For most of our (computer users) may not be familiar with the term Safe Mode. This feature will be provided in the Windows operating system, for various purposes. For example, to check or repair damage to the windows system, remove virus, examine the damage and the other drivers.
Safe mode is the choice options start up windows that its main function to handle if there is a problem with the system. Windows will run with minimal conditions, only the files and drivers that are important in the switch, as well as additional software is largely activated. Then when it has entered safe mode, it will appear the words “Safe Mode” in the corner of the windows.
In addition to the menu to select Safe mode, there are many other menus that can be selected. Here are some explanations these menus:
• Safe Mode, this option means that Windows will run using only minimal files and drivers as well as software-software.
• Safe Mode with Networking, this option like safe mode coupled with the drivers so that we can use the Network (Networking)
• Safe Mode with Command Prompt, same as safe mode except that the program Command Prompt / MS-DOS Prompt (cmd.exe) will be activated immediately (instead of explorer)
• Enable Boot Logging, windows will create a file Ntbtlog.txt, when start-ups and start-up information will be kept on file. This file is usually stored in the root system, for example, drive C:
• Enable VGA Mode. Windows will run with a minimum display modes such as 640 × 480 or 800 × 600. Usually used to inspect the damage or error [drivers] VGA (graphic display windows).
• Last Known Good Configuration, running windows use registry information that was saved when the last shutdown. Use if we are wrong to change the system configuration, or when windows fails to get into
the main display.
Some of the benefits of Safe Mode:
1. Uninstall previous software causes the computer hangs, error and so forth. Sometimes after a certain program to install windows problem, so if it can not be uninstalled through the usual fashion using Safe
This first example of when Safe Mode can come to the rescue is if a new program, game, device or driver will not install satisfactorily, or will not perform properly after being installed, or the computer will not boot into normal Windows after the install but will boot into Safe Mode. Uninstalling any such rogue game or program, and then reinstalling it while in Safe Mode, will usually fix any installation issues. Except, in the case of Windows XP, Vista and 7, an error message may be displayed if you try to install a program in Safe Mode.
One reason for that being if an application is programmed to look for a download connection (which it won’t find while in plain Safe Mode) in order to verify serial codes or to automatically update itself.
Conversely though, if Windows stops you trying to uninstall a program while in normal mode, you may find the uninstall will be possible in Safe Mode. In either event, it is just a case of try and see what happens. With any programs which you know will be invasive on the operating system at a low level, like firewalls and anti-virus tools, it may be appropriate to try to install (or uninstall) them in Safe Mode first. That is true for all versions of Windows, even if you have previously performed such a task in normal mode without any
problem. Attempting the install in Safe Mode first is normally a sound way of trying to avoid a failed install or uninstall with such programs. A new feature, introduced with Windows Vista, on the black startup screen, after you highlighted ‘Safe Mode’ (see Fig 1), was that a message appears across the bottom of the screen telling you that Safe Mode starts Windows with only the core drivers and services and to use Safe Mode when you cannot boot to normal Windows after installing a new device or driver.
2. Disable applications or specific programs. To facilitate the entry into Safe Mode, can use Autoruns application that can be obtained for free from Sysinternals. This technique can also be used to check the
computer that is slow loading. If no Autoruns, can type in msconfig in the Run menu, to run the System Configuration Utility, if it is performed is selected via the Startup tab.
3. Checking for problems with windows graphical display (VGA). When the display windows problem, could be in check by selecting “Enable VGA Mode”, if successful and not see a problem, the possibility of
problems in the VGA driver.
4. Delete the file / virus that can not be through normal mode. Most antivirus software can still run in safe mode, and can be tried scan through safe mode. Sometimes the virus doesn’t run in safe mode, although many also that can run even in Safe Mode.
5. Running System Restore if previously enabled, so the condition of the system can be restored to a previous state.
6. Running various features of the Control Panel, Administrative tools, and so forth.
7. Editing The registry
Most of the time, the registry can be edited in normal mode should the need arise. However, it is not unknown for the online instructions from security companies, for manually removing registry entries made
by malicious software, to require the registry to be edited in Safe Mode. That is to ensure no background process, good or bad, nor internet activity, can interfere with the operation.
8. Registry cleaning
Tools for ‘cleaning’ the registry are designed to run in Windows’ normal mode by default. However, people have been known to trash some of their applications after using a registry cleaner for the first time i.e. when it has the most to do, never realising it might have been safer, possibly completely safe, if they had done the same scan and clean while in Safe Mode instead of normal mode. The suggestion to try in Safe Mode first is not so relevant for subsequent runs of a registry cleaner, when the number of ‘orphan’ entries the cleaner will
find will be minimal compared with the first-ever run. Because of that, the later ‘cleans’ should not carry anything like the same risk.
9. Restoring Windows settings
Another use for Safe Mode is if you have a need to restore some intrinsic Windows’ setting back to a default arrangement. For example, in the event that your Taskbar were to inexplicably disappear one day – which would obviously be extremely serious – booting into Safe Mode, and then back into normal mode, without doing anything else, is a trick by which the errant Taskbar could almost certainly be brought back from the dead.
10. Disk maintenance
Most PC owners know that Windows includes two utilities which should be run periodically to check the hard disk surface and the file system is in good condition and to keep file fragmentation under control.
These tools are Disk Check (or Error-checking, ScanDisk or Check Disk depending on your version of Windows) and Disk Defragmenter. In the past, trying to run these two tools satisfactorily in normal mode, on
the likes of Windows 95, 98 or Me, often verged on the impossible – but could usually be resolved by the simple expedient of switching to Safe Mode first. That does not apply to XP or later.
11. Removing Viruses and Trojans
Viruses and trojans have become so sophisticated that anti-virus programs may not always be able to prevent partial infection by a virus’s payload (the very prevalent Conficker worm, which usually hides on infected USB memory sticks, being a good example). If your anti-virus tool has warned you of an attack, the best thing to do is to carry out a full system virus-scan in Safe Mode as this will expose to the anti-virus tool any viruses concealing themselves in areas which would normally be locked down by Windows if it was in normal mode. Even then, you may also need to run specialist malware detection or removal tools like Hijackthis, Spybot, Malwarebytes, Sophos etc. Some of these supplementary tools may themselves be
capable of running satisfactorily in Safe Mode, and no harm will be done trying that way first. Before hunting down any viruses etc., disable System Restore Points temporarily to remove any risk of being reinfected by restoring an infected Restore Point.
12. Data recovery before restoring Windows
If you have a computer which will not boot into normal Windows, not even with the aid of an emergency boot floppy or CD, and you are, therefore, considering either restoring a drive-image backup or reinstalling Windows from scratch to fix the problem, you will, no doubt, have a need to recover data files from the hard drive first, such as photos, music etc., before they are overwritten and lost for good. If the computer will boot into Safe Mode, you can copy any such files, in the normal way, either onto a different partition (if you
have previously partitioned your hard disk) or onto any kind of external drive or removable media which proves to be still available to you while in Safe Mode. Note, however, if you are trying to boot into Safe Mode only because the computer will not boot into normal Windows, when you get to the boot menu to choose Safe Mode, you may see an alternative option called “Last Known Good Configuration”. If so, it is worth trying that option first. If it works, Windows will be booted to the time when it last started successfully – and your troubles will be over. There should be no risk of losing any data files with this option.
13. Restoring a System Restore Point
If you find, one day, your computer suddenly refuses to boot to normal Windows, but will boot to Safe Mode, you would be able to access the System Restore feature. Hence one of the options available to you to try to recover normal Windows would be to restore a recent System Restore Point. This is an official MS option which is documented deep down in your computer’s Start > ‘Help and Support Section’ menu. In this situation, though, before resorting to a ‘full’ System Restore, we would recommend, when you go to the startup menu where Safe Mode is selected, that you first try the ‘Last known good configuration’ option. This will attempt to start Windows with the last good Windows’ registry. Hence, this will establish if the boot failure was due solely to a problem in the registry or to something somewhere else in the system. It should be noted that Restore Point restorations made in Safe Mode, unlike in normal mode, are irreversible (i.e. cannot be undone), so keep your fingers crossed that it does not also fail.
How To Enter Safe Mode
We refer below to three of the several ways of entering Windows’ Safe Mode in this section . We start with the commonest, the ‘F8 key’ method. However, using the F8 key is not universal to all systems so there is also a mention in there of variants involving other keys, and of certain system/hardware setups which may prevent any of the described methods from accessing Safe Mode directly.
• F8 key method of entering Safe Mode – all versions from Windows 95 to Windows 7.
Soon after switching on or restarting the computer, start tapping the F8 key. Provided you do not start tapping the F8 key too soon (causing a “keyboard error” message), too slowly (boots straight to Windows) or too quickly (also boots straight to Windows).
At the menu, if the item ‘Safe Mode’ is not already highlighted, use the keyboard’s non-numeric Up and Down arrow-keys (or the numeric keypad, provided the Num Lock light is out) until ‘Safe Mode’ is highlighted, and press the Enter key. This will cause the boot process to resume. Be patient as booting to a Safe Mode desktop takes longer than booting to the everyday desktop. You will know if you have successfully entered Safe Mode because the words ‘Safe Mode’ will appear in all four corners of the screen, similar to the example in Fig 3.
If you do not see the words ‘Safe Mode’ on the desktop, you are not in Safe Mode – so you will have to try again by restarting the computer. It is possible you may have been tapping the F8 key too quickly, too slowly, or holding it down too long.
If you were unable to get into Safe Mode by tapping the F8 key, after several attempts, because the computer insists on booting straight into Windows each time, turn off the computer, wait 10 seconds, then
turn it on again. Windows may decide the computer experienced an abnormal start last time and automatically take you to the Safe Mode screen.
If you have still not managed to enter Safe Mode, restart the computer and, this time, instead of tapping the F8 key, keep the key held down to see if that will cause the Startup menu to appear. If you get a “stuck key message”, you will know that’s not going to work either.
If tapping or holding down the F8 key both failed to work, you will have to investigate whether your particular system is designed for a different key to be tapped or pressed, such as F2 or F12, or even the Ctrl key or Shift key. Or, if you are using a USB or wireless keyboard, that might be the problem (see tip 10 in RH col). If it’s not the keyboard either, check if the Help file for your particular version of Windows offers a different method from those you have already tried. To find it, click the Start button > Help or ‘Help and Support’ (not Search) > type ‘safe mode’ in the Help’s search box, and all articles relating to Safe Mode will be flagged up.
• Msconfig method of entering Safe Mode – all versions, Windows 95 to Vista
If you are already in normal Windows mode, there is a way of going into Safe Mode straight from Windows by using Windows’ System Configuration Utility (msconfig.exe). This way is not as direct as using the F8-key method so we are not covering it here. If you want to read more about running msconfig, try the links just above.
• Floppy Disk Method of entering Safe Mode – all versions of Windows that the has a floppy drive Modern desktop PCs no longer come with a floppy disk drive, of course, but, if your machine still has one, there is this third and foolproof way of entering Safe Mode. This method, unlike the method in first above, involves no pecking of a key, always works first time every time and, unlike the tortuous msconfig method mentioned in second above, does not require lots of navigation steps to be remembered.
The method does assume the floppy drive will be set as the first boot device in your computer’s BIOS, but that was the norm for computers with a floppy drive.
Start by inserting a floppy disk in the floppy drive. This can be any used or blank floppy (but not a boot-floppy, as that would take you straight through to normal Windows or a DOS-prompt). With the floppy
inserted, carry out a normal start (or restart) of the computer.
Subject to the boot sequence in your computer’s BIOS, the boot process should now stall at a black screen with a poorly worded message in the bottom left corner, which means you need to remove the floppy. After
removal, you have two choices. Either press Shift+Enter, and the computer should boot straight through to Safe Mode. Or, press the appropriate key (usually F8) for a few moments, then release the key, and the screen will step to the Startup menu (Fig 2). If the “Safe Mode” option is not preselected on the menu, enter its menu number or scroll to it using the dedicated arrow keys, then press Enter. The computer will continue booting until arriving at the ‘Safe Mode’ desktop.
If you use this floppy-disk method, remember not to release the (F8) key too quickly. If you do, the Startup Menu might get bypassed, causing the PC to boot into normal Windows, and you would have to begin all over again.
How To Exit Plain Safe Mode
Exiting Safe Mode, after use, is simply a case of clicking the Start button and initiating a restart of the computer in the normal way. If, at the Startup menu, you inadvertently choose the option ‘Safe Mode with Command Prompt’, you will end up at a DOS-like screen or window. To exit from that, at the C:\> prompt, type exit and press Enter. This will probably leave you staring at a blank screen. To exit from that, press Ctrl+Alt+Del > click Shut Down > choose a shut down option > OK.
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