Getting An Ultrabook To Boot From USB

Do you have a new laptop that refuses to boot from USB? You’re failing to get Windows to install from a removable device? Don’t have an RJ45 port to do PXE installs?

If so, I think I have a hack for you. This is what I used for my Toshiba KIRAbook when wiping Windows 10 Techniacl Preview to reinstall Windows 8.1 – it took a lot of Googling and experimentation to get the thing to boot from USB. My fix is not perfect because you sacrifice Secure Boot, but it works. And no, this page from Microsoft, which is copied endlessly on the Internet, is Bull$h1t.

The cause of the issue is UEFI, the successor to BIOS. You are going to have to configure 3 things:

1) Disable Secure Boot

Reboot your laptop into the UEFI setup (probably one of the function keys – this page is pretty good).

2) Enable CSM Boot/Disable UEFI Boot

In my Toshiba KIRAbook, I found this under Advance > System Configuration. The setting name changes depending on if it is enabled or not.

Note that this setting might be greyed out if you haven’t disabled Secure Boot yet.

3) Prepare a Boot Stick

I used a free tool called Rufus to prepare a USB stick from the Windows 8.1 with Update ISO file.

You can now install Windows on your laptop. You’ve lost Secure Boot and UEFI Boot (Windows 8.1 will not start when they are enabled), but you are able to install Windows. I’ll update this post if anyone comes up with something better.

Note: I hate this bolloxology. This stuff should be much easier.

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13 Comments on Getting An Ultrabook To Boot From USB

  1. Aidan:

    You try UEFI with FAT32 on the USB stick with rufus? I had a hard time with an HP with UEFI /secureboot and it worked fine (albeit after 4 tries with everything else)

    –Tracy

  2. Did you try formating the USB Stick with FAT32 instead of NTFS?

  3. Not sure if this will help on the Toshiba, but I was having a very similar problem with the Surface Pro 3–it would not reliably boot from network or USB, regardless of the boot order settings. The only thing I found that works consistently is to first boot into the BIOS options, shut it down, then start it with the Volume Down + Power button option (the combo to boot from an alternate boot source). Not sure what the equivalent might be for the Toshiba, though.

    • Nope. F12 is the boot option and I tried that.

      • Just to be sure, the boot order key combo alone doesn’t do the trick for the Surface Pro 3–only using the key combo immediately after shutting down from the BIOS screen would cause it to boot from USB. Speculation is that shutdown and boot are handled a bit differently in Windows 8+… a shutdown doesn’t necessarily mean a cold boot. Apparently coming out of the BIOS rather than out of Windows is the key, at least for the Surface Pro 3.

  4. Bart van de Beek // November 24, 2014 at 5:06 PM // Reply

    I tried this with a Lenovo Ultrabook but switching off UEFI left me with a notebook not recognizing the internal m-SATA SSD (on which I wanted to install Windows). Seems switching it off also meant losing AHCI somehow and the SSD was not there as IDE… Weird. Totally agree, this stuff should be without any of this messy crap

  5. “bolloxology”

    Amazing!

  6. If not work keyboard and mouse – how preses any key?…((( i is have now this problem after “help my friend…” (exchange in bios usb to off…(((

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