'Safe Mode' is useful when you can't boot up your Operating System because of malware or a problem with a recently installed driver etc. Booting up your computer into 'Safe Mode' starts Windows with a limited set of files and drivers allowing you to fix your computer.
You can get to 'Safe Mode' by booting your computer while pressing 'F8' on the keyboard in one second intervals. You may see a list of drives or operating systems but by selecting the drive which contains the operating system then immediately pressing 'F8' it will take you into 'Safe Mode'.
When the 'Advanced Boot Options' screen is displayed you will see the following options appear:
Repair Your Computer
This will give you a list of system recovery options to repair your Operating System. These options include: 'Startup Repair', 'System restore', 'System Image Recovery', 'Windows Memory Diagnostic', and 'Command Prompt'.
Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, and Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Selecting one of these options boots your computer into 'Safe Mode' which starts Windows with a limited set of files and drivers. You have the option of booting with full networking to access the Internet or other computers on a network, or booting into a Command Prompt.
Enable boot Logging
This option lists all the drivers that are installed on your computer and puts them in a file called 'ntbtlog.txt'.
Enable low-resolution Video
This will start your Operating System with a low-resolution display setting.
Last Known Good Configuration
If you have recently installed a driver which is causing problems then this option will roll back the driver to the previous good driver. It will also roll back the registry to the last known good configuration which will fix registry problems.
Directory Services Restore Mode
This is for use with a Windows Domain Controller running Active Directory, and allows the Directory Service to be restored.
This will start the Operating System with an advanced troubleshooting mode.
Disable automatic restart on system failure
This will stop your computer from restarting if an error is causing Windows to fail and makes your computer repeatedly reboot.
Disable Driver Signature Enforcement
This option allows drivers to be used that contain improper signatures.
Start Windows Normally
Select this option to start your Operating System up normally.
Note that depending on the Windows Operating System that you are using, you may see less options than there are above.
Using Advanced Boot Options
If you are having problems booting up Windows normally then you can try booting into 'Safe Mode'. If it boots okay into 'Safe Mode' then you can eliminate basic drivers as possible causes. You can then run your most commonly used programs and startup programs one at a time to see if they cause any problems. You can easily uninstall troublesome programs, games, utilities, and drivers from 'Safe Mode'.
You may have installed a device driver which has caused a problem and can try 'Last Known Good Configuration' to roll back the driver to fix the problem.
As long as you can boot into 'Safe Mode' then you can use various Windows tools to try to fix the problem. 'System Restore'
can be used to restore your computer back to how it was at an earlier point in time. 'Device Manager'
will allow you to see if there are any problems with device drivers and remove or update them. You can check the 'Event Viewer'
to see if any problems have been logged. You will also have access to the 'Command Prompt'
, 'Registry Editor'
, 'System Configuration'
, 'Task Manager'
and 'System Information'.
From a 'Command Prompt'
you can try 'sfc /scannow'
which will check all your main Windows System Files and will replace any missing or corrupt files. You can also access 'System Restore'
with the command 'rstrui.exe'
You should also be able to access your anti-virus and/or anti-spyware programs from 'Safe Mode'. It will also give you the opportunity to backup all your important files in case you can't fix the Operating System and have to resort to reinstalling Windows.