How to or can't boot from a CD or DVD

Updated: 04/01/2018 by Computer Hope

Computer CD-ROMTo boot from the computer, place the bootable CD or DVD into the CD-ROM drive, reboot the computer, and the computer should detect the bootable CD and boot from the disc. If the computer is loading to an error message when attempting to boot to the CD or loads into Windows instead, you may be encountering any of the below situations.

Need to press a key to boot to CD or DVD

Some bootable CDs, such as the Microsoft Windows CD prompts for you to press any key to boot from the CD. If no key is pressed, the computer will continue to boot normally and not load from the CD. Make sure to pay close attention to the screen as the computer is starting and press a key if prompted.

CD or DVD is not bootable

Not all CDs and DVDs are bootable. To boot from a CD, you must have a CD that is stated to be bootable. Keep in mind that early Windows 95 CDs are not bootable. However, Windows 98, ME, XP, and later CDs are bootable.

Not set up properly in CMOS setup (BIOS)

If the CMOS is not properly set up, the computer may ignore or not look at the CD-ROM or DVD as a bootable option. Open CMOS setup and verify your boot sequence settings are properly set to boot from the CD-ROM drive. These settings will be under the boot options. We suggest that you have your boot options setup similar to the example below. If all else fails, make your CD-ROM or ATAPI CD-ROM the first bootable option.

  1. Floppy or LS120 (if available)
  2. CD-ROM or DVD-ROM
  3. Network (if available)
  4. Hard Drive

If CD-ROM is listed after another device that is bootable, it will boot from the other device before the CD-ROM. Verify that the devices before CD-ROM, (e.g., floppy drive) has no bootable media in them. Bootable media includes your hard drive, which will always be bootable, unless it is blank or empty.

Disc drive not selected from the boot menu

Boot menuOn many computers, as the computer is booting you may need to enter the boot menu (e.g., may see Press F9 for boot menu). If this option is available, press the key to enter the boot menu and then select the option to boot from the CD-ROM or DVD drive.

Tip: If you enter the boot menu and the CD-ROM or DVD drive is not listed as an option remove the disc from the computer, turn off the computer, press the key to enter the boot menu again. If the CD-ROM/DVD-ROM is not available, put the disc back into the computer and then choose the option to boot from the disc.

Bad CD or DVD

Verify the CD or DVD is readable by accessing it through Windows or by placing it in another computer to access it. It's possible that the CD or DVD is bad or not readable. If you determine the CD is getting errors when being read, try first cleaning the CD before looking for a replacement. For additional information about how to clean your CD and CD-ROM drive, see our computer cleaning page.

Jumpers not set properly

Not all disc drives will boot properly if the jumpers are not set properly. If applicable for your computer and disc drive, verify that the CD-ROM or DVD drive has the jumpers set properly. We recommend that you have the CD-ROM set as master on the secondary controller. This rule also applies to portable computers with removable disc drives.

Cables or other drive related issues

Some computers today have multiple disc drives, for example, a computer may have a DVD drive and another CD or CD-RW drive. If your computer has multiple disc drives, consider disconnecting one of the drives and use the other drive to try to boot from the disc.

With some IDE or ATA disc drives, if the drive is not connected as the first drive (first connection on the cable), it can prevent the drive from properly booting. If you've never been able to boot from a CD or DVD with this computer, consider checking to verify that the drive is the first drive on the cable.

Bad CD or DVD drive

Verify if another CD or DVD works in the drive. If the disc drive is bad, it will be unable to boot from the disc because it cannot read from the disc. If after doing this you, determine the drive is bad, it's recommended that you replace the drive.

Additional information