Tips for configuring your BIOS settings to work with Windows To Go

Tips for configuring your BIOS settings to work with Windows To Go



Overview

Windows To Go is a new feature in Windows 8 Enterprise Edition that enables users to boot a full version of Windows from external USB drives on host PCs. See the Windows To Go Step by Step wiki article for instructions about creating a Windows To Go drive. Once the drive is created, you will need to boot it on a host computer. PCs certified for Windows 7 or Windows 8 have hardware that is compatible with running Windows To Go.

If the host computer is running Windows 8, there is a setting called Windows To Go Startup Options that configures the computer to boot from USB.  However, if you only want to boot from USB one-time only or are using a host computer running Windows 7 you will need to configure the BIOS settings manually to enable the computer to boot from the Windows To Go drive.

The method that you use to configure the BIOS setting differs based on the computer manufacturer. This article is sharing the methods for some of the manufacturers that we have tested Windows To Go with, but are not guaranteed to match precisely to any given configuration. If your computer doesn't provide the options described, check with your computer manufacturer for any BIOS updates that might be available.

Hotkeys and BIOS configuration

You enter the BIOS settings for your computer before the operating system starts through using what is called a "hotkey" - these are function keys that have been mapped to utilities by the firmware manufacturers. The following table provide a reference to some well-known hotkeys:

Brand

Destination

Hotkey

Dell

BIOS Utility

F2

Boot Menu

F12

HP

BIOS Utility

F10

Note: Pressing ESC will bring up a menu with all hotkey options

Boot Menu

F9

Lenovo

BIOS Utility

F2 or blue “Thinkpad” button

Boot Menu

F12

Toshiba

BIOS Utility

F2

Boot Menu

F12

Acer

BIOS Utility

Notebook: F2

Desktop: DEL

Boot Menu

F12

Sony

BIOS Utility

Press F2, select the 2nd option

Boot Menu

N/A

Samsung

BIOS Utility

F2

Boot Menu

F10 (Not always implemented)

Asus

BIOS Utility

DEL

Boot Menu

N/A

 

How To configure your host computer BIOS settings to work with Windows To Go

  1. Shut off the computer.
  2. Insert your Windows To Go drive into a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 port on the computer. (Do not use a USB hub)
  3. Start the computer and be ready to press the correct hotkey for your computer.  Press it one to three seconds after pressing the power button but before the Windows loading screen appears.
    • For one-time use of Windows To Go, press the hotkey to access the Boot Menu and select your USB drive.  This will boot directly into Windows To GO for only this boot sequence.  The first use of a Windows To Go drive on a specific computer may cause an automatic reboot; if so, repeat this step.  Some computers will not support this method and will require that you change the boot order in the BIOS
    • For repeated use of Windows To Go, press the hotkey to access the BIOS.
  4. Once in the BIOS, navigate to the option that controls the boot order (this may be under "Boot" or "System Configuration" or "Storage").
  5. There should be a list for “Boot Priority.”  Place your USB drive at the top of this list (USB drive may be listed under either a “USB” title or under its manufacturer’s title).  If the option is unavailable, continue on to 6.
  6. Check for USB boot support.
    • Some systems have USB boot disabled by default.  You should be able to enable this from the current “Boot” tab.
    • Some systems have “boot grouping” and you must disassociate the USB drive to allow USB boot.  You can modify this from HDD/Hard Drive Properties.

Tips

  • If you have a computer with Windows 8 installed, use the “Launcher” tool (Win+W) to set your computer to boot from your USB drive instead of following this guide.
  • Pressing “Ctrl+Alt+Del” at any point in the startup sequence before the Windows Logo appears will restart the machine from the beginning.  Do this if you believe you have missed your window of opportunity to access the BIOS or have arrived at an incorrect location.
  • Modifying the BIOS incorrectly can cause harm to your machine.  If at any point you think you have made an incorrect modification, exit the BIOS without saving your changes and begin again or select an option to restore the BIOS to default settings.
  • Many of the timings for the hotkeys to access the BIOS are hard to hit.  It may help to press the hotkey multiple times to increase your chance of success.

 

References

What the BIOS Is and How to Access it on a Dell™ Computer - KB Article - 148562
Updating the BIOS - HP
How to access the BIOS - ThinkPad
How to update the BIOS on Toshiba notebooks
Acer Service and Support
How to access, modify, or exit the BIOS setup utility on a computer. - Sony
How To Use the BIOS Setup Utility - Samsung
ASUS Service

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  • Good guide.

  • Good guide.

  • I appreciate the information very helpful!

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