Data Centers

How to configure Hyper-V VM boot order

How a Hyper-V VM boots up will dictate a lot, especially if optical media are interchanged. IT pro Rick Vanover shows a few ways to manage boot order for Hyper-V virtual machines in this post.

Hyper-V virtual machine boot order sounds pretty straight-forward, until you need something that is not the default. A virtual machine in Hyper-V will boot from CD/DVD (or mapped .ISO files), optical drives, IDE (fixed local disks), next network services (PXE) and finally, virtualized floppy media. For most Hyper-V setups, this is fine. But what does one do when the boot order needs to change, and it may need to change en masse?

That's when the virtual machine's properties can be changed for the boot order. Figure A below shows one Hyper-V virtual machine having the IDE device (VHD / VHDX hard drives) being moved up to be the leading boot device:

Figure A

This is good for situations where users may map their own media, which may include bootable elements (like a recovery environment). Changing the settings in Hyper-V Manager are good for a one-off change (especially if it is sent to a template/library); but not the best situation for a large scale change.

For changing multiple virtual machines' bootable behavior at once, PowerShell becomes the way to do it. Making that same change in PowerShell is actually quite easy. Using the Get-VM and Set-VMBios commands, this change is made on a per-VM basis. From Figure A, the DLD-2008R2 VM will have its boot order to put IDE first; the following PowerShell script will do this change (as well as query the boot order before and after the change):

get-vm DLD-2008R2 | Get-VMBios

get-vm DLD-2008R2 | Set-VMBios -StartupOrder


get-vm DLD-2008R2 | Get-VMBios

If this script is to apply to all VMs inventoried on a host (the only catch with PowerShell and Hyper-V Manager in changing the boot order is that the virtual machine does have to be powered off), the following PowerShell script can be used:

get-vm * | Set-VMBios -StartupOrder
Running this script is shown in Figure B below for a single VM.

Figure B

Click to enlarge.

Changing the boot order in Hyper-V is actually quite easy to do, especially since it is done from the management layer of the hypervisor, rather than in the virtual machine. This TechNet blog post talks a bit more about the Set-VMBios command from PowerShell.

Do you find yourself changing virtual machine startup options? If so, what situations make you need to do this? I've done a few but am curious what you are seeing. Share your experiences below.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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