boot disk

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boot disk

(operating system)
The magnetic disk (usually a hard disk) from which an operating system kernel is loaded (or "bootstrapped"). This second phase in system start-up is performed by a simple bootstrap loader program held in ROM, possibly configured by data stored in some form of writable non-volatile storage.

MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows can be configured (in the BIOS) to try to boot off either floppy disk or hard disk, in either order. By default they first check for the presence of a floppy disk in the drive at start-up and try to use that as a boot disk if present. If no disk is in the drive they then try to boot off the hard disk.

Some operating systems, notably SunOS and Solaris, can be configured to boot from a network rather than from disk. Such a system can thus run as a diskless workstation.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

bootable disk

An optical disc (CD, DVD) or USB drive that contains a bootable program that takes control of the computer. Computers are typically configured to look for the OS on a CD or DVD first and then the hard disk or SSD. The computer can also be configured to look for the USB drive first, although very early computers do not have that option.

System and Data Recovery
A bootable disk is used to recover a failed system when the OS on the internal storage drive does not load. The OS on the bootable disk can be a very lightweight version of the OS running in the computer, or it may be an entirely different OS. In the past, a compact version of DOS was used.

The bootable OS must support the file system on the computer's internal drive, and it must have sufficient drivers for the peripherals used in the recovery. In addition, bootable recovery disks contain troubleshooting and repair utilities. Even if the operating system cannot be restored, the bootable disk often enables valuable data files to be copied to an external drive. See file system.

Install or Replace an OS
A bootable disk is also used to install a new operating system. In this case, it boots a small program that is able to overwrite the existing OS or install the OS from scratch. For brand new computers, it often has an option to format the storage drive. The installation program on the bootable disk has complete control of the computer. See LiveCD and ISO image.
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References in periodicals archive ?
BackUp MyPC simplifies the recovery process by automatically creating a boot floppy disk or CD-ROM, depending on the operating system installation on the users' PC.
For this reason we included the DOS program format.com on the boot floppy. We also needed a copy of attrib.exe on the floppy in order to reset the attributes when we were finished.
The manual recommends that users keep a boot floppy handy in case some attempted configuration freezes the system, as memory-related experiments are wont to do.