USB only boots in other computers instead of mine

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Problem :

I don’t have an operating system in my laptop, my CD-ROM was broken a long time ago, and for some reason, my USB won’t boot. I keep receiving an error message about my BIOS not detecting any OSs while the USB boots just fine on other computers.

I tried pressing F12 to select devices, but nothing happens.

Is there a way to make my USB bootable again? Or is there another way to boot my laptop?

Solution :

My USB won’t boot

I am going to assume that this means an USB pen drive (and not a USB printer, USB scanner, USB network card….)

This can have several reasons:

  1. The device is not bootable.
  2. The deivce is not bootable unless it was present early.
  3. The computer does not support booting from that type.
  4. The computer does not support booting from that type via a specific port.
  5. The BIOS fails to recognise it at all.

1) Is not the case else it would not work on other computers.

2) Some BIOSses will not list a device then the bootable devices list (which I assume your BIOS has F12 assigned to) unless it is present before you power on. TO make sure this is not the case:

  • Insert bootable device (e,g. the USB pen drive).
  • Power up.
  • Press F12 and hope you can select it

3) Booting from an USB device was not standard on some older laptops (think P2 era). Confirming that this is possible without knowing which specific laptop you have is not possible.

Also, it is possible to turn ‘legacy USB emulation’ on and off in most BIOSses. This means that it may be supported but turned off. Seach your BIOS for the USB options and add those to the post.

4) There are quite a few modern laptops out there (and I assume ditto for desktops) which will not boot from an USB-3 port. Try using a USB1 or and USB2 port. Most of the time you can recognize this by selecting an USB port which is not blue.

5) Option 5 is bad. No way to recover. Either boot from something else (e.g. PXE) or ake the HDD out and install it on a different system. The last is trivial for most operating systems, but if you run windows you might need to sysprep the disk before moving it back to the original laptop.

I tried pressing F12 to select devices, but nothing happens

F12 is not the correct key

Sony VAIO, PCG-Series, VGN-Series:

  • Press F1, F2 or F3 after turning on the computer.

Source BIOS Access Keys for Sony, Lenovo, Toshiba, Dell, Gateway, and More!

You need to change your boot sequence. Some laptops require you to prioritise the boot sequence.

Make it in this order:

  1. Removable devices
  2. Hard Drive
  3. CD-ROM If this option can be disabled then do it

Other option is to obtain a USB-to-SATA interface (Cheap enough on Ebay) and boot from a desktop CDROM drive connected to this and a 5v/12v psu. That will almost always work even if flash ram boot will not.

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