3 Ways to Boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode

In Tech Blog by zdwyer

3 Ways to Boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10

Imagine you just accidentally downloaded a nasty virus and every bit of antivirus you throw at it comes back empty-handed, or the virus still manages to repopulate and infest itself within your operating system. Perhaps your computer has just updated a driver causing it to malfunction, rendering some aspect of your machine inoperable.  How could you diagnose the issue if the essential components of your operating system are corrupt? Wouldn’t it be awesome if Windows allowed you to boot into your environment with the absolute bare essentials required? Well, it does just that!

Safe mode is a wonderful troubleshooting tool that allows you to log into Windows in a minimal state. In its minimal state, Windows only loads the basic drivers and services required to run. By booting in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers as possible suspects to any system malfunction.

So how do you select Windows to boot in safe mode? There are a few ways:

  1. Use F8 on startup (might not work with newer UEFI BIOS, Windows 8/10, & solid state drives)

Back in the days of Windows 7 and XP you could enable safe mode by simply restarting your computer, mashing the F8 key during startup, and selecting safe mode in the Advanced Boot Options window. However, with the steady introduction of faster solid state hard drives and Windows 8 & 10 having faster boot times than previous versions of Windows, this solution might not work. If you’re running Windows 7 and lower, this option will work. If you’re running Windows 8 or 10 this option might work, depending on how quickly your computer starts the operating system.

  1. Hold Shift + Click Restart

Holding down the Shift key in combination with clicking the Restart button found in the Power menu of the start task bar would also do the trick.

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Windows 10 would then reboot and ask you to Choose an option.  Click Troubleshoot

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On the Troubleshoot screen, select Advanced options

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In the Advanced options screen, click on Startup Settings

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On the next screen, you will be prompted with what changes will occur when you restart. It lists safe mode as being enabled upon restart. Click on Restart button on the bottom right hand corner.

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After Windows reboots, you will be prompted with a screen to select which boot option you want enabled. Use the F1-F9 keys to select your choice. Options F4- F6 are safe mode related. Select the option corresponding to your needs.

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  1. Use msconfig.exe

Load the msconfig.exe module by holding both the Windows + R key (this opens the Run window). In the Run window type msconfig and press Enter or click OK.

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Likewise, you can also type msconfig or system configuration into your Windows/Cortana search bar on the bottom left hand side of the screen.

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Next, click on the Boot tab, and check the Safe boot box. Minimal safe boot will be default but you can select any boot option required for your needs.  Click the Apply button. And finally, click on the OK button to close the window.

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Next, you will be prompted with a window asking you to Restart or Exit without Restart. If you’re ready to restart, make sure you save any work, and click on the Restart button to restart Windows. Windows will now reboot in safe mode. Otherwise, click on Exit without restart and Windows will restart in safe mode the next time you restart or power on your computer.

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Windows 10 will keep restarting in safe mode until you de-select Safe boot in msconfig. To deselect the Safe Boot boot option refer to the steps above: open msconfig again and deselect the Safe Boot box option, click apply, and click OK.

– Marcin Bogdan

7/30/16