Sometimes your Windows computer just doesn’t work right. Sometimes we pick up a nasty virus, download a program that doesn’t work right or develop a nasty problem that we can’t identify but gums up the works. Problems like these can make normal methods of repair impossible when the computer becomes slow, tools won’t launch or it simply won’t boot up properly. What do you do? How do you fix a computer that doesn’t want you to fix it? Don’t worry. Windows Safe Mode is a fantastic way to help you make your computer usable again. What is Safe Mode and how do you use it? Well, let’s find out.
What is Safe Mode?
Safe Mode is a way to start Windows ‘bare-bones’ which can give you some relief from certain problems. It limits your computer to only the vital functions needed to run which frees up resources and can eliminate nasty programs from being triggered at startup. It’s like stripping down a car to just the basics so it goes faster and has fewer parts that can fail. It’s a lot easier to narrow down where a rattle is coming from if there’s only a few parts left.
When there’s less to go wrong you can begin to start making things right. If a problem dissapears when you reboot in Safe Mode then you can start to narrow down the possible culprits. It can also be used to simply make things like virus scanners and diagnostic tools run better since they won’t be interfered with by competing programs.
Despite it’s name, Safe Mode is not a foolproof way of using Windows where you might think you can just do anything you want like a demo mode or testing environment. You don’t want to go messing with things just to see what happens. That would be really bad. So don’t go installing programs or changing settings just to see what would happen.
How to Boot into Safe Mode
- If you’re using Windows 7 or earlier, simply press the power button or restart the computer through the start menu.
- As the computer boots rapidly tap the ‘F8’ button.
- If you’ve done it right you should get a black screen with a list of options instead of the Window’s startup logo.
- If the Window’s startup logo appears don’t worry. Let the computer start up then shut it down properly and try again. It can be tricky to get the timing just right.
- At the desktop, click Start then Power to bring up the power menu.
- On this menu hold down the Shift button while clicking Restart.
- This will reboot the computer to a blue screen with some options. Click the icons in the following order to get to Safe Mode:
- Advanced Options
- Startup Settings
- Click the Restart button. This will reboot the computer to a new blue screen.
This Startup Setting screen has a list of startup options.
Boot Options for Safe Mode
After you get to the screen of options but you’ll only need to worry about the following two:
- Safe Mode: This option starts Windows truly ‘bare-bones’. In fact it will even shut off your ability to get on the internet.
- Safe Mode with Networking: If you need internet to fix your problem or think you might need to look up some help while you work then choose this option. This is your best choice since it’s
always handy to have the internet handy when working on a computer.
This screen doesn’t work with a mouse so you’ll have to use the keyboard to select the option. Windows will now start but in the Safe Mode that you chose.
Using Safe Mode
You’ll notice right away things look different when you are in Safe Mode. This is because your computer has disabled all your fancy graphics options. It will also have Safe Mode appear in the corners of the screen.
You can use Windows normally in Safe Mode but be aware that some things will not work like you expect. You’ll have to launch some programs manually that started automatically before. Also there will be some things that just won’t work at all. This is okay because you’re only using Safe Mode to do some basic repairs anyway. Some common things to do while in Safe Mode include:
Malware: Malware is particularly nasty because it actively tries to hide and disrupts your attempts to remove it. Using Safe Mode helps because it doesn’t automatically run all those infected background programs and gives you back some system resources. You’re then free to run a scan and get rid of those nasty infections.
Hardware Problems: Sometimes you can develop issues with your hardware drivers. When this happens it can be impossible to fix them normally because they are loaded automatically at startup. Using Safe Mode helps because it will load only the basic drivers needed to operate the computer so you can do updates easier.
Remove Programs: There are so many programs that want to constantly run and run automatically at startup. These can be tricky to remove because you can’t remove a running program and you can’t shut it down because it’s hiding in the background. It’s an annoying problem that’s easily remedied with Safe Mode. Since these programs won’t be automatically started in Safe Mode you can easily remove them and be free.
Troubleshooting: If you haven’t nailed down what the exact problem is then Safe Mode can help you narrow things down. If you reboot in safe mode and your problem goes away then you know it’s not an issue with basic windows services. A big relief. Then you can start testing where your problem lies by launching your usual programs one by one and seeing where it pops up. You’ll then know where to focus your attention so you can get it fixed.
Running Diagnostics: If you want to test your hardware or analyze your hard drive usage then Safe Mode can give you a clean environment to do it in.
Learn Safe Mode, Love Safe Mode
Safe Mode is your secret weapon to fixing Windows computers and is a must to know. So many common Windows problems can be solved by simply booting in Safe Mode. It’s perfectly safe to try out Safe Mode just to check it out. In fact it’s good to know how your computer works with Safe Mode before you have a problem. See what actually loads up and what works on your computer in Safe Mode. Every computer is a little different and it’s good to get to know yours so you can fix it yourself and save yourself all those headaches. We would also recommend software like the Advanced System CD for Maintenance and Recovery from Amazon. It will make your use of safe mode more productive!