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Start Windows in Safe Mode


What is the difference between Safe Mode and Normal Mode?
In safe mode, only specific programs, applications and drivers required to run operating system are loaded. Only standard video drivers are loaded and network connections might be inactive. Safe mode allows you to remove unwanted files from your system, which you are unable to delete normally.

Different options available to start Windows in safe mode:
Users who are running later versions of Windows will get several different options for different types of Safe Mode. For example, you may have options for "Safe Mode", "Safe Mode with Networking", and "Safe Mode with Command Prompt." Below is a brief description of each of these different modes.

1. Safe Mode - The basic Safe Mode option is usually what most users will want to choose when troubleshooting their computer. This is the most basic Safe Mode option and has no additional support. A minimal set of hardware drivers is loaded on boot up when the computer is told to run in Safe Mode. Incidently, hardware drivers are the software that lets Windows Vista make use of the physical devices in the computer, such as the hard drive or video card. The drivers loaded include all hard disk and CD-Rom devices, keyboard and mouse, A basic video driver to display graphics on the screen, and USB storage device support for USB flash drives and card readers. Note that no printing support or network connections are available in this mode. A limited selection of services (operating system processes that run in the background) are also started, bare essentials such as the event log, Windows Defender and encryption support for reading protected files.

2. Safe Mode with Networking - This is the same as "Safe mode", with the addition of hardware support for the computer system's wired and wireless network adapters. For users needing access to the Internet or the network they are connected to while in Safe Mode users may wish to choose this option. Thus you can access the Internet or your local network freely in this mode, though you will find performance to be slower than it would normally be in normal operation. This mode is helpful for when you need to be in Safe Mode to troubleshoot but also need access to the Internet so you can get updates, drivers, or other files to help troubleshoot your issue. The addition of network hardware support means that several other services must be started, including the DNS, DHCP and firewall services.

3. Safe Mode with Command Prompt - Safe mode with command prompt loads Safe Mode, but without the graphical interface, giving you only the command prompt (MS-DOS prompt). Normally this is only really useful to system administrators who need to quickly enter a few text-based commands in safe mode, as there are very, very rare situations where the safe mode with command prompt mode will work when the other safe modes will not.
Follow the instructions below to Start Windows in Safe Mode.

Windows 95

  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Just after the POST diagnostics and memory count, start pressing the F8 key.
  3. On the Startup Menu, choose Safe Mode.


Windows 98/ME

  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Just after the POST diagnostics and memory count, start pressing the F8 key.
  3. On the Startup Menu, choose Safe Mode.


or you may use the System Configuration Utility Method.


  1. While in Normal mode, Close all programs.
  2. Click Start, Run and type MSCONFIG in the box and click OK.
  3. In the System Configuration Utility, on the General Tab, click the Advanced Button.
  4. In the Advanced Troubleshooting Settings dialog box, check Enable Startup Menu. Click OK. Click OK again when the System Configuration Utility reappears.
  5. You will be prompted to restart the computer. Click Yes. The computer will restart in Safe mode.
  6. When you are finished with troubleshooting in Safe mode, open MSCONFIG again and uncheck "Enable Start-up Menu." under the Advanced Menu, then click OK and restart your computer.


Windows 2000

  1. If the computer is running, shut down Windows, and then turn off the power.
  2. Wait 30 seconds, and then turn the computer on.
  3. When you see the black-and-white Starting Windows bar at the bottom of the screen, start tapping the F8 key. The Windows 2000 Advanced Options Menu appears.
  4. Ensure that the Safe mode option is selected. In most cases, it is the first item in the list and is selected by default.
  5. Press Enter. The computer then begins to start in Safe mode.
  6. When you are finished with all troubleshooting, close all programs and restart the computer as you normally would.


Windows XP

If Windows XP is the only operating system installed on your computer, booting into Safe Mode with these instructions.

  1. If the computer is running, shut down Windows, and then turn off the power.
  2. Wait 30 seconds, and then turn the computer on.
  3. Start tapping the F8 key. The Windows Advanced Options Menu appears. If you begin tapping the F8 key too soon, some computers display a "keyboard error" message. To resolve this, restart the computer and try again.
  4. Ensure that the Safe mode option is selected.
  5. Press Enter. The computer then begins to start in Safe mode.
  6. When you are finished with all troubleshooting, close all programs and restart the computer as you normally would.


To use the System Configuration Utility method:

  1. Close all open programs.
  2. Click Start, Run and type MSCONFIG in the box and click OK.
  3. The System Configuration Utility appears, On the BOOT.INI tab, Check the "/SAFEBOOT" option, and then click OK and Restart your computer when prompted.
  4. The computer restarts in Safe mode.
  5. Perform the troubleshooting steps for which you are using Safe Mode.
  6. When you are finished with troubleshooting in Safe mode, open MSCONFIG again, on the BOOT.INI tab, uncheck "/SAFEBOOT" and click OK to restart your computer.


Windows as part of a multiboot system

Use this method ONLY if you have multiple operating systems installed on your computer.

  1. If the computer is running, shut down Windows, and then turn off the power.
  2. Wait 30 seconds, and then turn the computer on.
  3. When the Boot loader menu (list of the available operating systems) appears, use the arrow keys on the keyboard to select the version Windows what you want.
  4. Press Enter, and then immediately begin tapping the F8 key. The Windows Advanced Options menu appears.
  5. Scroll to and select the Safe mode menu item, and then press Enter.


Windows Vista

If Windows Vista is the only operating system installed on your computer, booting into Safe Mode with these instructions.

  1. If the computer is running, shut down Windows, and then turn off the power.
  2. Wait 30 seconds, and then turn the computer on.
  3. As the computer is booting you will see your computer's hardware being listed. When you see this information start tapping your "F8" key repeatedly until you are presented with the Windows Vista Advanced Boot Options. If you begin tapping the F8 key too soon, some computers display a "keyboard error" message. To resolve this, restart the computer and try again.
  4. Ensure that the Safe mode option is selected.
  5. Press Enter. The computer then begins to start in Safe mode.
  6. When you are finished with all troubleshooting, close all programs and restart the computer as you normally would.


To use the System Configuration Utility method:

  1. Close all open programs.
  2. Click Start, Run and type MSCONFIG in the box and click OK.
  3. The System Configuration Utility appears, On the "Boot" tab, Check the "/SAFEBOOT" option, press the "Apply" button and then click OK and Restart your computer when prompted.
  4. The computer restarts in Safe mode.
  5. Perform the troubleshooting steps for which you are using Safe Mode.
  6. When you are finished with troubleshooting in Safe mode, open MSCONFIG again, on the "Boot" tab, uncheck "/SAFEBOOT" and click OK to restart your computer.


Windows 7

If Windows 7 is the only operating system installed on your computer, booting into Safe Mode with these instructions.

  1. If the computer is running, shut down Windows, and then turn off the power.
  2. Wait 30 seconds, and then turn the computer on.
  3. As the computer is booting you will see your computer's hardware being listed. When you see this information start tapping your "F8" key repeatedly until you are presented with the Windows Vista Advanced Boot Options. If you begin tapping the F8 key too soon, some computers display a "keyboard error" message. To resolve this, restart the computer and try again.
  4. Ensure that the Safe mode option is selected.
  5. Press Enter. The computer then begins to start in Safe mode.
  6. When you are finished with all troubleshooting, close all programs and restart the computer as you normally would.


To use the System Configuration Utility method:

  1. Close all open programs.
  2. Click Start, Run and type MSCONFIG in the box and click OK.
  3. The System Configuration Utility appears, On the "Boot" tab, Check the "/SAFEBOOT" option, press the "Apply" button and then click OK and Restart your computer when prompted.
  4. The computer restarts in Safe mode.
  5. Perform the troubleshooting steps for which you are using Safe Mode.
  6. When you are finished with troubleshooting in Safe mode, open MSCONFIG again, on the "Boot" tab, uncheck "/SAFEBOOT" and click OK to restart your computer.