Start Your Computer in Safe Mode

Last updated: Aug 15, 2007

Safe Mode is a special diagnostic mode of Windows used for troubleshooting. Often it allows you to make changes to the operating system when you can not boot normally. This is usually caused by various reasons like incorrect drivers, viruses, spyware, and corrupt files. When your computer is in safe mode it only loads the absolute essential drivers needed to run.

Safe mode also restricts all startup programs from running. This means it is especially helpful to use when scanning for spyware. Since computers that are infected with spyware sometimes run startup programs that create pop-ups and slow down your computer, you can usually scan your computer for spyware much faster and delete more spyware/viruses when in safe mode.

How to get Into Safe Mode

Step 1

Shut down your computer.

Step 2

You are about to turn your computer back on, but get ready to hit the F8 key rapidly. It is usually located on the top row of the keyboard.

Note: On some keyboards I noticed that the “F” or Function keys like F8 are not activated by default and you must hit the “f-lock” key before F8 will work.

Press the power button to turn your computer back on.

Immediately begin tapping the F8 key along the top of your keyboard repeatedly. Usually 2-3 times per second is sufficient. The reason you have to continuously tap the F8 key is because computers are booting at a much faster rate and most computers only have a split second window of opportunity. This window of opportunity is between the last boot sequence before the Windows logo appears. If you see the windows logo you missed the window.

A black and white list of options should appear after several seconds. (On newer machines, tapping the button too fast may result in a high-pitched beep or the machine staying on a black screen for several minutes. If this occurs, turn your machine off and try hitting F8 slower.)

On the black and white screen there should be a list of options for you to choose from. You will need to use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate up and down the list of options.

Which Safe Mode Option Should I Use?

  • Safe Mode: Diagnostic Mode: This will not load CD-ROM drivers or Network capabilities. Use this mode if you cannot get the others to work.

  • Safe Mode with Networking: This mode that supports networking and internet access. I usually go for this mode incase I need to download something from the internet while I am troubleshooting.

  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt: Brings the computer to a DOS prompt.

  • Step By Step Confirmation: Allows you to monitor the loading of the operating system step by step. For Troubleshooting boot problems.

After your select one of these options you should eventually end up in Windows Safe Mode. Your computer’s resolution will be smaller meaning all text and icons will appear larger and you will probably have a black desktop background with windows safe mode text in the corners.

Getting out of Safe Mode

Getting out of safe mode is really easy. Simply restart your computer as normal to exit safe mode.

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