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What is safe mode and how to boot in safe mode?

When our computer systems are not operating to the best of their ability, there’s a myriad of reasons for this to happen.

 Perhaps your computer needs a reboot, or storage space is limited, limiting the ability of your computer system to operate at full function.

One of the easiest ways to fix any problems with your operating system, is to use the built-in safe mode feature that is used by most modern computer systems today.

What is Safe Mode?

Safe mode refers to a couple different modes of a computer operating system. It is intended to help fix any bugs or problems you might be experiencing with a computer.

 During safe mode, a computer’s operating system is reduced so that non-core components are disabled.

This enables a person to isolate problems with the system and attempt to provide a solution.

After installing a new software application or add drivers for hardware, a computer system will crash or lock-up.

Even more frustrating, a computer’s operating system may not boot into normal mode, but instead will load with a Safe Mode option, and all other operational systems disabled.

This can be frustrating for users, but the key is to understand the Safe Mode (Safe Boot for Mac users) it’s purpose and how you can use it to your advantage.

How Does Safe Mode Work?

Depending on the operating system, safe mode will typically load essential executable modules, while disabling the devices other functions except for display information and input acceptance.

 Any program or installation that will only boot in safe mode is experiencing a serious problem such as disk corruption or improperly installed software.

Safe Mode may also allow an operating system to open a smaller parallel operating apparatus that doesn’t share any configuration information with the normal operating system.

 Microsoft’s operating system is a classic example of this, users can choose to boot in Recovery Console, which is a troubleshooting mode that is separate from all normal operating systems.

In simple terms, safe mode provides access to diagnostic and utility programs that allows users to troubleshoot any bugs that are preventing an operating system from performing the way it should.

What if Computer Operating Systems Boot in Safe Mode?

With PC users, sometimes a computer will boot in Safe Mode if Windows fails to boot properly in its normal state.

In this event, it’s important for users to first determine what has changed on their system that could have caused Windows to fail.

Perhaps a new download, or software application is causing the problem. Essentially any kind of new hardware will likely be the culprit.

If the problem is hardware, for Windows users, simply go to the Control Panel and remove and uninstall software drivers for any new hardware that is causing issues.

Afterwards you should attempt to reboot. If Windows starts operating properly after this, it’s safe to assume that the problem has been correctly resolved.

This same method is useful for anything new added to your computer, especially games, applications, and other software.

Even these simple tricks may not help you with your malfunctioning device. If you can conclude that the problem isn’t hardware or software, then there’s a good chance you have a corrupted Registry.

A corrupted Registry, can’t be fixed in Safe Mode, instead you’ll probably have to reinstall the entire Windows operating system, in order for your system to begin operating normally.

How To Use Safe Mode

Of course there are ways that users can access Safe Mode. Windows users, particularly those using versions 8 and 10, can access Safe Mode from the Startup Settings.

This can be tricky as the Startup Settings in Windows 8 and Windows 10 can only be found in the Advanced Startup Options menu.

Which means the computer has to already be operating under normal circumstances before users are able to boot into Safe Mode.

This can be frustrating, especially if your system isn’t operating properly to begin with. In older versions of the operating system, Advanced Boot Options is used to access Safe Mode.

Users can also make changes to the System Configuration in order to make Windows start in Safe Mode.

Using Safe Mode is similar to using Windows regularly, except that certain parts of the operating system won’t work or won’t work at the speeds you want them to.

While in Safe Mode, users can still update drivers, roll back drivers, uninstall programs, check for malware, and use System Restore.

Variations of Safe Mode

Three different Safe Mode options exist, depending on what work you need to accomplish will determine which options of Safe Mode you’ll need to use.

The first variation of Safe Mode is the basic Safe Mode. This mode starts Windows with the minimum amount of drivers and services possible in order to start the operating system.

If you don’t need access to the internet or any other local networks, this is the option you’ll most likely choose, especially if you can’t access Windows through normal means.

The second variation of Safe Mode is called Safe Mode with Networking. In this option, Windows begins in Safe Mode with all its attendant drivers and services, except this time the operating system will have networking capabilities.

Users should choose this options when you need access to the internet while working in Safe Mode. For example, if Windows isn’t loading properly, but you know you’ll need to use the internet in order to download drivers to help fix your problem.

The last option for Safe Mode is Safe Moe with Command Prompt. Like the last two, this option loads as the basic Safe Mode, but instead of the user interface being Explorer, Command Prompt takes it’s place.

This option is used if you’ve tried to enter Safe Mode but functions such as the taskbar or Start screen still won’t load properly.

Safe Mode and Other Devices

Other devices can be booted using Safe Mode. Smartphones and tablets, both have Safe Mode options that enable users to troubleshoot problems. Depending on the phone, users should check their phone’s manual to learn how to use Safe Mode on their device.

 In some instances, users simply press and hold the menu and volume button until the phone or device restarts. Other devices might have a similar or an entirely different procedure, but the result is still the same, booting a device in Safe Mode.

MacOS users also have Safe Mode/Boot options, similar to Windows or Android systems. For Mac users, Safe Mode can be reached by holding down the Shift key while holding the power button and powering on the computer.

Applications, programs, and browsers also have Safe Mode features. Microsoft Outlook for example can operate in Safe Mode.

 Doing so results in the programs Reading Pane and extensions being disable so users can better troubleshoot problems.

Browsers like Firefox allow a safe mode, so users can disable extensions and add-ons in order to fix any issues they’ve experienced with the program.

How to Force Safe Mode in Windows

As mentioned earlier, sometimes getting your computer to operate in Safe Mode in Windows can be a bit tricky.

Luckily developers have given users some loop holes to work around this frustrating blocks in order to get your operating system into Safe Mode.

 For Windows 8 and Windows 10 users, forcing your operating system into Safe Mode is moderately difficult and may take several minutes, but it’s well worth it, to ensure a capable operating system.

Advanced Startup options is the go-to fix-it location for both Windows 8 and Windows 10 operating systems.

 In this location users can access options such as reset this PC, System Restore, and Command Prompt.

This option will appear automatically after two startup errors; however, this is not always the case, and users may need to open this option manually.

In order to do so, there are several different ways. To choose which way best works for you, first you need to decide exactly how much access you need to have to your Window operating system.

Depending on the level of access you require, you will probably have to perform one or more of the following functions:

Option 1: Shift/Restart

Perhaps the easiest way to access Safe Mode from Windows, holding the Shift key while clicking Restart will bring up the Advanced Startup Options menu.

 From here, users should be able to access Safe Mode and choose which variation of Safe Mode they will need to use.

Option 2: Settings

Another easy step, in Windows 10 users can simply use the Start button, while Windows 8 users will choose Change PC settings from the open charms bar.

Windows 8 users, will then choose Update and Recovery, locate Advanced Startup which is located at the bottom of the list of options, and click Restart now.

Option 3: Command Prompt

Using this option, users will utilize the Shutdown command. In both Windows 8 and 10, users can use the Command Prompt to execute the shutdown command.

Before doing this, save any and all open files, failure to do so could mean the loss of work or any changes you’ve already saved.

When you open the Command prompt and begin executing the shutdown command, you’ll be prompted about being signed out.

 Close this prompt and wait a few seconds. After this, a ‘please wait’ message will display and after that, the Advanced Startup Options menu will open.

Option 4: Use Installation Media to Boot/Reboot

Sometimes the best way to fix something, is start right from the beginning. Users who use this option must have their Windows 10 or Windows 8 DVD or flash drive that contains all installation files on it.

For those not in possession of either, borrowing a friends can work, as you’re not reinstalling Windows, rather attempting to access the Advanced Startup Options. Therefore, you don’t need a product key.

Use the disk or flash drive to boot your system. In the Windows Setup screen, click Next. Then click on Repair Your Computer, which should be located at the bottom of the window. The Advanced Startup Options should begin immediately after this.

Option 5: Recovery Drive

You can use your Windows 8 or Windows 10 Recovery drive. If you don’t have a recovery drive, but have another computer operating the same version of Windows you can create a recovery drive using a flash drive and downloading the files from that computer.

Using this recovery drive, boot your system. An option to choose your keyboard layout will appear, and you should click on U.S., or whatever layout your keyboard is. Afterward, Advanced Startup Options should begin.

Option 6: Directly Boot Your Computer to Advanced Startup Options

For most technology, the best path is straight. Which means the more straightforward a solution is, the better.

Users can directly boot their computer into Advanced Startup Options from the beginning. First users should start or restart their computer or device.

Next, users should choose any of these options, System Recovery, Recovery, Advanced Startup.

Some Windows systems allow you to access these options from pressing F11.

In fact, many Windows users will find this option available to them, depending on their system the format is generally the same.

F11 will usually begin the System Recovery option for Windows users. The Advanced Startup Options should begin.

 Finals Thoughts

System failures are a source of real frustration, but they don’t have to be. As long as users understand their operating system, and how to effectively use Safe Mode, there should never be problems with troubleshooting.

As complicated as computers and other devices may be, they are still only machines that need some guidance from human handlers every once in a while.

Safe Mode is designed with users in mind. This is a feature that allows users to access the inner workings of their computers and fix any problems or issues that might arise without having to consult an IT expert. Which effectively makes consumers better computer users, saves time and money, and provides a deeper understanding of the machines that ultimately run our lives everyday.

About the author



Geek Life Activated is my little corner on the web. I'm very passionate about tech, and i aim to use this blog to express that. I currently work as a System Administrator, and i love every second of it. I'm still new at it, so i'm learning something new everyday. I'm pretty open to learning new things, so please feel free to correct me if i'm wrong about anything, and you can contact me anytime you want. I'm a very easy person to talk to. :)

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