Booting my Raspberry Pi 4 from a USB device

How USB Boot is enabled On Raspberry Pi

For most users, setting up a Raspberry Pi for the first time with NOOBS and an SD card is a breeze. Also, I think the ability to have multiple SD cards with different operating systems and your data on them is beneficial. It eliminates the need for time-consuming distro hopping.

However, don’t forget that Raspberry Pis have USB ports connecting peripherals like keyboards, mice, and USB drives. Apart from SD cards, you can also use a bootable USB drive to install an OS on the Pi, just like any other computer, but you must first enable USB boot. As a result, we’ll show you how to enable USB boot on the Raspberry Pi in this article.

On the Raspberry Pi 4B, enable USB boot.

It’s simple to enable USB boot on the Raspberry Pi 4B. Before you begin the process, make sure your Pi’s EEPROM version is up to date.

  • Connect your Raspberry Pi 4B to a monitor and turn it on without an SD card.
  • You will now be taken to a diagnostic screen, where the EEPROM version will be displayed.
  • Your Pi already supports a USB boot if the EEPROM (bootloader) was added on or after September 3, 2020. If not, you’ll have to flash the newer EEPROM to get the same functionality.

On the Raspberry Pi 4B, flashing the newer EEPROM

  • Go to the official Raspberry Pi website and download and install the Raspberry Pi Imager tool. The instructions for installation can be found on the website.
  • In the RPI imager, go to Choose OS, scroll down to Misc Utility Images, and click it. After that, select Raspberry Pi 4 EEPROM Boot Recovery and then SD Card Boot.
  • Now, using an SDHC adapter or a USB reader, insert the SD card into your computer. Select your SD card in the imager software by clicking Choose SD Card.
  • Finally, select Write and wait for a small confirmation window to appear.
  • Connect the power supply and monitor to the Pi and insert the SD card.
  • The bootloader will be updated to the most recent version, and the Pi’s green LED will flash continuously. Green color will appear on the monitor, indicating that the flash was successful.

Using Advanced Options to Enable USB Boot

If a USB drive is available, we need to change the boot order to tell Pi to boot from it first. To do so, you’ll need to first install Raspbian (the Raspberry Pi operating system) on an SD card. Make sure to check out our guides on how to install Raspbian (Raspberry Pi OS) and how to set up a Raspberry Pi headless setup.

  • After you’ve installed Raspberry Pi OS, go to the app menu and search for and open the terminal.
  • Type the following command in the airport and press enter.

sudo raspi-config

  • Several options will appear. To navigate between options, use the up/down arrow keys and the side arrow keys to navigate between the “Select” and “Finish” options.
  • Go to Advanced settings now and look for the Boot Order option.
  • Select the Boot Order option from the menu, and you’ll be presented with two options.
  • Go to the first one and press enter. A confirmation message will now appear.

And that’s it! On your Raspberry Pi 4B, you’ve now enabled USB boot. Wasn’t that a piece of cake? All you have to do now is use Rufus on Windows or these five tools on Linux to flash your USB drive, plug it into your Pi, and Boot into the OS.

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