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Win10 safe mode is a startup feature on your Windows 10 operating system. It is helpful for troubleshooting issues because it allows a tech to narrow down the potential areas where the problem is occurring.
If you troubleshoot on your own or just want to know more about Windows 10, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with safe mode. There may be a time when you find yourself needing to enter your computer in this mode instead of regularly booting up your system.
Learn more about what safe mode is and how it works. Find out the various ways to get your computer into safe mode, and discover why you may not even need it to troubleshoot your issues.
What Is Safe Mode Windows 10?
Safe mode Windows 10 is a specific starting state in which only the basic elements load. The common usage for it is to troubleshoot issues.
How Win10 safe mode works
Microsoft explains that safe mode uses only certain drivers and files to help you troubleshoot where a problem may be. In general, when you have an issue and start your computer in this mode, you will see if the problem persists. If it doesn’t, then that tells you the trouble is happening outside of the default settings.
According to How Stuff Works, the difference between safe mode and a standard boot is that most of the drivers on your computer will not load, and in some cases, different drivers load. For example, you will still need a graphics driver, but in safe mode, a standard driver loads instead of the one you would normally use.
Many files won’t run, but files essential to the operating system’s operation will still load. Some files only run in safe mode.
For example, a switch runs when you start up in safe mode that sends your computer through a test of the extended memory. The point of this is to check for issues, so it is assisting you in your troubleshooting.
These things all happen in the background as the computer boots up. What you will see is a minimal Windows desktop instead of your customized desktop. The words “safe mode” will be in each corner of your screen as well.
Two types of safe mode
Windows 10 has two types of safe mode. There is the regular version and then the safe mode with the networking version. The networking version will include drivers and programs related to internet access when regular safe mode does not.
By including your internet components, you can eliminate them as causing the problem. If they happen to be the location of the problem, then you can more easily figure out the issue by using both safe mode options to isolate the problem.
In addition, having the ability to access the internet in safe mode gives you a wider opportunity to do more thorough Windows troubleshooting.
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How to Restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode?
To restart in Win10 safe mode from your desktop:
- Swipe right
- Settings > change PC settings
- Update and recovery > recovery
- Refresh your PC without affecting your files > get started
When you are restarting in safe mode from the settings, you can also press the Windows logo key and the letter “I” at the same time instead of swiping right to get to the menu. Once it restarts, you will have the option for regular safe mode or safe mode with networking. Press the button corresponding to your choice, F4 for regular and F5 for with networking.
The version of Windows you use, Windows Home or Windows Pro, will not impact these instructions. You should be able to enter safe mode in any Windows 10 operating system using these steps.
How to Start Safe Mode Windows 10?
If your computer is not running, you can start it up in safe mode from the sign-in screen by holding the shift key and selecting power > restart.
There is an alternative method of starting up in Win10 safe mode when something is going on that prevents you from getting to the restart option. Once you choose to have it boot in safe mode, you want to make the following choices:
- On the Choose an Option screen, click troubleshoot
- Choose advanced options
- Select startup settings
- Click restart
Once the restart begins, you will get the option for starting up in regular mode or with networking mode.
How to Exit Safe Mode Windows 10?
The easiest way to exit safe mode in Windows 10 is by restarting your computer.
If for some reason, you cannot restart normally, you can do the following:
- Press the Windows logo key and R at the same time
- Type “MSConfig” (without the quotation marks) in the box
- Click ok
- Select the tab for boot
- Uncheck the safe boot box under the boot options
In the past, you could enter safe mode by pushing the F8 key while your computer booted up to the welcome screen. In Windows 10, this option does not work. It is a change made to help increase the speed of boot times.
Some people may mistakenly think that this is a sign Microsoft removed the safe mode, which is not true. Since the safe mode is not something users often need to access, Microsoft decided to forego the quick access method and speed up the loading process.
It’s a good call since it speaks to a bigger audience of users who prefer a faster loading OS.
What Happened to Safe Mode in Windows 10?
Tech experts use safe mode Windows 10 less often because the recovery function works much better to help with virus issues.
The main reason for using Win10 safe mode is to troubleshoot issues. More often than not, problems that trigger troubleshooting relate to viruses. One of the first steps, prior to using safe mode, is to use the recovery feature. The recovery feature’s design is to roll back your computer to a time before the issues occurring.
In older versions of Windows, the recovery feature didn’t work very well. It would not resist the viruses and allowed them to install themselves in the backup on your computer. So, even if you did a system restore, the virus would still be present.
With Windows 10, recovery improved to prevent the viruses from doing this. So, now you can simply use recovery to roll back, which will often stop your problems. Since it works in the majority of cases, you do not need to go into safe mode to do further troubleshooting.
The result is that people just don’t use Win10 safe mode as often as they used to because there is no need to use it. They can more easily fix issues with recovery and not have to go into major troubleshooting tactics.
Additional Windows security
On top of the changes with the recovery feature, Windows 10 is a more secure system overall. According to ZDNet, Windows 10 has a built-in anti-virus program called Windows Defender. It is automatically running on your computer when you boot up.
Because of this, fewer computers are running without protection, which makes it much more difficult for viruses to take root. It requires no effort on your part. In fact, you really only have to do anything with it if you want to turn it off. Most people won’t mess with it, so it runs in the background, keeping computers safe.
More about Defender
Windows Defender is a fairly decent program. Microsoft keeps working on improvements for it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it is free with your Windows 10 OS.
Microsoft also pairs Defender with other automatic features that allow Defender to focus on its main job of fighting viruses. For example, the safe browsing feature blocks malware. It also includes cloud-based protection that works in conjunction with Defender to protect your PC.
A safer computer means far fewer issues with viruses and other malware that will cause your computer to run in a way that would require troubleshooting. So, techs are doing far less work combating these issues and don’t need to use safe mode as often in general.
Win10 safe mode is an option for tackling problems with your computer. It allows you to enter a light version of your system that eliminates many of the areas in which the issue could be. By booting in safe mode, you can easily see if you have a problem with your computer’s basic programs and drivers.
Since troubleshooting tech issues are often about elimination, safe mode gives you the chance to check out basic programs and drivers and then adding in networking programs while excluding all the other stuff on your system. If these things work fine, you know to check into the other programs on your device that could be causing the trouble.
Learning how to use safe mode is a good idea even if you won’t be troubleshooting your device yourself because you may find a time in the future it will come in handy. Make sure you at least test out the different methods for entering safe mode that you just learned about so if you need it, you can access it.