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How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

You can use installation media (a USB flash drive or DVD) to install a new copy of Windows, perform a clean installation, or reinstall Windows 10.

To create installation media, go to the software download website, where you’ll find step-by-step instructions. On that website, you can select a version of Windows and create your own installation media using either a USB flash drive or a DVD. To go directly to one of the versions, select one of these links:

Windows 10 (Then select Download tool now.)

Important: Back up your files before you install or reinstall Windows on your PC. Learn how for Windows 10 or for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

To create the installation media, here’s what you’ll need:

A PC with a reliable internet connection. The download time will vary, depending on your internet connection.

A USB flash drive or DVD. A blank USB flash drive with at least 8 GB of space, or a blank DVD (and DVD burner). We recommend using a blank USB or blank DVD because any content on it will be deleted. When burning a DVD from an ISO file, if you’re told the disc image file is too large, you’ll need to use dual layer (DL) DVD media.

A product key. Your 25-character product key (not required for digital licenses). For help finding it, go to Find your Windows product key.

After you’ve created the installation media, you can reset or reinstall Windows. To learn more, go to Recovery options in Windows 10.

How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

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How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

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    Technical Level : Basic


    Here’s how to rescue your files to external USB when WIndows won’t start. You can use the Command Prompt in Repair Mode or use bootable Windows installation media, Recovery Drive, or Repair CD.


    Files should always be backed up externally since the hard drive can die at any time and they will be unrecoverable. In addition back valuable files up to the Cloud in case of fire and to have the latest revisions.

    To rescue your files to external USB when Windows cannot start, you can use whichever method works here to access the Command Prompt from Boot, if necessary by booting your bootable Windows installation media, Repair CD or Recovery Drive.

    Insert the bootable Windows installation media or Recovery drive.

    Power up the PC , immediately and vigorously tap the BIOS Boot Menu Key to select the media to boot (as a UEFI device if offered) from menu like this:

    If it bypasses the Boot Menu then use the key from chart in same link to enter UEFI firmware or BIOS setup to turn off Fast Boot, and from within Windows you can also change Settings > System > Power & Sleep > Additional Power Settings > Choose what Power buttons do > Change settings that are unavailable > uncheck Fast Startup. See also Four Methods to Access UEFI BIOS Setup in Windows 8/10 PC/Laptop/Tablet

    At first screen press Shift + F10 to open a Command Prompt:

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    If this fails go to the next screen, choose Repair Your Computer,

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Then Advanced Options:

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Then Command Prompt.

    In Command Prompt type notepad.exe

    In Notepad, click File, then Open. This will open a Mini-Explorer that you can use to locate folders or individual files needing rescue, right click to Send to USB drive or DVD. During copying there will be no progress bar and PC will appear to be frozen. You only need to wait it out as it will unfreeze as soon as the copying is finished.

    For example from booted Windows 10 flash installer, I chose my Pictures folder which is 4.7 gb, Sent it to the same flash stick that was booting the PC. On a Core i5 Lenovo Laptop with 8 gb RAM, it took 10 minutes to copy the entire folder after which I could continue as needed.

    Before moving on to reinstall Windows, after you’re sure copying has finished, Close the command Box, remove rescue media, put it in another PC to check that everything is there – especially that no folder was only partially copied.

    Alternate Methods:

    If the mini-explorer in Notepad throws memory errors or doesn’t work, try one of these methods to copy files from the Command Prompt, starting with XCopy: How do you copy files from one drive to another drive?

    Alternative bootable rescue tools include Paragon Rescue Kit Free Edition

    To get to Hidden Files requires a Linux disk, or using CMD to unhide files then copy from CMD.

    If you have any doubts that you have everything you need, then be sure to read Clean Install Windows 10 which provides a complete checklist of everything that must be remembered to back up before reinstalling.

    You can also remove and slave the hard drive in another PC, or use a SATA to USB adapter.

    There is also a last-resort method to rescue files while installing although it results in less than a fully clean install because you cannot delete or even format partitions, only select C and click Next. This tells the installer to archive your User folders along with the entire previous install in a C:\windows.old folder where you can find them to copy out after install, then delete that huge folder using Disk Cleanup for System Files: Disk cleanup in Windows 10 – Windows Help –

    I hope this helps. Feel free to ask back any questions below and let us know how it goes. I will keep working with you until it’s resolved.

    Computer won’t boot and want to recover data stored on hard drive? Read this guide to see how to backup data from hard disk without OS.

    By Cherry / Last Updated November 16, 2020

    Then need to backup files from hard drive without OS

    There are so many accidents can destroy your OS and make your computer won’t boot. When you meet such a system crash problem, you can format the hard drive and reinstall OS to bring your computer back to normal. However, how about the data stored on the drive? You definitely do not want to leave them behind. Learn how to access hard disk data without OS in the next part.

    How to recover data from hard disk without OS?

    When the operating system on computer is broken or cannot boot, you just cannot access the hard drive data. Under such circumstances, you can try the following three methods to help you recover data from hard disk without OS.

    Method 1. Remove the hard disk to other working computers for backing up data

    If you want to backup data from hard disk without OS, you can connect the hard disk with other working computers. Then, you can backup data from hard disk without OS on this booting computer with Windows built-in backup tool, or the simple copy and paste, or some other backup software, just like backup an external hard drive.

    Method 2. Use Windows installer disc to boot the computer for backing up data

    If your computer cannot boot, then, backup data on the hard disk could be a very hard thing. But if you have a Windows installer disc, things would be easier. You can boot your computer through the installation CD and recover data from hard disk. Have no installation disc at hand? Well, you can refer to Method 3 to get a workaround method.

    Here we will take Windows 8 as an example. First, insert Windows 8 installer disc into your computer and restart it. If everything is working properly, you will see the message: “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.” like the following screenshot.

    Then, you need to press any key to move on. But if you do not see the message, you should get into your computer’s BIOS to change the boot settings so that it can boot from the installer disc. (Restart the computer and press BIOS key, usually, it’s Esc/Delete/F2 to access the BIOS menu.)

    When you move to Windows Setup screen, you should click Repair your computer if you are not planning to install system now.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Then, you should click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Then, it will display you the Command Prompt. Type notepad, press Enter. It will launch a Notepad window. Then, you need to click File and select Open in the Notepad Window.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Make sure that you select All Files in the Files of type (nearly at the bottom of the next screenshot, then, click Computer at the left pane. You can use this Open dialog as a Windows Explorer where you can select files to copy them to any other place like another external hard drive you connect with your computer before.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Once you are done with backup from the hard disk without OS, you can close the windows and shut down your computer.

    Notes: When you try to open the files or Notepad, do not double-click them, otherwise, it may be frozen. If the Notepad freezes on you, you can go back to the Command Prompt window and type taskmgr to launch the Task Manger, and you can end the frozen here and re-launch Notepad.

    Method 3. Use AOMEI Backupper to backup data from hard disk without OS

    If you do not have Windows installer disc, don’t worry, one free third-party software AOMEI Backupper Standard would help you to backup data from hard disk without OS.

    First, you need another computer installed with AOMEI Backupper, and an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. Here we use a USB hard drive. Plug in the USB drive to your computer, launch the AOMEI Backupper and use it to create a bootable USB. The bootable USB is able to boot any version of OS.

    Then, unplug the bootable USB you created before and plug it into your computer that contains the hard disk you want to backup data from, start the computer from the USB drive, and it will show you the main interface of AOMEI Backupper. Then, follow the steps below to backup data from hard drive.

    1. Click Backup and then choose Disk Backup.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    2. Then, choose the disk you need to backup.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    3. Then, select the destination disk to store the data. And click Start Backup to execute it.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    After the progress becomes 100%, click Finish to exit.


    That’s all for how to backup data from hard disk without OS. First you can try to connect the hard drive to another computer to access hard disk data. If it does not work, you can use bootable media to boot the computer and recover the data. AOMEI Backupper can help you create a bootable disc easily.

    By the way, AOMEI Backupper Standard also has many other features that you can use to keep data safe. You can create schedule backup task to help you backup your system, hard drive, partitions or files. In this way, you will never worry system crash in the future because the backup image can help you restore computer to an earlier date that works well as soon as possible.

    NOTE: If your computer has a Intel Clover Trail processor, its not compatible with Windows 10 versions 1703 to 2004. Those computers should continue to use Windows 10 1607, which will continue to receive support until January 2023.

    Please be sure to follow me on Twitter @adacosta for the latest tips, tricks and updates in the world of Windows 10. –

    Technical Level : Basic

    The Windows 10 20H2 Update is the latest revision of Microsoft’s desktop operating system. The previous version, called Windows 10 2004 was launched in early 2020. Users running previous versions of Windows 10 will be able to upgrade to the latest revision multiple ways. One of the most reliable and convenient ways is to use the ISO file. The ISO file provides the option of upgrading multiple systems especially for users with limited bandwidth. In this article, we show you how.

    If you prefer to upgrade using Windows Update, please review the following article for instructions:

    For users running previous version of Windows such as Windows 7, Windows 8.0 or Windows 8.1, you will need to purchase a license for the Windows 10, if you did not take advantage of the free upgrade offer (you might still be able to get it for free). For computers already running Windows 10 Home, Pro, Pro Education, Pro Workstation, Windows 10 S editions, Enterprise or Education versions 1507, 1511, 1607, 1703, 1709, 1803, 1809, 1903, 1909 you can upgrade to the latest Windows 10 Feature Update for free.

    If you are upgrading from older releases of Windows, review following links:

    Windows 10 Feature Updates are a part of Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to deliver Windows as a service.

    How to get the Windows 10 Creators Update ISO?

    The Media Creation Tool will be updated so you can download the latest version ISO containing the Windows 10 Feature Update. To learn more about how to download the ISO file, check out the following article:

    For troubleshooting instructions, please scroll down further.

    Starting the Upgrade

    Boot to the Windows 10 desktop. If you have the Windows 10 ISO, you can right click the ISO file then click Mount. If you are installing from a DVD or USB thumb drive, insert or connect it, then click the on screen notification. If setup does not start automatically, click Start > File Explorer > This PC > open the drive containing the Windows 10 setup files, then double click Setup.exe.

    After mounting the ISO file, right click the drive containing the installation files then click Open.

    Click Run setup.exe

    Click Yes to allow the installation to Start.

    Wait while setup is initialized.

    You can select download and install any important updates before upgrading. This is recommended since it can help to ensure a smooth upgrade. If you are not connected to the Internet, select the Not right now radio box instead. Click Next.

    Wait while setup checks for updates that might make the installation go smoothly.

    Wait while Windows 10 setup checks your system for compatibility issues.

    Accept the End User License Agreement.

    Wait while Windows 10 setup does one final check to ensure your system is ready.

    Windows 10 setup will check if you have enough disk space. If you don’t, review the following article for instructions how to upgrade to Windows 10 feature update on a system with limited disk space:

    Please note, you have the option of choosing what you would like to keep, which includes personal files, apps and settings.

    If you want to perform a new install or just keep your files click Change what to keep. Once you have chosen the desired options, click Install to begin.

    To learn more about performing a clean install: How to: Perform a clean install of Windows 10

    This will be your screen for a little while. During the installation, your computer will restart several times.

    After the first restart, Windows 10 setup will resume. You will notice the setup experience has once again been refined from the previous animated circle. This will be your screen for a while. When complete, Windows 10 setup will restart automatically.

    Sign into your account.

    Wait while Windows 10 completes application updates and post setup tasks.

    That’s it, the Windows 10 feature update is installed. You can check Windows Update for latest updates, click Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Check for Updates.

    How to prepare your computer before upgrading?

    Although updating to a new Windows 10 version is a relatively simple process, similar to a repair upgrade; users should perform some basic pre-requisites before initiating the upgrade.

    If you are finding it difficult to carry out some of the steps described below, please review detailed instructions how to perform them:

    When making significant changes to your computer such as updating the operating system, you should always backup.

    Disable (preferrably uninstall) your Antivirus utility before attempting the upgrade.

    Restart a few times then try again.

    Disable General USB Devices (example – Smart Card Reader). You can do this from the Device Manager.

    If you have any external devices attached to the machine, disconnect them (example, gaming controllers, USB keys, external hard disk, printers, non-essential devices).

    Check if there are any available BIOS updates for your system, then apply them.

    Perform a clean boot , restart then try again.

    If you are upgrading using the .ISO file, disconnect from the Internet during setup, if you are connected by LAN (Ethernet) or Wi-Fi, disable both then attempt setup again.

    If you are updating through Windows Update, when the download reaches 100% disconnect from the Internet LAN (Ethernet) or Wi-Fi then proceed with the installation.

    If that does not work, try using the .ISO file to upgrade if possible.

    If you are connected to a domain, switch to a local account or upgrade based on your System Administrators discretion.

    There’s nothing like a fresh install of Windows to clear your mind, but it comes at a cost: you have to set everything up again, just the way you like it. Here’s how to reinstall Windows, migrate your important settings, and leave the clutter behind.

    You don’t have to regularly reinstall Windows just to keep things clean, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to do it again. Maybe you just bought or built a new computer, or maybe you didn’t take care of your computer as well as you thought and you have to do a clean install. Maybe you just want to wipe the slate clean for that new, fresh feeling. A clean slate is nice, but it also means you’re going to spend the rest of the weekend setting up all your old programs, settings, and system tweaks, half of which you’ve probably forgotten because you set them up so long ago. Here, we’ll go through some tips on how to back up your most important settings and tweaks, and restore them on your new system.

    You Don’t Need to Regularly Reinstall Windows; Here’s Why

    One of the most persistent myths about Windows is that you need to reinstall the operating system…

    Part One: The Preparation

    Before you reinstall Windows, you’re going to want to go through all your stuff and back up the programs, settings, and tweaks you want to take with you. Here’s what we recommend.

    Step One: Export a List of Your Programs

    Before you do anything else, it’s handy to have a list of all your currently installed programs so you know what settings to back up, and which programs you want to reinstall later on. The easiest way to do this is with CCleaner (a program everyone should have installed ). Just open it up and export a list of your programs:

    What Kind of Maintenance Do I Need to Do on My Windows PC?

    Dear Lifehacker, You guys recently talked about Mac Maintenance, but I’m frankly still a little…

    1. Open up CCleaner (you can do this quickly by right-clicking the Recycle Bin and choosing “Open CCleaner” from the menu).
    2. Head to the “Tools” section in the left sidebar.
    3. Click the “Save to text file” button in the bottom right-hand corner, and choose where you want to save it.

    Save the file in your Dropbox or on a USB stick so you have it after you do your clean install.

    Step Two: Back Up Your Windows Settings

    Next, you should back up any Windows settings you can so you don’t have to do too much tweaking after you reinstall. The best way to do this is with Windows Easy Transfer, Windows’ built-in migration program for just such occasions. It can back up app settings too, but it’s not very good at it, so we aren’t going to use it for that today.

    To start it up, just open the Start menu (or screen) and type Windows Easy Transfer. When it pops up, you’ll get a description of what it can do. Click Next and choose an external hard disk or USB flash drive for your files. Tell it that this is your “old” PC, and it will scan your users for items to back up. Click Customize to tweak the selection. In this case, we recommend unchecking everything and just backing up “Windows Settings,” though you can use this to back up your documents and files too (see below).

    Step Three: Back Up Your Documents and Files

    Before you reinstall Windows, you’ll obviously want to back up your documents, music, movies, and other files just like you always would. I usually just copy these to an external drive or move them with Windows Easy Transfer as described above, though if you back up your computer regularly (which you should), you can always just restore them from your backup later on as well.

    Do you need to fresh install Windows 10 but do not want to lose all data? This article will show you how to backup Windows 10 for fresh install step by step.

    By AOMEI / Last Updated July 7, 2021

    Windows 10 fresh install is needed

    If your computer has problems, such as running slow, system crash, programs quitting randomly, or some, a fresh install may be the best way to fix it. It is hard to find the real reason behind your system problems, and reinstalling Windows can surely fix these deep-seated problems.

    If you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you may find some system issues. After the upgrade, system may run slowly due to unknown programs taking up much computer resources, some programs abort in the middle of an operation, and other strange behaviors may arise. In that case, you can do a fresh install to fix all that problems.

    How to keep the data stored on C: drive when reinstalling

    Generally, after fresh Windows 10 installation, all your files and programs saved on C: drive will be lost. Getting rid of system problems is great, but having to reinstall all well functional programs may be cumbersome.

    Luckily, there are two ways to still keep data remaining on C: drive when you do a clean install. If your C: drive is larger enough (at least 16GB of free space), you can reinstall Windows 10 on C: drive without formatting C: drive. In that way, Windows will move all data to Windows.old folder. After the fresh install, you can move all your data out of that folder.

    You can also create a system backup, then selectively restore some of the files and programs to C: drive after the fresh install.

    Backup your Computer before clean install

    If you want to clean system drive only and reinstall Windows 10, you can backup only system to avoid data loss. If you want to clean up the entire hard drive and start fresh, you can backup the hard drive.

    Considering the need to flexibly restore files from an image backup, you can use free backup and restore software AOMEI Backupper. It allows you to backup system, files, partitions and disks and to retrieve some of the files without restoring the whole image backup. In addition, if you suffer from data loss and system errors after some operations or a Windows 10 update, you can also use this image backup to restore your system to an earlier normal state.

    You can refer the following steps to backup your system or hard drive:

    Step 1. Download this freeware, install and launch it.

    Step 2. Click Backup tab and then select System Backup to only backup system. If you want to backup the entire system disk, just select Disk Backup.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Step 3. In the next screen, you can see AOMEI Backupper has already included the system related partitions, so you just need to specify a location to receive the image backup.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Note: It is recommended to backup Windows 10 to an external hard drive or network attached storage (NAS) since fresh install will delete everything on C: drive.

    Step 4. In the Operation Summary screen, click Start Backup to start the backup.

    How to fresh install Windows 10

    To reinstall Windows 10 from scratch, you should prepare a Windows 10 installation disc or USB drive. If you do not have one, you download the Windows 10 media creation tool from Microsoft to create one. Then follow the steps below:

    Step 1. Connect the Windows 10 installation disk to your computer.

    Step 2. Press a specified key (usually Delete or F2) to boot into BIOS and modify the boot order, so your computer will boot from the installation disk.

    Step 3. When loaded, select language and other preference, and then click Install Now.

    Step 4. When you are asked to enter product key, just click Skip. After fresh installation, Windows 10 will automatically get activated

    Step 5. Select Windows 10 installation type: Custom to ensure a clean install.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Step 6. Delete C: drive and system reserved partition. Then select the unallocated space and click New to create a new system reserved partition and C: drive. Then select that partition to fresh install Windows 10.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Step. 7. When the copying files process is complete or computer restarts, disconnect the Windows 10 installation disk and wait for the installation to complete.

    ♥ Tip on how to create a factory image backup:

    You never know when your computer will not work and if it can be recovered, thus it’s suggested to create a factory recovery partition after reinstallation, it’s the best time. To make it, you could consider using one key recovery software – AOMEI OneKey Recovery.В

    By using it, you can create a system image backup and bootable media simultaneously, and it will add boot menu of this software on your computer. You canВ access it at the next system startup or press specific key, F11 or A, for example.В

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Restore some of the files from system image backup

    Now, you should have your fresh Windows 10 installed. Since we have backed up Windows 10 for a fresh install, then you restore files that you like to keep. You can reinstall AMEI Backupper or use AOMEI Backupper bootable media to restore the data.

    Within AOMEI Backupper, select Explore Image under Tools instead of Restore. If you restore the whole system image, then the fresh install is for nothing.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Then follow the instruction to select the backup image and mount it to virtual partition(s). When the process is complete, you can view all the files in Windows File Explorer.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Any files you still want to keep, just copy them to the corresponding location. To avoid potential problems, you should save them as the original location path.

    If you even need a fresh install, you should backup Windows 10 for fresh install to avoid data loss or potential issues. As you can see, AOMEI Backupper is suitable for backing up your computer data. Besides, AOMEI Backupper Standard can also help you clone hard drive to SSD, copy partitions, sync file or folders disk, etc.

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    Have you tried starting the installation from within Windows XP? Boot to the Windows XP desktop, make sure the Windows 7 DVD is inserted.

    When the setup menu appears, select Custom (advanced) to initiate a custom install procedure.

    You will receive the following warning:

    The partition you selected might contain files from a previous Windows Installation. If it does, these files and folders will be moved to a folder named Windows.old. You will be able to access the information in Windows.old, but you will be able to use your previous version of Windows.

    Is your BIOS set to boot from the Windows 7 DVD?

    On Dell systems, when you want to boot from the optical drive, start the computer, Press the F12 key and you will be prompted with a choice of options, use your up and down arrow keys and select the CD\DVD-RW drive if displayed.

    Press any key to boot from the disc.

    This should start the installation.

    If not, it likely means you have a CD drive (which I think is unlikely).

    Another option is the create a bootable USB thumb drive and boot from it.

    you will have to use a tool such as the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (
    This simple tool will help you convert the same files on the Windows 7 DVD into to a USB thumb drive. For installation purposes, you should get a thumb drive that’s at least 4 GBs in size to store the installation files. Browse to where the Windows 7 DVD is stored, open it.

    Select the USB device where you want to have the backup stored to for installation.

    Once the USB device has been identified, click the Begin copying button.

    And that’s it, the next step now is to boot your computer from the thumb drive, make sure the thumb drive you will be installing Windows 7 from is plugged into the USB port. This might vary by manufacturer, but the usual one to try is F12, start your computer and press F12 repeatedly until a screen is displayed giving you the option to boot from a USB Memory device, select that and press Enter on your keyboard.

    General information about migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7

    Upgrading from Windows XP?

    Please read these instructions carefully and completely before you begin installing Windows 7: There are important steps that you need to follow to upgrade from your PC from Windows XP to Windows 7 in order to preserve your files and settings.

    Before you begin, you’ll need to back up all your data to an external storage device, and you’ll need all of the installation discs for programs you want to keep. Please make sure you have an external hard drive (see details below).

    More detailed instructions are available at Here are the basic steps.

    1. Run Windows Upgrade Advisor ( to see if there are any known issues that might affect the installation and whether you should install the 32 or 64 bit version of Windows 7.

    2. Save your files and settings on an external hard drive using Windows Easy Transfer ( If you don’t have an external hard drive you won’t be able to use Windows Easy Transfer. Alternatively, you can copy files you want to keep on a USB flash drive, CDs, or DVDs.

    3. You’ll need to manually reinstall your programs, such as Microsoft Office, after you install Windows 7. Gather the installation discs for your programs and any associated product/license keys. You might be able to download some programs from the Internet. For example, Windows Live Messenger can be installed from

    4. Inset the Windows 7 DVD into your PC. When asked “Which type of installation do you want? click “Custom (advanced).”

    5. After Windows 7 is installed, use Windows Easy Transfer to restore your files and settings.

    If you’re not comfortable installing Windows 7 yourself, check with a local retail store or PC services company to see if they offer upgrade services.

    Boot from a disc to start diagnostic, setup, and other offline tools

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Tim Fisher has 30+ years’ professional technology experience. He focuses on support and Microsoft topics but is an expert in all areas of tech. He’s also the GM & VP of Lifewire.

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    You might have to boot from a CD, DVD, or BD to run certain kinds of testing or diagnostic tools, like memory testing programs or bootable antivirus software.

    Booting from a disc is operating system independent, meaning that it’s the same in Windows 7 as it is in Windows 10, or Windows 8, etc.

    How to Boot From a CD, DVD, or BD Disc

    When you boot from a disc, what you’re actually doing is running your computer with whatever small operating system is installed on the disc. When you start your computer normally, you’re running with the OS installed on your hard drive, like Windows, Linux, etc.

    How to use a windows installer disc to back up your files when your computer won’t boot

    Change the boot order in BIOS so the CD, DVD, or BD drive is listed first. Some computers are already configured this way but many are not.

    If the optical drive is not first in the boot order, your PC will start “normally” (i.e., it’ll boot from your hard drive) without even looking at what might be in your disc drive.

    After setting your optical drive as the first boot device in BIOS, your computer will check that drive for a bootable disc each time your computer starts. Leaving your PC configured this way shouldn’t cause problems unless you plan on leaving a disc in the drive all the time.

    See How to Boot From a USB Device instead of this tutorial if what you’re really after is configuring your PC to boot from a flash drive or other USB storage device. The process is fairly similar to booting from a disc but there are a few extra things to consider.

    Insert the CD, DVD, or BD into your disc drive.

    How do you know if a disc is bootable? The easiest way to find out if a disc is bootable is to insert it into your drive and follow the remainder of these instructions. Most operating system setup CDs and DVDs are bootable, as are many advanced diagnostic tools like the ones discussed above.

    Programs downloadable from the internet that are intended to be bootable discs are usually made available in the ISO format, but you can’t just burn an ISO to the disc as you can other files. See How to Burn an ISO Image File for more on that.

    Restart your computer—either properly from within Windows or via your reset or power button if you’re still in the BIOS menu.

    Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD. message.

    When booting from a Windows setup disc, and occasionally other bootable discs as well, you may be prompted with a message to press a key to boot from the disc. For the disc boot to be successful, you’ll need to do this during the few seconds that the message is on the screen.

    If you do nothing, your computer will check for boot information on the next boot device in the list in BIOS (see Step 1), which will probably be your hard drive.

    Most bootable discs don’t prompt for a keypress and will start immediately.

    Your computer should now boot from the CD, DVD, or BD disc and the software stored on it will begin.

    What happens now depends on what the bootable disc was for. If you’re booting from a Windows 10 DVD, the Windows 10 setup process will begin. If you’re booting from a Slackware Live CD, the version of the Slackware Linux operating system you’ve included on the CD will run. A bootable AV program will start the virus scanning software. You get the idea.

    Follow these really easy steps to boot from a disc, a process that usually takes around 5 minutes:

    What to Do If the Disc Won’t Boot

    If you tried the above steps but your computer still isn’t booting from the disc properly, check out some of the tips below.

    Recheck the boot order in BIOS (Step 1). Without a doubt, the number one reason a bootable disc won’t boot is because BIOS isn’t configured to check the CD/DVD/BD drive first. It can be easy to exit BIOS without saving the changes, so be sure to watch for any confirmation prompts before exiting.

    Do you have more than one optical drive? Your computer probably only allows for one of your disc drives to be booted from. Insert the disc into the other drive, restart your computer, and see what happens then.

    Clean the disc. If the disc is old or dirty, as many Windows Setup CDs and DVDs are by the time they’re needed, clean it. A clean disc could make all the difference.

    Burn a new CD/DVD/BD. If the disc is one you created yourself, like from an ISO file, then burn it again. The disc may have errors on it that re-burning could correct. We’ve seen this happen more than once.