Have you decided to format the PC but can not start the Windows installation disc?
Are you trying to install Linux from a USB stick but you can not do it because the operating system that is already installed on your computer starts automatically?
Do not worry, just change the BIOS settings and the problem is solved.
How do you say?
Don’t you know what the BIOS is and how can you access it?
So we will try to clear up your ideas quickly. The BIOS (acronym of Basic Input-Output System) is a software that resides in a chip placed on the motherboard of the computer that contains all the instructions to start the operating system and to put the hardware in communication with the software.
To learn more and find out how to enter the PC BIOS at startup, take five minutes of free time and follow the directions we are about to give you: we assure you that it is much simpler than that you imagine.
Just a small recommendation before starting: try to understand what kind of BIOS is present on your PC. If you have a fairly recent computer, which was sold to you with Windows 10 or Windows 8.x pre-installed, you almost certainly have to deal with a PC with UEFI.
The UEFI (stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) is an evolution of the classic BIOS that has a graphical interface, has support for mouse and touch-screen and has some advanced security features that we will talk soon.
To access it, you must go to the Windows settings and click on the appropriate entries. If you have a rather old PC, there are no big doubts: you almost certainly have to do with the classic BIOS that can be accessed by pressing a key when the computer is turned on. Read further to learn more.
How to enter the UEFI
If you use a fairly recent PC equipped with Windows 10 or Windows 8.x, to access the BIOS you must go to the settings of the operating system and click on the items that we going to indicate.
This is due to the fact that your machine does not use the classic BIOS, but the UEFI, which as mentioned earlier is easier to use, supports the use of mouse and touch-screen and has some advanced features that we will talk about soon.
If you are using Windows 10, you can access the UEFI settings menu by clicking the Start button (the Windows flag located in the lower left corner of the screen) and selecting the Settings item from the menu that opens.
At this point, click on the icon Update and security in the window that has opened, select the item Restore from the left sidebar and press the button Restart now located under the entry Advanced.
Wait a few seconds for the Windows reboot and restore menu to appear and select the following icons: Troubleshooting, Advanced Options and finally UEFI Firmware Settings. Then press the Restart button and wait for the computer to restart.
After the restart, the PC will automatically enter the UEFI configuration menu. To move in the latter follow the instructions in the appropriate chapter of the tutorial (a few lines down).
Do you use Windows 8.x? In this case, the procedure you need to follow is slightly different. To access the UEFI configuration, go to Start, search for the term settings and select the icon of the PC Settings app that appears in the search results. In the screen that opens, select the item Update and recovery from the left sidebar and click on the Restart button now placed under the heading Advanced startup to restart the PC.
Then wait for the Windows startup screen to appear and click on Troubleshooting first, then Advanced Options, UEFI Firmware Settings and Restart to access the BIOS setup menu.
Change the UEFI settings
Now you are in front of the UEFI configuration panel: a screen, divided into tabs, in which there are all the settings on your computer.
Unfortunately, the menu structure is not the same on all PCs and therefore we will not be able to give you super-precise directions. In any case, we will try to explain ourself so that you can easily identify the options that interest you.
Let’s start by saying that to move in UEFI you have to use the arrow keys on the keyboard: Up / Down to select an option and Right / left to change its value, or to switch from one tab to another if the menu is selected up. By pressing the Enter key, you can select an option to change its value.
Now let’s move on to the various sections where the UEFI menu is divided. Given that the title of the cards may change depending on the computer in use, generally, the UEFI menu is divided in this way.
- In the Main tab there are settings regarding the date, time and information on the computer in use;
- In the Advanced tab there are advanced settings on processor (CPU), network, USB ports, etc.;
- On the Security tab, there are settings on the Secure Boot (when available) and the UEFI security password.
- On the Boot tab, there are options to change the boot device order and activate Legacy BIOS mode (when available);
- In the Save & Exit tab, there are settings to exit UEFI saving the changes made to its settings, not only to save them but to restore the factory values also.
The settings related to the Secure Boot, the Legacy BIOS and the boot devices are the most important for the installation of a new operating system (or its execution in “live” mode).
- The Secure Boot is a security feature of the UEFI that prevents the execution of operating systems without a digital signature. To disable it, and then allow running operating systems that do not have a valid digital signature (like many Linux distros), go to the UEFI Security tab, select the Secure Boot menu, go to the Secure boot option and set the latter on Disabled.
- The Legacy BIOS is a function that allows you to emulate the old BIOS on PCs equipped with UEFI. It can be useful to install all those operating systems that do not support UEFI (eg Windows 7). To set up the Legacy BIOS mode on your computer, you need to go to the UEFI Boot tab and set the Boot mode option to Legacy BIOS.
- The order of boot devices is what the computer is following to boot. This means that if you want to boot an operating system that you have on a USB stick, you have to set the boot order so that the USB port comes before the computer’s hard disk (so before the operating system installed on the PC). To change the order of boot devices, go to the UEFI Boot tab and set the Boot Option # 1 option to the device of interest to you.
When you have made all the desired changes to the UEFI of your PC, go to the Save & Exit tab, choose the Save Changes & Exit option and answer yes (yes) to the warning that appears on the screen to save changes and restart the computer.
Note: The functions to disable Secure Boot and enable the Legacy BIOS are not available on all computers.
How to access the BIOS
Do you use a fairly dated computer on which there is no UEFI but the classic BIOS? No problem, all you have to do to enter the PC BIOS at startup is to restart the computer (or turn it on, if it is off) and, as soon as the PC power on screen appears, repeatedly press the key to access the setup.
Usually, the key to access the BIOS is F2, F10 or Del, in any case, you should find it indicated in one of the corners of the computer’s home screen with a message like press F2 to enter setup.
At this point, you should be in the BIOS settings panel: a screen with a blue or gray background filled with text (incomprehensible if you are not an IT expert). Entries can change from computer to computer, but typically the BIOS settings are divided into standard sections.
In Main, there are the date/time settings and general information on the PC; in Security you can set passwords for accessing the BIOS and starting the PC; in Advanced ( Advanced or Boot ) you can adjust video card settings, language, boot order, etc. while in Tools you can find other settings.
To adjust the BIOS so you can boot the Windows installation disk automatically when you turn on your computer, you need to go to the Advanced or Boot section (using the arrow keys on your PC keyboard), highlight the Startup/Boot sequence entry and press the Enter key to change the order of devices that the computer must control to boot.
Then set the CD/DVD ROM drive as your first choice, for this highlight the entry for it and press the Enter key on your computer keyboard, and then press Esc to return to the main BIOS screen.
When changes are made, you can exit the panel and save the BIOS settings by pressing the Esc key on your computer keyboard. Then highlight the Yes entry in the message about saving the settings that appears in the middle of the screen and press Enter to exit the BIOS and restart the computer.
Now everything should be back in place and the Windows disk (or any other system you want to install or try in “live” mode) should start automatically.
Note: if you use Windows 8.x or Windows 10 and you can not get into your computer’s BIOS, the fast boot function is probably enabled, which will not let you completely shut down your PC.
To bypass the problem, click on the Windows flag located in the lower left corner of the screen, hold down the Shift key on your PC keyboard, click the Stop icon on the Start menu and select the Shut Down item.
In this way, the computer will shut down completely and you will be able to enter the BIOS as explained above, ie by pressing F2, F10 or Del during its power up.