When we turn on the PC, Windows loads all the services necessary for the operating system to start working. In addition, it also starts the processes and services of many programs that we have installed on the PC so that they can work when we need them. If all goes well, we don’t have to worry. Even if Windows does boot, even if problems appear after boot, we can still fix them. However, what happens when a problem, or failure, causes Windows not to start? How can we solve it? This is where Safe Mode, now known as Windows 10 Safe Mode, comes into play .
What is Safe Mode
Safe Mode was the name for Safe Mode in Windows XP and earlier versions of the operating system. Since the release of Windows 7, this mode has been renamed ” Safe Mode “. And to this day, with Windows 10, it continues to receive this new name.
This mode allows us to limit the elements that we want to start when we turn on the PC. In this way we will start only with what is essential for the operating system to boot. We will not load any third-party processes or services (not even antivirus) and also some non-essential Windows services such as installers and even wallpaper. Of course, drivers are not loaded either, so if any of them are giving us problems we can uninstall them so that our PC can work normally again.
When to use this Safe Mode and what can we do
Since this mode is very limited it is not something we can use every day. The main purpose of this boot mode is to help us when we have problems in the operating system. Generally serious problems that prevent us from performing other tasks from Windows (such as uninstalling a program) or directly that prevent Windows from starting (for example, with a blue screen or a black screen).
Once inside this mode, what we can basically do is uninstall programs, uninstall drivers or apply certain configurations to the system. We can also, for example, delete Windows updates that are giving us problems or restore the system to a previous point. If we choose the Safe Mode option with Internet access we can surf the net to find tools that can help us or solutions to our problems.
Of course, this mode is very useful for removing malware. Since viruses do not start up this way, we can use a portable antivirus to detect and eliminate them. And, in addition, we can deactivate all the persistence functions that the malware may have so that, when it returns to normal mode, it does not regenerate.
Generally, this minimal boot mode ignores the culprit that causes these programs and will allow us to lead to a reduced desktop. In addition, we can log in with the Administrator account to be able to carry out all kinds of actions in the system without permission problems.
Different ways to enter Safe Mode
To enter the safe mode of Windows 10, what we must do is enter the advanced startup options of the operating system. This can be done in several ways, which we will detail below. But once inside, what we will see will be a screen, like the following one, from which we will have to choose the option to ” solve problems “.
Once inside this option, we can see two new ones. The one that interests us is the one with advanced options. We click on it to see all the recovery options that our Windows 10 PC offers us.
Here we can see a series of functions and tools that the Windows 10 Recovery offers us to detect and solve problems. To enter Safe Mode, what we must do is select the startup configuration option .
Then we will be able to see a new screen with all the options that Windows will offer us to configure the start. We don’t have to choose anything (yet). Just click on the little “Restart” button.
The PC will restart and now we can see the different boot options Windows 10 offers us:
- Enable debugging.
- Enable boot record.
- Enable low resolution video.
- Enable safe mode.
- Enable safe mode with networking.
- Enable safe mode with command prompt.
- Disable the mandatory use of signed drivers.
- Disable early start antimalware protection.
- Disable automatic restart on failure.
Each of these options has its own number. Using the numeric keyboard, or the F keys, we must select the option that interests us. The important modes are 4 (normal safe mode, no Internet) and 5 (Windows 10 safe mode with networking). The 6 can also help us, but we will only have a CMD terminal, we will not be able to use the desktop.
We choose the option that interests us (5, in our case) and Windows will start to boot in this mode.
Open Windows 10 Advanced Startup
In order to get to the advanced Windows startup that we have just seen in the previous point, we can do it in several different ways.
From Windows Settings
The standard way to open Windows Advanced Startup is to do it from the operating system’s Settings menu . To do this, what we must do is press the keyboard shortcut Windows + I, to open the Settings window, and in it we will move to the Update and security> Recovery> Advanced startup section.
By clicking on “Restart now”, Windows will open the advanced system startup, and we will only have to follow the steps described above.
Shift + restart
Another way to restart the computer in this mode, if we are already directly in Windows, is by forcing the advanced boot options of the operating system. To do this, all we have to do is hold down the Shift key on our keyboard while we choose the option to restart in the Windows start menu.
At this point we can see the safe start of Windows. We simply have to follow the steps that we have seen in the previous points to indicate to the system that we want to start in this mode.
If Windows won’t start …
If for some reason Windows does not start, the operating system will automatically display the advanced startup options after 3 unsuccessful boots. Either because the computer restarts, or because of a screenshot, we will automatically be able to see this boot mode the third time we try to start the system. We can even force it ourselves by turning off the PC while Windows loads using the Power button or the restart button.
Likewise, after these failed startups, we can see the advanced startup of Windows. We must follow the steps above to enable safe mode on the next system reboot.
Other ways to get to Safe Mode
If we execute the MSConfig command in the Windows 10 search engine, or in the window that appears when pressing Windows + R, we can open a system configuration window. This window has several tabs with different settings. If we select the “Startup” tab, we can open the advanced Windows startup options.
What we are interested in here is to mark « Safe start up», and choose the «minimum» option. If we want it to be with access to the network, we will mark the option «Network».
We apply the changes, restart and Windows 10 will automatically start in Safe Mode. As we have not marked the option to make this change permanent, the next time we restart we will return to normal mode.
F8 during startup
This method generally works with very old computers without UEFI and without SecureBoot. It was the legacy way to enter Safe Mode in Windows XP. What it is about is repeatedly pressing the F8 key on the computer when we press the power button. There will come a time between POST and the start of Windows loading that this click will be detected and, instead of starting to load Windows normally, we will be able to see the advanced startup.
How to exit this mode and return to normal Windows
Once we have reached this point, we will be in this mode. The main way to differentiate it is by its black background and the watermarks around it that remind us that we are in Safe Mode and the build of the system we are using. Effects, animations, transparencies … everything will be disabled.
When we finish making the changes and settings we want, all we have to do to exit Safe Mode and restart Windows normally is to restart the PC.
After restarting it, Windows will automatically start up in normal mode again. In case, after rebooting, we return to this mode again, it is probably because we have inadvertently marked the option to make safe mode permanent in MSConfig. Therefore, we must return to this configuration section, uncheck the safe mode and make this new option permanent.
Now yes, when restarting, we will return to normal Windows mode. And in case of continuing to have problems, using the previous configurations we will be able to access this mode again to try to solve the problems.