How do I Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode?

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By Susith Nonis

Whenever something happens with Windows, we usually do a manual reboot, and in most cases, the problem is resolved. But what happens if the problem persists and even after multiple restarts, you are stuck with the same error, and it won’t let go of your system? In that case, Windows Safe Mode will help you understand what caused the error to occur in the first place.

As the operating systems started to become more complex, so did the errors. There are constant driver and application updates, and sometimes they have bugs that won’t let the system run the way it is meant to be. In such cases, the Safe Mode is the best option to get your PC started as it loads the minimal set of drivers needed to run the system.

Know that Windows Safe Mode is a built-in functionality and not a third-party software that you need to download and install. All in all, safe mode provides an environment where you may find it easier to roll back drivers and use certain tricks to troubleshoot your system and deal with a Windows startup problem.

Today we are going to show you how you can start your Windows 10 in Safe Mode and what are the different options in this mode that you can choose when restarting your computer.

What is Windows Safe Mode?

We all know how powerful Windows is, but there are times when its versatility causes a lot of frustration in users. The frustration is more evident when we are installing new software on our computer, and it asks us to download the latest drivers.

There was a time when you needed to have a particular DirectX file to play certain games, and you need to go to the internet to download those specific files and then paste them into the DirectX folder to make the game run. If you don’t do this, the game won’t run.

The same thing happens with software and other applications, but for software, you need to download or update your driver, and sometimes these drivers are not compatible. As a result, you will end up locking your computer, and the system won’t even let you reach your desktop screen and shut down while showing you the “blue screen of death.”

Well, what now, how can you move past the blue screen of death? Well, that’s where Windows Safe Mode comes to the rescue. It is a unique way to load up Windows when the error is system-critical, and it interferes with the normal working of the operating system.

The primary purpose of the safe mode is to enable the user to troubleshoot Windows and give them the necessary data to find out what created the problem in the first place. Once you made changes in the safe mode by, for example, deleting the newly installed drivers for the application, you can restart your computer, and it will load normally.

How to Know if You are in Safe Mode?

It is pretty easy to find out if you are running your Windows in Safe Mode or not. Given below are some changes that you will see once your computer enters the Safe Mode:

  • When you are in safe mode, it won’t let you run autoexc.bat or config.sys files.
  • Most of the device drivers that you have installed are now rolled back to their older versions that came built-in with the Windows. A device driver is some software that makes it possible for Windows to make a connection and communicate with different pieces of hardware such as printers, joysticks, and scanners.
  • You are also going to see reduced screen brightness. That’s because the screen is not using the external GPU to push the pixels to your screen. Safe mode uses standard VGA graphics mode, and this mode also supports all the Windows-compatible video cards.
  • Also, the desktop will have 16-bit color, and the resolution will turn down to 640 x 480 pixels.
  • Lastly, the most significant difference and the most prominent one is that you can actually see that safe mode is written on the four corners of your screen.

Different Safe Mode Options

Initiating the safe mode has 3 options. Each one of them is explained below:

1. Safe Mode

This is the primary safe mode and has all the basic configurations loaded in it. This safe mode will have your fonts and icons look bigger and not so sharp. Well, that’s because it only loads those drivers that are necessary to run the Windows in safe mode.

Every standard Windows functionality will be available. In addition to this, users can also take the assistance of built-in troubleshooting tools, such as Command Prompt, PowerShell, Computer Manager, Device Manager, and Event Log Viewer.

2. Safe Mode With Networking

This safe mode option is available for users to get connected to the internet and complete any of their pending tasks if they have any. On the other hand, if you are looking to install a new antivirus to see if there is any malware present in your computer, then you should choose the safe mode with networking.

It will allow you to download antivirus from the internet and run it safely. Well, you need to be careful when you are using the internet during the safe mode as your system is still vulnerable, and all the protection protocols are down.

3. Safe Mode With Command Prompt

This is the least favorite safe mode for most users as this doesn’t have any GUI that you get in the other 2 variants of the Safe Mode. This form of safe mode is only for those who are experts and can carry out advanced troubleshooting without any GUI or assistance.

Are There Any Other Options Other Than the Safe Mode?

If your safe mode is not working and the problem is still there, then the next logical thing would be to connect a Pendrive with a Windows image and reboot the system. It will take you to the initial setup of the Windows, and from there, you get to choose among the 2 options.

Either you can go with the repair option, or you can wipe out your current copy of Windows and install a new one. There was a time when installing Windows would have taken you hours, but with fast SSDs, users can now install Windows in less than 15 minutes, and within the next 15 more minutes, you’re good to go.

You need to have a backup of your files before you actually go for a completely new Windows installation, as it will wipe out all the data, which you have stored on the drive where the previous Windows copy is installed.

When Can a Safe Mode Help You?

Safe mode can be helpful in a lot of ways, but foremost it gives you the ability to run your computer without any crashes and errors. Indeed you can’t run Windows in the safe mode all the time if you want to. You need to go back to the standard version as there are a lot of drivers which Windows won’t allow to operate when it is in the safe mode.

The Windows Safe Mode can be beneficial when you have recently installed a new application in your system, and it starts showing errors. Lastly, troubleshooting the error is the primary intent of safe mode.

How do You Start Safe Mode and Fix Your PC?

If your Windows was not able to load up correctly in the previous attempt, then safe mode would start up automatically. In case the system doesn’t do it automatically, you can press F5 or F8 to boot the system in safe mode manually.

The second method to start your system in safe mode is by holding the shift button while choosing the power options on your desktop screen. The sub-menu will open in front of you.

Now click on troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. When your computer restarts and the startup setting screen is visible to you, then you need to press the F4 key.

Now that you have entered the safe mode, you can now do most of the tasks that you do in your regular Windows. So go ahead and follow these troubleshooting tips to see which application, update, or file is holding back Windows from launching normally:

  • Scan For Malware

In the safe mode, you have your own fully-fledged working antivirus. Use it to scan any malware that might be present in your system and causing the error. Remove it using the antivirus.

Sometimes when you start your computer in standard Windows mode, the malware will automatically run in the background as soon as Windows boot up and don’t let the windows perform at its optimal speed, causing it to crash.

In the safe mode, all new installations will be rolled off, and you will be able to scan your computer with the antivirus. If your system doesn’t have an antivirus, you can download it on your computer using the internet and then check your computer. Avira, for example, allows users to scan and remove malware from their computers for the first 14 days free of cost.

  • Run a System Restore

In case your system is working completely fine, and there was no problem at all, but now it’s been having some issues. Then in the safe mode, you can go back to the previous version, which is running just fine using system restore. Windows will do everything on its own to set up your computer to the last well working configuration.

  • Remove Recently Installed Files

There are times when we already know that there is something fishy about the website or software, and when your computer starts behaving abnormally after installing it, you know you have to uninstall the program from your system. From the safe mode, you can quickly go to the control panel and remove the program to make your Windows run smoothly in the normal mode.

  • Update Hardware Drivers

Another reason for Windows to stop operating correctly is that your hardware is causing instability issues. Your graphics card driver might have crashed and thus, caused your system to show a blue screen. The same thing could happen with the audio drivers as well.

In this case, you can go to the driver’s website in safe mode to download and install the latest version of the same that is compatible with your hardware and operating system.

  • If Crash Occurs in Safe Mode

Well, this is something we all dislike, but in some cases, your hardware might have given up and it’s time to replace it. The clear sign of hardware failure would be that you won’t be able to run your computer even in safe mode, and it keeps on crashing no matter how different options you choose to run in safe mode.

The frequent crashing of your Windows even in the safe mode is a clear hint of your computer hardware not working correctly.

What If the Windows Safe Mode Fails and You Need to Reboot The System?

If Windows safe mode failed to get your computer back to working flawlessly, you need to look for other options to make your system work again. A lot of times, people don’t think about finding the problem and instead, rolls back Windows to make the system run smoothly.

On the other hand, if there is nothing important in your system and all the files can be restored from your email or the cloud. Then you could go with the second option, and that is to delete the current Windows 10 from your computer and install a fresh copy of Windows 10.

From Windows 8, Microsoft has added the option of Windows refresh, which preserves all your files while replacing the system software only.


Well, if you have done everything which we have listed in this article and still the computer won’t run without showing errors and crashes, then it’s time to find the hardware that is causing the issue and not letting your Windows run as you wanted it to.

Also, once you reinstall Windows, there is no way that a system will show an error due to software as there is nothing installed in the system yet, and from the software side of things, it is entirely fresh.

We hope this article finds you at the right time, and with our little assistance, your system is now back on track to provide you with the experience for which you bought it in the first place. If there is some specific error that is showing up on your screen, then you can comment down that error, and we will look into it to give our views on it at the earliest possible.

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