How to: Start and exit Windows 10 in Safe Mode

How to: Start and exit Windows 10 in Safe Mode

How to boot Windows 10 securely and then return to normal boot.

Most of the time it's fine just to start Windows 10 up in normal mode. But if something goes wrong on your PC, you might want to try loading it in Safe Mode. This is a great and breathe-easy alternative way to boot your PC when an application isn't working properly, you think you've been hit by a virus or malware attack, or your computer just isn't running as it should.

What is Safe Mode?

Safe mode starts up your PC using only some of the files and drivers installed on your system (those that are vital to run your device's core operations).

If the problem you're experiencing doesn't occur when you boot up using Safe Mode, you can be pretty sure it's not an issue affecting the core running of your machine, but instead something to do with software you've installed, downloaded or created.

Safe mode comprises two different versions: plain old Safe Mode, which restricts network access, and Safe Mode with networking, which does connect to the network. It's best to use Safe Mode without connecting to the internet if you think you've been hacked or stung by§ malware, because this will (hopefully) prevent it spreading across the entire network to other devices. It will also quarantine your machine while you attempt to fix the problem.

Why launch in Safe Mode?

Launching in Safe Mode will not only allow you to better identify the problem you're experiencing, but it will also ensure your computer starts up in the most protected environment to prevent any further damage from happening.

Although it may not troubleshoot everything, it's a sure-fire way to stop any malicious activity getting worse or moving beyond your own PC. If it's possible to fix your computer, it's always safer to try to do so using Safe Mode.

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode

There are two ways to launch Safe Mode on your computer - either via the settings menu, if you can access it, or when you reach the sign-in screen.

Via the Settings menu

From your Start Screen, press the Windows button and the power button on your keyboard to open the Settings Menu using a shortcut. However, if that doesn't work, you can enter the menu by selecting the Start button at the bottom of your screen and then navigating to settings.

Once you're in the settings menu, select Update & security and then Recovery. When the screen throws up the advanced settings, select Restart now.

Your computer will now restart, presenting the Choose an option screen. From here, select Troubleshoot - Advanced Options - Startup Settings, then Restart.

Your PC will reboot again and this time, you'll be able to choose to start up in either Safe Mode (option 4, or select it by pressing F4) or Safe Mode With Networking (option 5; tap F4 if you can't choose it manually).

Via the sign-in screen

If you've just started up your PC to find it's not working correctly, you can also reboot using Safe Mode when you arrive at the sign-in screen.

To do this, hold down the Shift button on your keyboard, then select Power and Restart. When your computer reboots, it should open up the same Choose an option screen, as is the case when you restart your computer in Safe Mode via the settings menu.

Once again, select Restart from the Startup Settings menu that you'll find if you select Troubleshoot; then select Advanced Options and choose either option 4 or press F4 on your keyboard to boot up in Safe Mode, or option 5 (F5) if you need to access the internet in Safe Mode.

When to call a professional

Once you're running Safe Mode,you can start to investigate into the problems you're experiencing with your computer and try to fix them.

However, if you're not confident trying to fix the issue yourself, it's always best to call in professional help either from your IT department or a third-party company to make sure you don't damage your PC permanently.

If your computer is presenting the black screen of death and you're unable to do anything at all, hit CTRL, ALT, DELETE to bring up the logout screen, select Restart and ensure you press down the Shift button to take you to the Choose an option screen, from which you can select Safe Mode.

How to use msconfig to launch Safe Mode

If you would rather launch Safe Mode using the command line rather than going through the rather time consuming steps above, you can instead launch msconfig from the Start Screen by typing it in, then choosing Launch System Configuration from the list of options. Next, select Boot.

When the menu pops up, tick the Safe Boot box and choose which variation of Safe Mode you want to boot up in. Click OK and hey presto! Your Windows 10 machine will start up in Safe Mode.

How to get to the old Windows 7 Advanced Options screen

If you're used to using older versions of Windows, you may want to use the older Advanced Boot Options that are no longer visible in Windows 10.

To do this, you'll need to create a bootable USB flash drive or DVD, which you'll need to do on another computer if your machine isn't working. It's a good idea to have one already made up though, just in case you experience problems in future.

To access the legacy Advanced Options from this bootable drive, pop the USB drive or DVD into your machine and boot from it (you may have to adjust the BIOS boot settings), select your language and when you arrive at the Repair your computer page, choose Troubleshoot, Advanced Options and Command Prompt.

Now, type in the disk destination (such as c:) and press enter. Now, type in bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy followed by enter, then type exit and return to quit the Command Prompt. Remove the USB or DVD and when you reboot your computer, it will use the old-school boot. Tap F8 to get to the Advanced Options where you can choose to boot up in Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, Safe Mode with Command Prompt or any other available option.

How to exit Windows 10 in Safe Mode

Once you're in Safe Mode and, hopefully, have corrected the problem with your computer, you'll want to test it's worked. To do this, you'll need to exit from Safe Mode. You can do this once again using msconfig. Head to the Start Menu and type in msconfig to bring up the System Configuration menu.

Go to the Boot option at the bottom of the screen, untick Safe Boot, select apply and OK. you may be asked to reboot for the changes to take effect, or just restart manually to relaunch your computer in normal mode.

This article originally appeared at

Copyright © ITPro, Dennis Publishing

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