Restarting Your Windows Computer in Safe Mode

Some troubleshooting or repair steps call for you to access Microsoft Windows' Safe Mode.  This special operating mode lets you perform maintenance tasks without any programs running in the background.  Find out how to access Safe Mode for your operating system:

If you have problems while performing these steps, contact the NC State Help Desk for assistance.


Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  1. Turn your computer on.  If it is already on, reboot it.
  2. As your computer restarts, watch closely for a screen that designates your computer's manufacturer (e.g., Dell, HP, Gateway).
  3. As soon as this screen appears, immediately begin repeatedly tapping but DO NOT HOLD DOWN the F8 key (on the top row of your keyboard).
  4. If this action successfully interrupts the normal restart, you will see the Advanced Boot Options menu. If you get your usual Windows startup screen instead, repeat Steps 1-3.
    Windows Vista Safe Mode menu
  5. Use the keyboard arrows to highlight the desired option. In most cases, you should highlight Safe Mode, but if you are planning to use Trend Micro's Internet-based HouseCall service, highlight Safe Mode with Networking instead.

    Windows Vista Safe Mode selection

  6. Press the Enter key.
  7. Wait while windows files load.
  8. If you are prompted to select an operating system, use the keyboard arrows to highlight the appropriate one for your computer.
  9. Press the Enter key.
  10. In a few moments, your computer will start in Safe Mode. If you are asked to login, do so with your usual user name and password.
  11. When your Desktop appears, take the desired action; e.g., run a virus scan or a removal tool.
  12. When you are finished, restart the computer normally.

Windows XP and Windows Server 2003

  1. Turn your computer on.  If it is already on, reboot it.
  2. As your computer restarts, watch closely for a screen that designates your computer's manufacturer (e.g., Dell, HP, Gateway).
  3. As soon as this screen appears, immediately begin repeatedly tapping but DO NOT HOLD DOWN the F8 key (on the top row of your keyboard).
  4. If this action successfully interrupts the normal restart, you will see the Windows Advanced Options Menu. If you get your usual Windows startup screen instead, repeat Steps 1-3.
    Windows XP Safe Mode menu
  5. Use the keyboard arrows to highlight the desired option.
    In most cases, you should highlight Safe Mode, but if you are planning to use Trend Micro's Internet-based HouseCall service, highlight Safe Mode with Networking instead.
    Windows XP Safe Mode selection
  6. Press the Enter key.
  7. Wait while windows files load.
  8. If you are prompted to select an operating system, use the keyboard arrows to highlight the appropriate one for your computer.
  9. Press the Enter key.
  10. In a few moments, your computer will start in Safe Mode. If you are asked to login, do so with your usual user name and password.
  11. When your Desktop appears, take the desired action; e.g., run a virus scan or a removal tool.
  12. When you are finished, restart the computer normally.
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