What can I do in safe mode on my computer?
You must have seen an option “Safe mode” specifically when your computer will not boot or has a runtime error followed by a reboot. While rebooting, it suddenly stops on a black & white screen with several options in front of you to choose from, including safe mode. You can also enter Safe mode by pressing certain keys on your computer keyboard when the computer is starting up.
Unless you are a computer whiz, a question might pop up in your mind – what is safe mode all about and what can I do in safe mode? Many of us often don’t have much clue so we proceed with the other more practical option that says “Start windows normally”. But, choosing the normal mode sometimes may not bring anything good if there is an error in the PC, especially a device driver fault. Taking safe mode will be your best bet to boot up and fix the error.
Safe mode is therefore a boot up option that allows you to troubleshoot your computer and take care of problems such as removing and re-installing non-functioning devices (device driver software), restoring your system to a previous condition that worked, or even removing viruses. There are several things that occur when you select safe mode that differs from a normal boot up:
- It boots up with only the smallest subset of configuration parameters that are absolutely necessary to boot a PC.
- Most device drivers like printers, scanners or even the networking devices are not loaded.
- VGA graphics mode is used while your PC’s own hi-resolution graphics features remain suspended.
- You will see “Safe Mode” written on all corners of your screen.
Types of Safe Mode
Other than the standard safe mode, there is ‘Safe Mode with Networking’ and ‘Safe Mode with Command Prompt’. Safe Mode with Networking allows you access to the internet, so that you can download any needed software or updates. Safe Mode with Command Prompt gives you safe mode with Windows Command Interface allowing you to use DOS commands if necessary. Safe Mode with Command Prompt is for advanced computer users who know how to run DOS commands.
Accessing Safe Mode
There are two options to log on to safe mode.
- When your computer is booting up, repeatedly press F8. This will take you the Windows Advanced Options Menu where you will find safe mode option.
- When your computer is booting up, repeatedly press F5. This will directly take you to safe mode.
What Can I Do in Safe Mode?
There are various uses of Safe Mode. This article will explain a few of them.
If your computer catches a virus, spyware, malware, worm or adware, not only it can slow down your computer or steal private data, it can also alter the system files (including configuration parameters) so that the computer cannot run efficiently. Even your anti-virus software may be altered in such a way that it is not aware of the virus. Using the standard boot up process to find and remove a virus will prove very difficult.
You can boot using safe mode to deal with this problem. Open your anti-virus software and run a full system scan. Running your anti-virus or anti-spyware in safe mode in many cases can detect and eliminate any trouble making malware or virus causing havoc in your PC. However, if the virus your PC is hosting is nothing less than a monster, and taken your antivirus program under its control, it might be hard to say goodbye to it even in safe mode.
When you are having major system problems on your computer that appeared recently and do not seem to get resolved, one of the best solutions is to conduct a system restore. A system restore will restore your computer’s system files to a prior point of time. It does this without affecting your personal data such as pictures, documents, music, etc. However, what if you are unable to boot up properly? What if, in the Windows Advanced Options Boot Menu, the option to boot on ‘Last Know Good Configuration’ does not work? In that case, you boot up using safe mode. Safe mode will let you boot up not matter what the issue is.
You can access System Restore by opening the Windows Start menu. From there, you open Programs > Accessories > System Tools. In System Tools, you will find ‘System Restore’. Open the ‘System Restore’ window. A list of restore points will be presented in front of you. Select the one you want and click ‘Next’. The computer will restart and restore itself to the previous settings.
Note – you should have enabled System Restore on your computer to be able to use this feature.
If you have been a Windows user for a very long time, being affected by sudden freezes, crashes, the “Blue Screen of Death” and sluggish performance should be nothing new. Safe mode enables you to safely navigate through your system and installed software and identifies the cause of the problem. You will be able to directly access the executable file of the installed programs and find out what is causing the problem. Once you locate the program that has been causing the problem you can disable it.
Ever installed new software in your PC and found that something has seriously gone wrong such as booting with errors, freezing or crashing? Then, when you tried to uninstall that software, were you unable to do so? That could also happen when the software you have installed is full of bugs in it. But don’t lose heart as you have safe mode to help you out in this case also. You will not be denied to uninstall, reinstall or update the software in safe mode because that bug-filled program is not running with its branches during safe mode; hence it cannot interfere with the system functions.
One of the main reasons why you have such a sluggish start up is because of the large number of programs that automatically run when Windows loads. When you log on to safe mode, your system won’t load any of these programs and from there you can disable it from auto-starting using System Configuration Utility.
Open the Start panel and click on Run. In the ‘Run’ window, type ‘msconfig’. The System Configuration Utility window will open. Select the ‘Start Up’ tab as shown in the image below. Here you will be able to disable the programs.
These are the five basic fixes that you can use Safe mode for. Hope you will try safe mode next time you encounter some of the computer errors discussed above.