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How to Boot Windows into Safe Mode

 

Safe Mode is often needed for Windows troubleshooting.  And this article will detail step by step instructions to boot computer to safe mode for Windows xp/Vista/7/8. Learn more.

Generally there are several options to boot Windows to safe mode and you can just choose on as per your preference.

Follow below tutorials detailed step by step to boot Windows to Safe Mode:

 

For Windows XP users

 

Using the F8 Method:

 

1. Restart your computer.

2. When the machine first starts, it will generally list some equipment that is installed in your machine, amount of memory, hard drives installed etc. At this point you should gently tap the F8 key repeatedly until this brings up a Windows XP Advanced Options menu as shown in below picture.

3. Select the option from Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, Safe Mode with Commmand Prompt for Safe Mode operation using the arrow keys.

4. Then press enter on your keyboard to boot into Safe Mode.

5. Do whatever tasks you require and when you are done reboot to normal mode.

 

Using the System Configuration Tool Method:

 

Note: If you have any trouble in entering Safe Mode via the F8 method, you should not use this method to force it to startup into safe mode. Then why? Read this to find the reason:

Step 1: Close all programs so that you have nothing open and are at the desktop.
Step 2: Click on the Start button then click on Run.
Step 3: In the Run field type msconfig as shown in the image below.

xp-run

Step 4: Press the OK button and the System Configuration Utility will start up. You will then see a screen similar to the picture below.

xp-scu

Step 5: Click on the tab labeled “BOOT.INI” which is designated by the red box in image shown in step 4. You will then be presented with a screen similar to picture below.

xp-boot

Step 6: Put a check mark in the checkbox labeled “/SAFEBOOT” designated by the red box in above picture. Then press the OK button. After pressing the button you will be presented with a confirmation box as shown below.

xp-confirm

Step 7: Press the Restart button and let the computer reboot. It will now boot up into Safe Mode.

Step 8: When the computer boots up do what diagnostic or troubleshooting tasks that you need to do.

Step 9: When you finished your tasks, complete steps 1-7 again, but in Step 6 this time uncheck the checkbox labeled “/SAFEBOOT”. Then click on the General tab and set it for Normal startup.

Step 10: Reboot the computer back into normal mode.

 

For Windows Vista users

 

Using the F8 Method:

 

  • 1. Restart your computer.
  • 2. When the computer starts you will see your computer’s hardware being listed. When you see this information start to gently tap the F8 key repeatedly until you are presented with the Windows Vista Advanced Boot Options.
  • 3. Select the Safe Mode option using the arrow keys.
  • 4. Then press the enter key on your keyboard to boot into Vista Safe Mode.
  • 5. When Windows starts you will be at a typical logon screen. Logon to your computer and Vista will enter Safe mode.
  • 6. Do whatever tasks you require, and when you are done, reboot to go back into normal mode.

 

Using the System Configuration Tool Method:

 

Note: If you have any trouble in entering Safe Mode via the F8 method, you should not use this method to force it to startup into safe mode. Read this to find why.

1. Close any running programs and open Windows so you are back at the desktop.

2. Click on the Start button.

3. In the Start Menu Search Box and then type msconfig and press enter on your keyboard.

4. The System Configuration utility will open and you will see a screen similar to the one below.

msconfig-general-vista

Click on the Boot tab.

 

5. You will now be at the Boot options screen as shown below.

msconfig-boot- vista

Put a check mark in the checkbox labeled Safe boot

6. Press the Apply button and then press the OK button.

7. You will now be presented with a prompt stating that you need to reboot the computer to apply the change.

msconfig-reboot vista

Click on the Restart button to reboot your computer.

8. Your computer will now restart directly into Safe Mode. When you get to the Vista logon screen, log on to the computer and perform any necessary tasks.

9. When done with your tasks, from within Safe Mode, start msconfig.

10. When the program is open, and you are on the General tab, select the option labeled Normal Startup.

11. Then press the Apply button and then the OK button.

12. When the programs prompts you to reboot, allow it to do so, and you will boot back into Windows Vista in normal mode.

 

For Windows 7 users

Using the F8 Method:

 

  • 1. Restart your computer.
  • 2. When the computer starts you will see your computer’s hardware being listed. When you see this information, start to gently tap the F8 key on your keyboard repeatedly until you are presented with the Windows 7 Advanced Boot Options.
  • 3. Using the arrow keys, select the Safe Mode option you want.
  • 4. Then press the enter key on your keyboard to boot into Windows 7 Safe Mode.
  • 5. When Windows starts you will be at a typical logon screen. Logon to your computer and Windows 7 will enter Safe mode.
  • 6. Do whatever tasks you require, and when you are done, reboot to go back into normal mode.

 

Using the System Configuration Tool Method:

 

Note: If you are having trouble entering Safe Mode via the F8 method, you should not use this method to force it to startup into safe mode. Read this for the why.

 

1. Close any running programs and open Windows so you are back at the desktop.

2. Click on the Start  button.

3. In the Start Menu Search Box type msconfig as shown below.

win7 msconfig

Then press enter on your keyboard.

4. The System Configuration utility will open and you will see a screen similar to the one below.

system configuration win 7 

Click on the Boot tab.

5. You will now be at the Boot screen as shown below.
system configuration win 7-boot

Put a check mark in the checkbox labeled Safe boot

6. Press the Apply button and then press the OK button.

7. You will now be presented with a prompt stating that you need to reboot the computer to apply the change.

system configuration win 7restart

Click on the Restart button to reboot your computer.

8. Your computer will now restart directly into Safe Mode. When you get to the Windows 7 logon screen, log on to the computer and perform any necessary tasks.

9. When done with your tasks, from within Safe Mode, start msconfig.

10. When the program is open, and you are on the General tab, select the option labeled Normal Startup.

11. Then click Apply -> OK button.

12. When the program prompts you to reboot, allow it to do so, and you will boot back into Windows 7 in normal mode.

 

For Windows 8 users

 

One of the most common steps when troubleshooting a PC is to boot into safe mode. For a long time this has been achieved by pressing the F8 key, this all changes with Windows 8 and its Automatic Repair mode.

In Windows 8, the Safe Mode is buried deep into the recovery options of Windows 8. While just mashing the F8 key as we all know will boot you into automatic recovery mode, you can still manually access the recovery options by pressing the Shift+F8 key combination.

 

Using Shit+F8 Combination Method:

 

The trick is to hold the Shift button and mash the F8 key, this will sometimes boot you into the new advanced “recovery mode”, where you can choose to see advanced repair options.

 Windows 8 recovery

 

You will need to click on the Troubleshoot option.

Win8 Choose an Option 

Now select Advanced Options.

 

Win8 Advanced options

 

 

Now choose the Windows Startup Settings option, by the looks of things we were never meant to find Safe Mode.

 Win8 Startup Settings

Finally hit the Restart button.

 

When your PC reboots you will be able to boot into Safe Mode from the familiar looking Advanced Boot Options screen.

 

Using System Configuration Method:

 

You have a second option, however, this requires you to be booted into Windows already. Press the Win+R key combination and type msconfig in the run box and hit enter.

Win8 msconfig

Switch over to the boot tab, and click on the Safe Boot check box.

 Win8 system configuration

 

You can also choose the type of Safe Mode you want to boot into:

  • Minimal is normal safe mode.
  • Alternate Shell is safe mode with command prompt
  • Network is safe mode with networking.

The Active Directory option pertains to restoring a server that is a Domain Controller for your network. Once you have chosen your option click the ok button and restart your machine.

 system configuration 2

 

You PC will be booted into Safe Mode automatically.

 win8 safe mode

 

If you restart you PC you will just keep getting booted into Safe Mode, to stop this open msconfig again and uncheck the Safe Boot option, then hit the ok button.

 win8 safe mode 3

 

Finally Restart your Machine.

 

 

Problems that may occur by forcing Safe Mode using the System Configuration Utility

 

It is possible to make your computer continuously boot up into safe mode using the System Configuration utility as described above. The program does this by changing your boot.ini file, the settings file that configures your computer’s boot sequence, and adding the /safeboot argument to your operating systems startup line. An example of this can be seen below.

Original
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /FASTDETECT /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN

After using MsConfig.exe
[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /FASTDETECT /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /safeboot:minimal

 

When you are done using safe mode, you would then run the System Configuration utility again and uncheck the /Safeboot option, thus removing the /safeboot argument from the boot.ini file, and allowing your computer to boot up normally.

On a computer that is operating properly this is normally not a problem. Unfortunately, though, a new trick that some of the more recent malware are using is to delete certain Windows Registry keys so that your computer can not properly boot into safe mode. It is in these situations that using the System Configuration utility to boot into safe mode can cause the computer to become inoperable for many users.

This is because once you set the computer to boot into Safe Mode using /Safeboot, it will continuously attempt to start Safe Mode until the /safebootargument is removed from the boot.ini. Since the malware is not allowing us to actually boot into safe mode, you have no way of getting to a point where you can run the System Configuration utility again to uncheck the /Safeboot option. Thus, you are stuck with a computer constantly attempting to get into safe mode and not being able to do so.

If a situation like this has happened to you it is possible to fix this problem by renaming your boot.ini file. The first step would be to use a boot disk to start your computer. If your computer does not have a floppy disk, then you can typically boot off the Windows CD that came with your computer in order to access the Windows Recovery Console. More information about the Windows Recovery Console can be found here. Once booted to a command prompt, you would simply rename your C:\Boot.ini file to another name like C:\Boot.ini.bak. The command to rename the file at the command prompt is:
ren C:\Boot.ini Boot.ini.bak

Once the file is renamed, you can then remove the boot disk and reboot your computer to get back to normal mode. When booting up after the rename, do not be surprised if you see an error stating that you do not have a valid Boot.ini file. When you get back to normal Windows mode, you can then rename C:\Boot.ini.bak to C:\Boot.ini and run Msconfig again to remove the /safeboot flag.

 

Conclusion

 

It is not uncommon when people are helping you troubleshoot your computer that they tell you to enter Safe Mode. With this tutorial you should now know how to enter Safe Mode when it is required. However, there is an exception for windows troubleshooting due to some deep infection with boot sector virus, such as ransomware. If you are unfortunately trapped in such an case, read more details about ransomware here and find an solution.