, and if your USB has a MBR-partition table, it won’t work in UEFI-computer (might work since UEFI is the new standard and may be backwards compatible).
THE SOLUTION IS: Change partition table type (MBR vs GPT) of the USB to correspond the boot mode of the computer (Legacy vs UEFI).
In Linux you can change partition table type of the USB stick in GParted or KDE Partition Manager and your problem is solved: Your computer now recognizes the USB stick!!!!