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Sure-Fire Way to Boot from External CD Rom

Using Norton Ghost 12, I need to be able to boot from the CD if the system dies.  I can (with GREAT trepidation) go into the set up and change the boot configuration to boot from the CD.  However, normally it is set to boot from the hard drive, and if the computer was REALLY crashed, changing the boot device probably wouldn't be an option.  If it was dead, no way to alter the boot device.

So, is there a SURE-FIRE way to get the computer to boot from the CD?  I have used Pressing F12 over and over at start up, with only sporadic success.

IS there any OTHER way?

Also, what about just LEAVING the boot device as CD?  It seems to skip the CD when its empty.  

Is that a reasonable fall-back position?  Just set the Notebook to ALWAYS boot from the CD.  And then, in case of catastrophe, I'm already in the boot from CD position.
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THANK you VERY Much!... :):)
your welcome :)