Boot from SD card Reader?

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  1. sygnus21's Avatar
    Posts : 4,088
    Win 10 Pro (x64) 1909 18363.836
       #1

    Boot from SD card Reader?


    Hey guys/gals, need some help.

    We're having a discussion over at DP Review. It's a photography site, but they also have a PC Talk forum. Anyway there's a discussion thread - USB thumb drives vs Card Readers in which we're trying to figure out if Windows will boot from a card reader with a SD card installed?

    Basically you install the boot media on the SD card, use a card reader to read and boot from it.

    I've never tried or seen this so I may be completely wrong, but I contend that neither Windows nor the BIOS will recognize the card reader as a valid boot drive.

    Am I right, wrong? Why?

    I'm ADMint over there BTW.

    Thanks.
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  2. echrada's Avatar
    Posts : 70
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #2

    I have installed Linux from an SD Card but have not tried Windows, however when it comes to choosing your boot medium there is only USB, HDD or DVD/CD .....
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  3. Superfly's Avatar
    Posts : 3,272
       #3

    Without a specific boot entry the only way is to install a Linux network daemon on SD card and boot via PXE - it's a long complicated process though.
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  4. CountMike's Avatar
    Posts : 16,707
    W10 Insider + Linux
       #4

    With an USB adapter, it's same as with normal USB pen-drive. Use a 4 GB SD card from a camera and no difference whatsoever, except maybe a bit slower because of old, low grade SD. Even used micro SD > adapter to SD and in USB adapter.
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  5. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 13,521
    Windows 10 IoT
       #5

    It likely depends on what the BIOS thinks the device is? If it shows up like a USB thumb drive it should work. If it requires drivers to even be detected it won't.
    I know I wish I could boot from the built in SD Card reader in my laptop but the BIOS does not even see it. It's not listed as a boot option even with a bootable SD card in it.
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  6. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 9,073
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #6

    Hi there

    the main problem is whether the BIOS recognizes the card reader -- if it doesn't you won't be able to boot DIRECTLY from the SD card reader. You MIGHT be able to create a bootloader on a conventional USB drive and then it can load the OS from the card reader once the drivers have been loaded. Never tried it though.

    An interesting idea could be to boot from a Micro SD card in a smart phone !!!!!. If the Bios recognizes the Phone as a USB device then you are in business -- especially these days as you've got 32 and 64 micro SD cards. Windows to Go from a smart phone --- now there's another idea !!!

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  7. Indianatone's Avatar
    Posts : 452
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit and VM
       #7

    sygnus21 said:
    Hey guys/gals, need some help.

    We're having a discussion over at DP Review. It's a photography site, but they also have a PC Talk forum. Anyway there's a discussion thread - USB thumb drives vs Card Readers in which we're trying to figure out if Windows will boot from a card reader with a SD card installed?

    Basically you install the boot media on the SD card, use a card reader to read and boot from it.

    I've never tried or seen this so I may be completely wrong, but I contend that neither Windows nor the BIOS will recognize the card reader as a valid boot drive.

    Am I right, wrong? Why?

    I'm ADMint over there BTW.

    Thanks.
    I don't know about windows but I have a Linux partition manager that boots from and 128 mb SD card on my machines. I don't see why it would not work with modern bios as it just appears as a boot device.
    Edit, here is a tool that would make a teaspoon boot :
    http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanagers.html
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  8. Indianatone's Avatar
    Posts : 452
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit and VM
       #8

    Here is the boot menu from my Asus MB.
    Boot from SD card Reader?-141024114341.jpgBoot from SD card Reader?-141024114441.jpg

    Here are the screens in the boot tab showing SD card is bootable. That is the reason I used the 128 mb SD card as a bootable partition manager in the first place. There was nothing else I could do with it.
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  9. sygnus21's Avatar
    Posts : 4,088
    Win 10 Pro (x64) 1909 18363.836
    Thread Starter
       #9

    Thanks guys. It looks like it basically comes down to what the BIOS thinks of the card reader, and if it even sees it.


    alphanumeric said:
    It likely depends on what the BIOS thinks the device is? If it shows up like a USB thumb drive it should work. If it requires drivers to even be detected it won't.

    I know I wish I could boot from the built in SD Card reader in my laptop but the BIOS does not even see it. It's not listed as a boot option even with a bootable SD card in it.
    That's basically one of the questions there... since the machine has a card reader built in, can they boot from an SD card?

    As stated, it just comes down to what the BIOS thinks and does.

    Thanks for all the replies. Will link this thread over there.

    @ Indianatone, that's good info with the screen shots

    Peace
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  10. whs's Avatar
    whs
    Posts : 1,935
    Windows 7
       #10

    It is possible but it is a dog. The card reader is a USB2 device and sloooow by nature. If it runs, it will run like molasses. Best external option is to run from a fast USB3 stick or a SSD attached bia USB3 or eSata. That I do all the time for Windows and Linux and there is a very small performance penalty..
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