How to start Windows in safe mode

Safe mode The Windows operating system is designed with a complex structure made up of many processes and countless dependencies. Just as it is possible to add and remove hardware and software, they can happen many different types of problems, errors or conflicts of which, in some cases, it can be very difficult to understand the cause.

Beyond various procedures, diagnostic tools and troubleshooting and anti-virus tools, Windows provides a fundamental tool that simplifies the search for the cause of the problem and becomes the foundation on which to work. Whenever you try to fix an error and every time you try to remove a virus infection you have to start your computer in safe mode.

Let’s see together then how to start windows in safe mode, keeping in mind the keys and methods by which you can access this mode especially on modern operating systems (Windows 10 and Windows 11).

READ ALSO -> Windows administration tools you need to know

Safe mode on a working PC

If despite the problems the PC starts and reaches at least the login screen, we can access the safe mode on Windows 10 or Windows 11 from the login screen by holding down the SHIFT key on the keyboard and using the mouse to press the lower right key Stop -> Restart. After restarting we release the SHIFT key and, in the new screen, click on Troubleshoot, then on Advanced options and finally on Startup Settings.
Advanced options In the new summary screen, press the button at the bottom Reboot and, when the computer restarts, we press the 4 key or the F4 key to enter safe mode. If we want to use the safe mode with networking we will have to press the 5 or F5 key on the keyboard.

If we do not have the login screen (perhaps because we have only one user with automatic login) but we can access the Windows desktop we can start the safe mode by opening the Start menu, starting the app Settings, taking us on the path Update and Security -> Recovery and pressing the key Restart now, under the section Advanced startup.
Advanced startup The computer will restart and we will be able to access the same screen seen above and start the safe mode following the path Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options -> Startup Settings and, after a further reboot, pressing on 4 or F4 on the keyboard (5 or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking).

Safe mode on locked PC

If our PC is frozen or does not boot properly we can access the recovery screen by forcibly restarting the computer 3 times in a row. To do this we start the PC, wait for the first boot screen to appear (the dots spinning) then hold down the power button for 10 seconds (or use the restart button), wait for the restart and hold down the d key ignition and so on until three forced restarts are accumulated.

If the PC restarts by itself or goes into bootloop we do not have to press anything, but only wait until after 3 restarts the system starts directly in recovery mode. Once this mode is open, press on the item Troubleshoot, we press on Advanced options and we always use the menu Startup Settings to open the selection screen.
Reset PC After the restart we press on 4 or F4 to start the simple safe mode or we use the keys 5 or F5 to start the safe mode with networking.

If the PC does not even boot the recovery environment, we can try to start the PC using a USB recovery drive, which can also be created from another computer and reused on the locked computer to try to enter Safe Mode.

Old ways to get into safe mode

Windows Safe Mode (also called Safe Mode) is also present on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, but it can be started in the “old way”, ie by starting the PC and immediately pressing the F8 key repeatedly, before the Windows logo screen appears. To do this, you need an administrator account (whoever uses his own computer is certainly always an administrator, while for company PCs, the intervention of the technical manager may be necessary).

Instead, it is recognized that F8 worked when a screen with advanced boot options appears. In this screen we use the arrow keys on the keyboard to select Safe Mode from the options and then press Enter. You can choose whether to use safe mode with or without network support.

The problem with the F8 key is that some computer manufacturers disable this option, and even on PCs that still support it, Windows startup (and especially the transfer between the normal boot process and Windows startup) happens is much faster than in a few years ago, giving little time to press the button.

Thankfully we can still boot into safe mode using the tool MSconfig, available on all versions of Windows (even on Windows 10 and 11). This tool can be started quickly by pressing the WIN + R keys on the keyboard and typing msconfig in the text field. Once in the right screen we open the tab Startup Options and we check at the bottom of the item Safe mode, also choosing the version to start (Minima O Net).
msconfig Now all that remains is to press OK at the bottom and restart the PC normally, so from enter provisional immediately without pressing any key or opening recovery screens. Leaving the settings as seen above Windows will always boot into safe mode whenever you restart your PC. To restart Windows normally, you will need to go back to the System Configuration tool and disable the Safe Mode option.

Operations to be performed in safe mode

In safe mode we can find out if the problems are caused by installed software, incompatible programs, from hardware components with wrong drivers or if a system file is to blame for the errors.

If the problems encountered previously disappear as soon as you use the computer in safe mode, it can be assumed that the cause of the errors is a program or a driver installed on the pc. Although it could be anything, at least so we are sure that the computer is basically not damaged and can definitely be repaired without calling technicians or without reformatting Windows.

Also, as often seen in our guides, most malware can only be removed in safe mode. This is because these viruses are devious software, hidden behind false names, automatic and programmed to thwart any removal attempt. In Safe Mode, however, malware typically does not load and therefore cannot prevent it from being deleted.

If the problem is therefore caused by a virus, we can always remove it from your computer with dedicated tools, many of which work better on a temporary basis.

If the problems occur during Windows boot, maybe there is a program or service that finds it difficult to start. On a provisional basis we can always download Autoruns and use it for disable suspicious files or services to cause the error (trial and error if you don’t know where to start).

Conclusions

Windows Safe Mode is a simple but effective troubleshooting tool that allows you to log into mildly or severely damaged computers. When using Safe Mode, you avoid hardware or software conflicts because most components do not load, and you avoid the effects of crashing programs that run automatically and the effects of viruses or malware.

As an alternative to safe mode we can fix the problems using selective startup from MSConfig, so as to proceed by trial and error.

If they occur crash with severe errors and blue screen, problems likely occur after installing a driver for a new hardware component.

Finally, before throwing the PC out of the window because it doesn’t even start temporarily, let’s try restore Windows 10/11 keeping all personal files, so you have a new and clean copy of Windows with which to restart without blocks.

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