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Safe Mode in Windows Helps Fix What Ails It

Question : What is a Safe Mode boot?

Answer : Windows can sometimes be a fussy operating system to start when you turn on the computer and the program senses that something is not quite right. A software installation gone bad, an incompatible device driver or a dynamic library link (D.L.L.) file can interfere with the ability of Windows to boot up properly. When this happens, the computer comes up in Safe Mode.

Safe Mode is a diagnostic tool that lets you troubleshoot whatever is ailing Windows. It is a function of just about every version of the operating system Microsoft has released. When the PC starts in Safe Mode, it loads only the components the operating system needs to run. When Windows has opted for Safe Mode, the desktop will not have its usual pattern, the screen will display only 16 colors, and Safe Mode will appear in the corners of the screen.

If newly added software or hardware drivers are giving Windows fits, you can get the computer up and running enough in Safe Mode to open the Add/Remove Programs control panel or use the System Restore function to uninstall the new software or undo whatever you did before it started misbehaving.

If your computer is acting wacky, you can also put it in Safe Mode yourself by restarting the computer while holding down the F8 key (or the control key on some Windows versions). You'll see a menu on the screen that lets you choose from different options, including Safe Mode and Safe Mode With Networking (which allows the computer to connect to a network). Some Windows systems also offer Last Known Good Configuration, which lets the computer jump back to the state it was in at a time when it started up without problems.


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