ARCHIVED: In Windows, how can I boot into Safe Mode?
Safe Mode is a special diagnostic version of Windows that bypasses some Windows startup files. If you have a problem with your hardware configuration or your computer's display drivers that prevents Windows from loading normally, you may be able to resolve the problem by booting into Safe Mode and changing the relevant settings. To enter Safe Mode in Windows 7, Vista, XP, or 2000:
Note: If you have more than one partition installed,
you may need to select an operating system and press
Enter before entering Safe Mode.
- Turn on or restart your computer.
- After the memory test, the words "Starting Windows" will appear on
a black background. When this happens, press and hold the
F8key. This will present a screen with the following options to choose from. The exact moment that
F8is pressed will determine the contents of the list, and the list may vary from computer to computer. For example, your computer may not do a memory test or it may have a SCSI BIOS to load in addition to the motherboard's BIOS. If you have trouble getting the list below to appear, restart the computer and then press
F8repeatedly while the computer is starting.
Safe Mode: Boots Windows with only the basic
drivers needed to load the operating system. Uses basic drivers for
mouse, keyboard, display (VGA), mass storage, and default system
services and drivers, with no network components. In Windows 2000, a
log file will be created to track the progress of the system boot,
which is located in the
Safe Mode with Networking: Loads the Safe Mode
configuration, but also enables network devices and services. In
Windows 2000, a log file will be created to track the progress of the
system boot, which is located in the
Safe Mode with Command Prompt: Loads Windows in
Safe Mode, and, after logging in, opens a command prompt instead of
the normal desktop. In Windows 2000, a log file will be created to
track the progress of the system boot, which is located in the
Note: You should try booting to the command prompt only if you feel comfortable operating within the DOS environment.
Enable Boot Logging: Boots Windows with all of
the normal files and drivers, but writes their status to a log file at
each step. In Windows 2000, this log file is located in the
Windows 2000folder and is named
Enable VGA Mode: Boots Windows using a plain VGA
16-color 640x480 display driver for the highest level of compatibility
with video cards. In Windows 7 and Vista, this mode is called
Enable Low-Resolution Video. It is otherwise identical.
Last Known Good Configuration: Boots Windows
using the last registry configuration that is known to
work. This is a way of undoing problems created by installing
incorrect drivers or possibly by registry corruption. It will not,
however, fix problems caused by corrupted or missing files.
Debugging Mode: Boots Windows while sending debug
information through a serial port to another computer. It's useful in
the case of a persistent "blue screen" or "stop" error.
Directory Services Restore Mode: Windows 7 and
Vista only. Starts the Windows domain controller running Active
Directory so that directory service can be restored. This option is
intended for system administrators.
Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure:
Windows 7 and Vista only. This option is intended to correct a loop
wherein Windows fails, reboots, and fails again, thus initiating
Disable Driver Signature Enforcement: Windows 7
and Vista only. Windows 7 and Vista, by default, insist on properly
Signed drivers. A driver is considered to have a valid "Driver
Signature" only after it has been tested and approved by
Microsoft. Some advanced users prefer to use certain third-party
drivers, which are not tested by Microsoft. This option enables the
system to use third-party, non-Microsoft approved drivers, though at
their own risk.
- Repair Your Computer: Windows 7 only. View a list of system recovery tools you can use to repair startup problems, run diagnostics, or restore your system.
- Safe Mode: Boots Windows with only the basic drivers needed to load the operating system. Uses basic drivers for mouse, keyboard, display (VGA), mass storage, and default system services and drivers, with no network components. In Windows 2000, a log file will be created to track the progress of the system boot, which is located in the
- Use the arrow keys to move up or down this menu to make your
selection, and then press
Enter. If you need to update software or access the Internet while in Safe Mode, select "Safe Mode with Networking".
Last modified on November 16, 2012.