On newer Windows 8 PCs using the UEFI or EFI boot standard, many PC manufacturers use a feature known as “Secure Boot” which blocks computers and laptops from booting from external media such as bootable USB sticks or CDs and DVDs. This guide covers some of the common ways to disable “Secure Boot” on your PC, letting you boot into recovery media and setup CDs for other operating systems like Linux or older versions of Windows. Depending on your system configuration, you may also need to set up your UEFI “BIOS” to enable legacy mode.
Originally designed as a security measure, Secure Boot is a feature of many newer EFI or UEFI machines (most common with Windows 8 PCs and laptops), which locks down the computer and prevents it from booting into anything but Windows 8. It is often necessary to disable Secure Boot to take full advantage of your PC.
Reasons to disable Secure Boot
There are several reasons why it might be necessary to disable Secure Boot on your workstation or laptop, that include
- Installing an older version of Windows
- Installing Linux, BSD, or another operating system
- Running system repair CDs or utilities (such as NeoSmart Technologies’ Easy Recovery Essentials for Windows)
- Performing advanced PC maintenance procedures, such as BIOS or firmware updates
Disabling Secure Boot
On PCs and laptops from most manufacturers, including Dell, HP, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo, and more, Secure Boot can be disabled from the EFI setup/configuration feature, available immediately after turning on your PC. While some makes and models of laptops actually do not let you turn off Secure Boot, the following instructions should work for most users.
Below are instructions for turning off Secure Boot on most PCs and laptops, as well as specific instructions for certain brands of laptops. On most EFI computers, you’ll need to access EFI setup immediately after turning on your PC in order to see the option of switching off Secure Boot, usually as an option under the boot options section of the BIOS configuration.
Entering the UEFI setup
Immediately after powering up your PC, as soon as the manufacturer logo (e.g. Dell, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, Samsung, ASUS, Acer, Gateway, etc.) shows up on your BIOS splash screen, you will have the option of pressing a special key. This key changes from PC to PC, it all depends on your PC’s make and model.
Typically, you will see a brief note at the bottom or top of the screen indicating what the key is. One such screen is visible to the right, note the legend in the top-right corner indicating F2 will start the BIOS setup and F12 will present the boot selection menu.
Some common options include the F2, F8, F12, and Del keys. However, it could be any of the one hundred other keys on your keyboard.
Switching off Secure Boot
Once inside the UEFI setup and configuration section, you’ll be presented with a number of options and parameters that can be configured for the firmware environment. You’re looking for an option often called “Secure Boot” which can be set between “Enabled” or “Disabled”.
Depending on the motherboard’s BIOS/EFI firmware, the Secure Boot option will be found on the “Boot”, “Security”, or “Authentication” page. It must be set to “Disabled” or “Off” to allow you to boot from external media correctly.
Saving Settings and Exiting
In order for the changes to the Secure Boot configuration to take effect, the BIOS/EFI/UEFI configuration options must be saved. The common keyboard shortcut to save and exit is F10.
After correctly giving priority to the CD/DVD over the local hard disk, you will need to save changes and exit. Again, the exact steps depend on your PCs make and model, but generally navigating with the ← and → arrow keys will let you reach the options of “discard changes and exit” vs “save changes and exit,” amongst others. It’s important that you choose the “save changes and exit” option! The keyboard shortcut F10 is often synonymous with “save and exit” but you should make sure before using it.