Booting a Computer: Definition & Process Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is 10 in Binary? - How-to & Steps

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What Is Booting a Computer?
  • 0:48 Boot Process
  • 1:52 Troubleshooting
  • 2:38 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson, we will learn what 'booting' a computer means, where the term comes from, and what happens exactly during the boot process. We will also explore why you may need to start your computer in safe mode.

What Is Booting a Computer?

Are you intrigued by the mystery of what happens when you turn your computer on? Does it all seem like magic to you when the start screen appears on your monitor? Actually, the term booting comes from that little tab on the back a boot, called a bootstrap, that helps you pull your boot on.

Booting a computer refers to the process of powering on the computer and starting the operating system. The operating system is the program that makes all your software applications and hardware work together, so you can do the work you want to do. Once you hit the power button, it's all automatic from there. The boot process loads the operating system into main memory or the random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer. Now let's learn a little more about the boot process.

Boot Process

When you push the power button, power is sent to a small bootloader program, which loads the computer's operating system. The bootloader is located in the cache memory. The cache memory is a portion of your RAM that is directly attached to the central processing unit (CPU), which is the brains of your computer.

Once the bootloader program gets power, it starts the process of activating the operating system. If you were to see this happening, it would show a black screen with the text of the boot up processes.

During the boot process, the first thing that happens is the POST or Power on Self Test. When the POST is running, you will typically see lights flashing and hear a series of beeps. Basically the computer is performing a test to make sure all the attached hardware is communicating clearly with the CPU.

Once the POST is complete, the BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System, is activated. The BIOS is actually stored in read only memory (ROM). So, the bootloader program opens or wakes up the BIOS, which then finds the complete loading instructions on a bootable device, typically the hard disk.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account