This is how useful Windows safe mode is

It will be impossible for you not to have ever encountered a problem that prevents you from completing the standard boot of a Windows PC. There are times that will be so severe that you will have to use the ‘reset’ function and in extreme cases take the bull by the horns and go further with a clean install.

Before all of this we recommend you try Windows safe mode. It is one of those legacy tools that has been with us since Windows 95, but it is still just as useful in situations where full system load is not possible by one of the errors that haunt the Microsoft system, conflicting applications, incompatible drivers or that malware that abounds for Windows is loaded into memory at boot preventing to reach the desktop.

There are really times when this is the only way if we cannot perform a normal boot with all services loaded. Once inside this environment, which is also known by such descriptive names as “fail-safe boot” o “fail-safe startup”If you use the “fail-safe boot” function, it is easier to use functions to repair errors or recover the system.

Accessing Windows Safe Mode (8, 10 and 11)

Until Windows 7, accessing this special mode was as simple as pressing the function key ‘F8’ during computer boot. Since Windows 8 with the implementation of the new UEFI firmware and the explosion of solid state drives for internal storage, this way does not work on many modern computers. Fortunately, there are other methods that we are going to remind you.

Shift + F8

This is the fastest method to boot into Windows safe mode, but it does not work on all computers either. The reason is as mentioned above. The speed of the new UEFI BIOS added to that of a PCI-Express solid state drive does not allow time to interrupt the normal boot process and enter safe mode. If you use hard drives as the main drive it usually works, it does work in Windows 10 and 11.

Shift + Reboot

Another way to access is even simpler because it is achieved with a click by pressing the shift key on system reboot. Open the Start menu and click on the Shutdown button. With the shift key pressed, click on the reset button. You will be taken to another setup screen that will allow you to access safe mode, via “Troubleshooting-Advanced Options-Startup Settings”.


One of the options that do not fail is to use the system configuration tool ‘msconfig.exe’ , either with the ‘run’ application of the control panel or by using the Windows + R key combination.

Windows 10 safe mode

Once in the system configurator, go to the ‘Boot’ tab and enable ‘Safe boot’ with the options you need, such as the basic ‘minimum’. The application will offer you to reboot the system and when you do so you will automatically enter Windows 10 safe mode.

Windows 10 safe mode

Restart the system and you will be taken to a screen that will allow you to boot into this safe mode, with network functions, with command prompt, etc.

USB / DVD recovery

In situations when none of the above methods work, this mode can also be accessed from external bootable drives. In Windows they can be created using the “Recovery Drive” tool on DVDs or external USB drives. Once created, these recovery media include several tools including the ability to access safe mode by activating “Troubleshooting-Advanced Options-Startup Settings”.

Windows Safe Mode (Advanced)

This “fail-safe boot” is not a method that an ordinary user is going to use regularly, but if you are interested in having it as handy as possible, you can also add it to the boot menu of Windows 10, Windows 11 or earlier, which will make it easier to access at every system reboot. You have to do several steps, as follows:

  • The first thing is to create an entry containing the loading parameters of the operating system. When Windows is installed, a standard default boot entry is created and loaded each time the computer is started. If that boot entry is unique the computer is loaded automatically. If you have several, as when installing other Windows operating systems, it will display a menu with the different boot options.


  • To add the corresponding ones to the safe mode we need the Windows console. Enter the command prompt (as administrator) by right clicking on the start button or with the key combination “Windows + X”.
  • Copy and paste the following command and press enter: bcdedit /copy {current} /d “Windows 10 Safe Mode” (you can put any name you want in quotes. That will be the one you see in the boot menu.
  • Additionally, and with the same command, you can create other entries allowed in safe mode, for example to access via the command prompt without GUI. We add another entry as proof of this: bcdedit /copy {current} /d “Test MuyComputer Safe Mode”.

So far we have only created the entries for the boot menu so if we do not configure them we will not see any effect. We will do it with the system configuration tool.

  • Right-click on the start button or with the key combination “Windows + R” to enter the run function. Type msconfig.

  • Go to the Startup tab and as you will see, we will already have available the two new entries added in the previous step next to the standard default entry created in the Windows installation.


  • Click on the one we have created for “Safe Mode” and configure it according to your needs. In this case we check the option “Safe boot” in its “Minimum” option and activate the option “Make all boot settings permanent”.


  • Click on the second entry added and configure it in the same way. For example with alternate shell, only with network functions or with the parameters you are interested in.


  • The system configurator also allows you to configure the “Timeout” in seconds to boot up, set the default entry which will normally be the one created at installation or access the advanced options where we can assign the number of processors or the maximum amount of memory.


  • If you do not need them later, to delete any of the created entries you only need to select them and click on the delete button.

Once all the entries have been configured we only have to apply them receiving the corresponding warning of the changes. To check what we have done we only need to restart the equipment. You will see that the system shows us a boot menu with the possibility to select the three inputs, as well as the possibility to change the default values of them or choose other options.


To avoid wasting time, you can simply select a couple of seconds as timeout and the entry created in the Windows installation as default. This way it will always boot the system by default without selecting any, but we will also have access to other boot methods such as this safe mode, whenever we need it and in a very simple way.

Although not as fast as the popular ‘F8’ access to the safe mode of Windows is not only possible but its functions have increased since Windows 10. Remember this because you will surely have to use it on more than one occasion to be a method that sometimes becomes essential to recover the proper functioning of your PC.

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