What is Safe Mode?

Posted by: Maxine Brimmer (3 years, 2 months ago)

It’s probably happened to every Windows user at some time or another: in the middle of using multiple programs or installing new software, your computer suddenly crashes or locks up. You reboot the computer but this time the desktop looks strange, and the words “Safe Mode” are written in all four corners of the screen. What exactly is this Safe Mode?

Largely, you can use a computer in safe mode as you would normally use it, however Windows may not run as quickly as you’re used to in some sections. When safe mode starts on your computer, it means Windows is using the minimum possible drivers for the operating system to function. Since safe mode is usually used to troubleshoot the system-critical problem which caused your PC to crash, running the computer as simply as possible allows the error to be more easily identified and fixed.  Once the problem which was keeping Windows from running normally has been found, the PC can be restarted and taken out of safe mode.

When safe mode is activated after a crash, many non-essential functions of a PC cannot be used. For example:  in safe mode, device drivers are turned off, meaning the computer cannot communicate with hardware such as printers and scanners, Windows also loads the desktop up in a simple 16 color format and a 640 x 480 screen resolution.

Safe mode will start automatically after a crash or system shut down if Windows cannot boot properly on the previous attempt. It is also possible for a user to open safe mode manually on their computer by pressing F8 whilst the computer is booting up and then selecting safe mode from the menu. In Windows 8, you may also access Safe Mode from the Startup Sessions Menu.

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