Safe Mode is an important troubleshooting tool for all versions of Windows. Safe Mode starts the system with a minimal complement of drivers and services and no auto-start programs, giving you the opportunity to make configuration changes, delete files, or perform tests that are impossible in normal mode.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it difficult to get Windows started in Safe Mode. The official way, of course, is to press F8 at startup and then choose a Safe Mode option from the startup menu, but timing is critical. Too early and your keystroke doesn’t get noticed. Too late and you miss your window of opportunity and start in normal mode.
The solution? If you’re already running in normal mode, use the System Configuration tool to restart in Safe Mode. In Windows Vista or Server 2008, click Start and type msconfig in the Search box, then click the shortcut that appears at the top of the Start menu. Click the Boot tab and select the check box next to Safe Boot, as shown here. (If you have a multi-boot system, be sure to select the correct entry from the list in the top window.)
You don’t need to make any other changes. Just click OK and then restart when prompted. The next time you start, you’ll go straight to Safe Mode.
In XP or Server 2003, the procedure is slightly different. Click Start, Run, type msconfig in the Run box, and press Enter. In the System Configuration Utility window, click the BOOT.INI tab and select the /SAFEBOOT option.
In all cases, after you’re done working in Safe Mode, open the System Configuration utility again, click the General tab, choose Normal Startup, and click OK. When you restart, you’ll be back in business.