Windows 7 / Getting Started

How to Start in Safe Mode

Safe mode is a diagnostic environment that runs only a subset of the drivers and services that are configured to start in normal mode. Safe mode is useful when you install software or a device driver that causes instability or problems with starting in normal mode. Often, Windows can start in safe mode even if hardware failure prevents it from starting in normal mode. In most cases, safe mode allows you to start Windows and then troubleshoot problems that prevent startup.

Logging on to the computer in safe mode does not update the LastKnownGood control set. Therefore, if you log on to your computer in safe mode and then decide you want to try Last Known Good Configuration, this option is still available to you.

In safe mode, Windows uses the minimum set required to start the GUI. The following registry subkeys list the drivers and services that start in safe mode:

  • Safe mode: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal
  • Safe mode with networking: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Network

To access safe mode, follow these steps:

  1. Remove all floppy disks and CDs from your computer and then restart your computer.
  2. Press F8 at the operating system menu. If the operating system menu does not appear, press F8 repeatedly after the firmware POST process completes but before the Starting Windows logo appears. The Advanced Boot Options menu appears.
  3. On the Advanced Boot Options menu, select Safe Mode, Safe Mode With Networking, or Safe Mode With Command Prompt. Select Safe Mode if you do not require networking support. Select Safe Mode With Networking if you require access to the network for your troubleshooting-for example, if you must download an updated driver. Select Safe Mode With Command Prompt if you want to work at a command prompt.

When Windows starts, it reads status information from the file %SystemRoot%\Bootstat.dat. If Windows detects that the last startup attempt was unsuccessful, it automatically displays the startup recovery menu, which provides startup options similar to the Advanced Boot Options menu, without requiring you to press F8.

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In this tutorial:

  1. Configuring Startup and Troubleshooting Startup Issues
  2. What is New with Windows Startup
  3. Boot Configuration Data
  4. BCD Stores
  5. System Recovery
  6. Windows Boot Performance Diagnostics
  7. Understanding the Startup Process
  8. Power-on Self Test Phase
  9. Initial Startup Phase
  10. Initial Startup Phase for BIOS Computers
  11. Initial Startup Phase for EFI Computers
  12. Windows Boot Manager Phase
  13. Windows Boot Loader Phase
  14. Kernel Loading Phase
  15. Control Sets
  16. Values for the Start Registry Entry
  17. Value Descriptions for Type Entries
  18. Other Registry Entries in the Servicename Subkeys
  19. Session Manager
  20. Logon Phase
  21. Important Startup Files
  22. How to Configure Startup Settings
  23. How to Use the Startup And Recovery Dialog Box
  24. How to Use the System Configuration Tool
  25. How to Use BCDEdit
  26. How to Interpret BCDEdit Output
  27. How to Back Up and Restore Settings
  28. How to Change the Default Operating System Entry
  29. How to Change the Boot Menu Time-Out
  30. How to Change the Order of Boot Manager Menu Items
  31. How to Create an Entry for Another Operating System
  32. How to Remove a Boot Entry
  33. How to View and Update Global Debugger Settings
  34. How to Remove the Windows 7 Boot Loader
  35. How to Configure a User Account to Automatically Log On
  36. How to Disable the Windows Startup Sound
  37. How to Speed Up the Startup Process
  38. The Process of Troubleshooting Startup
  39. Startup Troubleshooting Before the Starting Windows Logo Appears
  40. How to Start the System Recovery Tools
  41. How to Run Startup Repair
  42. How to Use BootRec.exe
  43. How to Diagnose Hardware Problems
  44. How to Use System Restore
  45. How to Manually Repair the Boot Sector
  46. How to Manually Update the BCD Registry File
  47. How to Manually Replace Files
  48. How to Reinstall Windows
  49. Startup Troubleshooting After the Starting Windows Logo Appears
  50. How to Restore the Last Known Good Configuration
  51. How to Enable Boot Logging
  52. How to Start in Safe Mode
  53. How to Identify Failing Drivers and Services
  54. How to Analyze Startup Problems in Safe Mode
  55. Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  56. System Information
  57. Error Reporting Service
  58. How to Use Device Manager to View or Change Resources
  59. How to Analyze Boot Logs
  60. How to Roll Back Drivers
  61. How to Temporarily Disable a Service
  62. Troubleshooting Startup Problems After Logon
  63. How to Temporarily Disable Startup Applications and Processes
  64. How to Disable Startup Applications Using the Shift Key
  65. How to Disable Startup Programs Using the System Configuration Utility
  66. How to Disable Startup Applications Configured Using Group Policy or Logon Scripts
  67. How to Permanently Disable Startup Applications and Processes
  68. Manually Remove the Entry