Step 9: How To Build A Computer: Performing The First Boot Up

The goal of the first boot, is to test out all of our hardware and make sure that there are no problems before we get ready to install the operating system.

Now that everything is connected, go ahead and press the power button to start the machine up. Check and make sure that things are operating like on our previous quick power on test, mainly that the fans are working and we have video.

If the computer has been built correctly to this point, you should see a posting of the memory available and then a message stating that a first boot device or OS needs to be installed. Since we have nothing on the new hard drive, this is normal, and shows that the computer is properly seeing the hard drive.

Next we need to go into the BIOS and configure the DVD drive to be bootable for installation of Windows.

BIOS Setup

We will need to access the BIOS now on your computer, and this is usually accomplished by pressing and holding down the ‘delete’ key after you turn on your computer. Depending on your BIOS type, the key or keys you enter may be different. Please consult your motherboard manual on how to access the BIOS if it is not the delete key.

You will also need to follow the instructions in your motherboard manual for changing the first boot up device, and you need to set the first boot device to be your DVD drive.

Why, you may ask, do we change the computer to boot from the DVD drive?

The newest versions of Windows are on media that is bootable, and will start the installation process themselves when you turn on the computer. When you have a hard drive with nothing on it, this is a quick and easy way to get your operating system installed.

We should not be too concerned with any of the other settings in the BIOS at this time. Later, after we have everything installed and working properly, we can come back to the BIOS to tweak some settings, but for now it is not necessary.

Prepare the Hard Drive for Operating System Install

This step may not even be necessary, but we wanted to include it for reference. The newest versions of Windows, including Windows XP and Windows Vista, have a way to partition and format the hard drive during the installation process.

If you plan on installing either of these versions of Windows on a new hard drive as a standard installation, then you do not have to do anything except specify how you want the drive setup during the install process. Skip the information below and continue on to the next step.

If you plan on installing multiple operating systems, or want the drive split up into separate sections or partitions, then you may want to so this before starting the install. Third party utilities are available to handle partitioning and formatting, some of which are free. This will need to be done to the hard drive prior to installing windows if you have a specific way you want to set the drive up. Make sure to use a compatible file type if you do your own partitioning, NTFS for Windows XP is recommended, and Windows Vista uses a newer version of NTFS so make sure your partition utility program will set the drive up to be ready for Vista if you are planning to install it.

We are going to assume that this is a standard Windows installation, and continue on to the next step.

Step 10: How To Build A Computer: Installing Your Operating System

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