How to Boot HP Computers from a USB Drive: The Complete Guide

How to Boot HP Computers from a USB Drive

How to Boot HP Computers from a USB Drive: The Complete Guide

Booting your HP laptop or desktop computer from a USB drive opens up a whole new set of capabilities. You can troubleshoot problems, install operating systems, reset your PC, and even recover data using a bootable USB drive. 

While the process requires some technical steps, it’s not as challenging as it may initially seem. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to create a bootable USB drive and correctly boot your HP device from it. 

An Overview of the Boot Process

When you turn on your computer, it goes through a boot process to load the operating system. This involves a series of steps to initialize hardware components and load system files from the designated boot drive. 

By default, your HP device is configured to boot from the main hard drive where Windows or other OS is installed. However, you can change the boot order and select a USB drive as the first boot device instead.

Booting from USB allows you to access special recovery tools, diagnostics, or even install a new OS from the files contained on the USB drive. Let’s understand how to prepare a USB drive for this process.

Step 1: Getting Your HP Device Ready

Before creating the bootable USB drive, you need to make sure your HP laptop or desktop supports booting from USB. Most modern HP devices have this capability, but it’s worth verifying. 

You also need to check the BIOS settings to ensure USB booting is enabled. Here’s how:

  1. Restart your HP device and press the key to access BIOS settings. This is usually F10 or F12, but can vary. 
  2. Navigate to the boot options and ensure USB boot is enabled.
  3. Also check whether UEFI or legacy mode is selected, depending on your needs.

Once you’ve verified the settings, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Preparing the USB Drive

The USB drive is the core component that makes the boot process possible. Follow these steps to prepare a bootable USB drive:

  • Use a blank 8GB or 16GB USB drive. This ensures enough space for most OS installations.
  • Download the ISO file for the operating system or bootable software you want to use.
  • Use Rufus tool to write the ISO onto the USB drive and make it bootable. 

Rufus is a lightweight utility that does the hard work of properly formatting the USB drive and making it ready for booting. 

Launch Rufus, select your USB drive, add the ISO file, and write the image onto the drive. You’ll get a bootable USB drive within minutes.

Step 3: Changing the Boot Order in BIOS

Now that the bootable USB drive is ready, you need to configure your HP device to check the USB drive first when booting up.

1. Access the BIOS settings again during startup by pressing F10 or F12.

2. Go to the boot options and change the priority to boot from the USB drive first. 

3. Move USB drive to the top of the boot order list and save changes.

This ensures your HP device will load files from the USB drive when restarting next.

Step 4: Booting from the USB Drive

Insert the prepared bootable USB drive into your HP device and restart it. 

As it restarts, you’ll see an option to press a key to bring up the boot menu. Press F9 or F12 as soon as you see the prompt. 

This will display a list of bootable devices. Use the arrow keys to select your USB drive and press Enter to boot from it.

That’s it! Your HP device will now load files from the USB instead of the main internal hard drive.

Troubleshooting Common Boot Issues

In some cases, you may encounter issues while booting from the USB drive. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • If the USB drive doesn’t show up in the boot menu, restart and press the boot menu key multiple times to retry
  • Check that the USB drive was created correctly for UEFI or legacy boot mode as per your BIOS
  • Try plugging the USB drive into a different port 
  • Disable Secure Boot in the BIOS if your device has that setting enabled
  • Recreate the bootable USB drive using a different tool like Media Creation Tool

With some persistence, you’ll be able to resolve most boot issues. Refer to HP, OS, and USB drive documentation as well.

Reaping the Benefits of Bootable USB Drives

As you can see, when made correctly, a bootable USB drive can be extremely useful. Here are some benefits and use cases:

  • Diagnose and fix problems with PC hardware or operating system.
  • Reset Windows password or troubleshoot start-up issues.
  • Cleanly install Windows, Linux, or other operating systems.
  • Securely erase disk contents for data protection.
  • Recover data from corrupted drives using data recovery software.

In summary, being able to boot from a USB drive vastly expands what you can do with your HP laptop or desktop. Keep this guide bookmarked and refer to it whenever you need to create and use a bootable USB drive.

Author Profile

jason matthew
jason matthew
Jason Matthews is a highly regarded technology journalist and the esteemed editor of, a leading online platform dedicated to all things related to computers, USB keyboards, and other essential peripherals. With a profound passion for the intricacies of technology, Jason has spent years immersing himself in the ever-evolving world of computer hardware and peripherals.

Jason's expertise lies in his ability to decode complex technical jargon and present it in a manner that is accessible to readers of all backgrounds. His in-depth knowledge of the latest advancements allows him to provide insightful analysis, comprehensive product reviews, and practical guides, ensuring that remains a trusted resource for technology enthusiasts and beginners alike.

With an unwavering commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements, Jason prides himself on his ability to anticipate emerging trends. His meticulous research, attention to detail, and dedication to delivering accurate information have solidified his position as a trusted authority in the field. Through his contributions to, Jason continues to empower readers, enabling them to make informed decisions in the dynamic world of technology.

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