The Essential USB: Decoding Your PC’s Booting Quirk


“Why does my PC only boot when the Windows installation USB is inserted? Without the USB, there’s just a blinking cursor in the top left corner of the screen, but if I insert the USB and restart, it boots normally. Windows is already installed on my SSD.”


When you encounter a situation where your PC only boots with the Windows installation USB plugged in, it’s indicative of a boot sequence or file integrity issue. Let’s explore the potential causes and solutions.

The Symptom:

A PC that fails to boot without a Windows USB presents a blinking cursor on a black screen. This typically points to the BIOS or UEFI being unable to find the proper bootable drive or necessary boot files on the SSD.

Potential Causes:


Boot Priority:

The first thing to check is the boot order in your system’s BIOS/UEFI settings. If the USB drive is set as the first boot device, the computer will only start when the USB is present.


Corrupted Bootloader:

The bootloader on the SSD might be damaged or corrupted. The presence of the USB allows the PC to use the bootloader from the USB instead.


Drive Issues:

There could be a problem with the SSD itself, such as bad sectors or hardware failure, preventing it from being recognized as a bootable device.



Adjust Boot Order:

Access your BIOS/UEFI settings during startup (usually by pressing a key like F2, Del, or Esc) and ensure your SSD is set as the primary boot device.


Repair Bootloader:

Use the Windows installation media to perform a startup repair. This can often fix issues with the bootloader on the SSD.


Check SSD Health:

Use disk utility software to check the health of your SSD. If it’s failing, you may need to replace it.


Reinstall Windows:

If all else fails, back up your data and consider reinstalling Windows on the SSD. This should recreate all necessary boot files.

Preventive Measures:

  • Regularly update your BIOS/UEFI for the latest fixes and compatibility improvements.
  • Keep your Windows updated to avoid software-related boot issues.
  • Perform routine checks on your SSD’s health to anticipate and mitigate potential failures.
  • In conclusion, a PC that only boots with a Windows USB is a sign that your system is having trouble locating the correct boot files on the SSD. By methodically checking the boot order, repairing the bootloader, assessing the SSD’s health, and if necessary, reinstalling Windows, you can resolve the issue and get your PC starting smoothly again.


if you’re not comfortable performing these steps yourself, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional technician.

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