Fri Aug 09 2019

What is "safe mode" in Windows and how does it work?

Operating System1016 views

Safe Mode in Windows

In today's market, Microsoft's Windows is one of the versatile and powerful operating systems. There are several features provide in Windows operating system. And "Safe mode" is one of them.

What is this?

In this post, we are going to explore all aspects about this "Safe mode" in Windows OS.

So, let's get started -

Safe mode

Safe Mode is a special way for Windows to load when there is a system-critical problem that interferes with the normal operation of Windows. The purpose of Safe Mode is to allow you to troubleshoot Windows and try to determine what is causing it to not function correctly. Once you have corrected the problem, then you can reboot and Windows will load normally. It's a diagnostic mode of a computer operating system. It can also refer to a mode of operation by application software and also widely used for removing rogue security software.

Instead of the normal graphics device driver, Safe Mode uses standard VGA graphics mode. This mode is supported by all Windows-compatible video cards. That means you will likely be working with only 16 colors in a resolution of 640x480. Safe Mode also turns off all third-party drivers for other peripherals such as mice, keyboards, printers, and scanners.

Why would Safe Mode perform?

Sometimes, Windows may not fully load after an unexpected crash and the only way to get the computer to boot is to use Safe Mode. Once you have successfully booted the computer in Safe Mode, you can run a disk utility program to repair corrupted files or directories on the hard drive. You can also reboot into Safe Mode to see your display when you get a "Sync Out of Range" message on your screen.

Let see how does it work?

In safe mode, an operating system has reduced functionality, but the task of isolating problems is easier since many non-core components are disabled, such as sound. An installation that will only boot into safe mode typically has a major problem, such as disk corruption or the installation of poorly-configured software that prevents the operating system from successfully booting into its normal operating mode.

Though it varies by operating system, safe mode typically loads only essential executable modules and disables devices except for those necessary to display information and accept input. It can also take the form of a parallel "miniature" operating system that has no configuration information shared with the normal operating system. For example, on Microsoft Windows, the user can also choose to boot to the Recovery Console, a small text-based troubleshooting mode kept separate from the main operating system (which can also be accessed by booting the install CD) or to various "safe mode" options that run the dysfunctional OS but with features, such as video drivers, audio, and networking, disabled. This mode typically provides access to utility and diagnostic programs so a user can troubleshoot what is preventing the operating system from working normally. Safe mode is intended for maintenance, not functionality, and it provides minimal access to features.


Safe Mode starts up automatically if Windows does not boot on the previous attempt. You can also invoke Safe Mode by pressing F5 or by pressing F8 and selecting it from the boot menu.

Microsoft Windows' safe mode (for 7/ Vista / XP / 2000 / ME / 98 / 95) is accessed by pressing the F8 key as the operating system boots. Also, in a multi-boot environment with multiple versions of Windows installed side by side, the F8 key can be pressed at the OS selector prompt to get to safe mode. However, in Windows 8 (released in 2012), the traditional press-F8-for-safe-mode-options UI convention no longer works. So, either Shift-F8 or a special GUI-based workaround is necessary.


  • Safe Mode checks the msdos.sys file for information on where to find the rest of the Windows files. If it finds the files, it proceeds to load Windows in Safe Mode with the command win /d:m. If it does not find the Windows files, it will run to bring up a C: prompt.

  • Windows boots using a batch file called system.cb instead of the standard system.ini file. This file loads the Virtual Device Drivers (VxDs) that Windows uses to communicate with the standard parts of the computer.

  • Windows now load the regular system.ini file plus win.ini and Registry settings. It skips the [Boot] (except for the shell and device lines) and [386Enh] sections of system.ini and does not load or run any programs listed in win.ini.

  • The Windows desktop loads up in 16 colors and at a resolution of 640 x 480 with the words "Safe Mode" in each corner.

Main changes in Safe Mode

  • Most device drivers are not loaded upon startup, only those essential for primary function.

  • Windows loads in VGA graphics mode with a smaller color palette and resolution.

  • The words "Safe Mode" are printed in all four corners of the screen.

  • Safe Mode does not run many files including autoexec.bat and config.sys.

  • In Safe Mode, Windows tests the extended memory before loading.

  • Instead of using the standard system.ini file, Windows boots using a batch file called system.cb that allows Windows to communicate with system hardware via Virtual Device Drivers.

Differences between Normal and Safe Mode in Windows

  • Normal mode is the reality is the default working mode of a system working system whereas safe mode is a diagnostic mode, which is used to detect, restore or troubleshoot issues with a laptop computer.

  • In common mode, all drivers are loaded by the working system by default. There is not any restriction of the graphics driver, sound driver, group or server drivers. Safe mode refuses to load some drivers. Mostly graphics driver, sound driver, and group driver is not going to be accessible in safe mode.

  • In normal mode, all the drivers for the hardware configuration in the computer are loaded. In the safe mode, only drivers required for minimal operation conditions are loaded so that instructions can be given and information received from the operating system. Any additional features such as scanners, network drives, and some high-level application software might not work in this mode.

  • Safe mode is a most interesting answer to troubleshoot any drawback on account of in start it robotically shut all pointless packages, which are often run be laptop computer in common mode. By this detection and eradicating of any bugs or error turn into more easy and straightforward.

  • Sometimes antivirus and malware security software program missed the malicious records data and errors in common mode. While the safe mode is a most interesting option to detect any hidden virus even Trojan.


Stock photo from rvlsoft

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