Log in ....Tribune

Monday, September 23, 2002

Windows in safe mode
Sarabjeet Singh Kanwal

WHILE Windows is a powerful and user-friendly operating system, there are times when it becomes difficult to handle. On installing a new software program you may face some strange results like: no response from new hardware or hanging of the system. Installation of new hardware drivers may also result in a same way. A device driver is the software that Windows uses to interact with a piece of hardware, such as a printer or scanner.

After occurrence of such a problem, when you restart the computer, it loads a Windows desktop with the words Safe Mode in the four corners. Safe Mode starts up automatically if Windows does not boot properly on the previous attempt. You can also invoke Safe Mode by pressing F5 or by pressing F8 and selecting it from the boot menu. Some systems start safe mode by pressing Ctrl key.

Safe Mode is the diagnostic mode of Windows. The purpose of Safe Mode is to allow you to troubleshoot Windows and determine what is causing it not to function correctly. Once you have corrected the problem, you can reboot and Windows will load normally.

There are several things that happen when Windows boots in Safe Mode that differs from a normal boot:

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

  • Most device drivers are not loaded.

A default protected-mode configuration is loaded (standard VGA display adapter having low resolution, no network, Microsoft mouse driver, and the minimum device drivers required to start Windows). You may not have access to CD-ROM drives, printers, or other devices.

In addition, the desktop icons may have moved to different locations on the desktop.

So what should you do if your computer boots to Safe Mode? First of all, try to determine what has changed on your system that could have caused Windows to fail to boot properly. If you have added any new hardware, go to the Control Panel, remove it and uninstall the software driver for that device. Then restart the system. If Windows boots properly, there is surely some type of conflict with the device and try to resolve it.

Use this same method if you have loaded a new software application sometime recently. Go to the Control Panel, click on Add/Remove Programs and remove the software. Try a reboot and hopefully you will get a normal Windows boot.

If the problem is definitely not regarding new hardware or software, then, most likely, you have a corrupted Registry. In this case, you may have to reinstall Windows.