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  1. Joined : Jun 2014
    USA
    Posts : 424
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       24 Oct 2014 #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.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  2. Joined : Jan 2014
    Pentland Hills
    Posts : 67
    Windows 10 Pro x64 TH2
       24 Oct 2014 #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 .....
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3.    24 Oct 2014 #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.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  4. Joined : Jul 2014
    Serbia
    Posts : 6,985
    All kinds
       24 Oct 2014 #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.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  5. Joined : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 8,238
    Windows 10 IoT
       24 Oct 2014 #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.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6.    24 Oct 2014 #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
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  7. Joined : Oct 2013
    North West Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts : 446
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit and VM
       24 Oct 2014 #7

    sygnus21 said: View Post
    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
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  8. Joined : Oct 2013
    North West Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts : 446
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit and VM
       24 Oct 2014 #8

    Here is the boot menu from my Asus MB.
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	7395Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	7394

    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.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  9. Joined : Jun 2014
    USA
    Posts : 424
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       24 Oct 2014 #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: View Post
    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
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  10. Joined : Oct 2013
    Posts : 1,962
    Windows 7
       25 Oct 2014 #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..
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


 
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