How to Boot from Network? Step by Step Guide

By Dominic Chooper on June 17, 2023

You can boost any system from a network if you have a boot server. Simply select the right kind of boot strategy from the boot task menu of the configuration assistant and set the network configuration strategy accordingly.

You may also use other methods such as DHCP or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, and RARP or Reverse Address Resolution Protocol to boot from a network.


Why Do You Need to Boot from the Network?

You will need to boot from the network when you want to manage the hard drive storage of your computer in a centralized manner.

A few other significant benefits of booting from a network are:

In addition to the above, network boot is also helpful for cluster computing with systems or nodes that do not have any local drive in them. It also helps in creating a platform for executing the script-driven installation of the operating systems on the target computer.

How to Boot from a Network?

How to Boot from Network

Ideally, you will need to set the network configuration strategy appropriately in order to boot from a network.

Though the default strategy followed is the RARP, you may also use a DHCP boot server for the same to avail of the PXE network boot.

Some other useful ways to boot a system from the network are:

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All these processes need to follow a few specific steps in parts or in a single process as mentioned below. It is naturally a long process.

For beginners, it can appear to be a bit complex, and therefore extreme caution must be taken to avoid any errors that may affect the functionality of the system adversely.

Method: Creating New Partition Volume and a Network Path

This is a long process and mainly comprises several parts. It mainly involves using the PXE or Pre-Boot Execution Environment. This single method includes every step mentioned above.

The first part involves creating a new partition volume on your computer and then using relevant software for the actual booting process in the following steps.


This PC manage

Selecting Shrink Volume

Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB

Creating an Unallocated partition

Clicking on New Simple Volume

Clicking New Simple Volume wizard next button

This will create a new blank partition which you can see in My Computer as shown below:

new blank partition

Click on new partition properties

clicking on the Advanced Sharing button

Clicking on the Permission button

Selecting Everyone and clicking apply

clicking on the Network Path

Pasting the network path on notepad

The next part of the process involves using relevant software for booting from the network, AIO Boot, for example. (This is just an example and is not a promotion. It is your discretion which software you will use).

Download the boot software and copy it to the new partition. Also, download a Windows ISO file and copy it to the same drive.

Use Hard Disk Drive

Select the drive to extract files

clicking on the Select Pack box

Selecting the version of the operating system

selecting the ISO file and clicking ok

giving a name to the menu in the Boot Menu window

clicking on the AIOCreator logo

Clicking on Yes in the User Access Control window

clicking on the Run PXE tab

Meanwhile, go back to My Computer > right-click on the volume > Go to Properties > click on Sharing > Click on Network and Sharing Center.

Clicking on Network and Sharing Center

Alternatively, you can also open this window from the Control Panel from Start > Typing control in the search box > hitting enter > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change advanced sharing settings.

clicking on the circle next to Turn on network discovery

Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders

Now, boot your virtual machine from the network. Assuming that you are using VMWare, these are the steps to follow:

Creating a New Virtual Machine

Clicking on the Next button on the New Virtual Machine Wizard window after selecting Custom

checking the circle next to ‘I will install the operating system later.’

Selecting a Guest Operating System

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Clicking on the Browse button in the following window

Selecting the location and clicking on ok

Then continue clicking on the Next button in the following windows until you find the Finish button. Click on it to end the process.

clicking on the Edit virtual machine settings

Checking the small circle next to ‘Bridged: Connected directly to the physical network.’

Open the virtual machine now and you will see that it is receiving the MAC address.

selecting the WinPE & Setup

Selecting Windows 10 Network Installation

Typing the network path you wrote down on the notepad before

Clicking the Next button in the following Windows Setup window

Clicking on Install Now in the successive window

Follow the instructions on the screen and click on the Next buttons, accept the terms and conditions as instructed to install the new OS and boot your system from a network.

Finally, set up the BIOS in the target computer and enable the CSM Support and the LAN PXE Option ROM, save and exit BIOS.

Enabling the CSM Support and the LAN PXE Option ROM

Restart the computer, go to the boot menu by pressing the F 12 key, or other according to your system, and select the specific network LAN card.

The system will now show DHCP suggesting that it is connecting to the network.

System showing DHCP

Once it does, follow the same steps to install the operating system on this PC as before.


Booting a system from a network is not easy, especially if it does not have a local drive, as you can see from the single, long process mentioned above.