Windows 10’s Safe Mode is meant to be a haven for a malfunctioning computer, but what if it won’t boot? Here’s how to fix it.
One of the go-to methods for diagnosing any critical error in Windows is to boot into Safe Mode. Safe Mode disables all non-essential drivers and third-party software so that your computer can boot up without any interruption.
But what if your computer won’t boot into Safe Mode at all? Your computer may get stuck on the Startup Options screen or crash every time you try to boot into Safe Mode. Fortunately, there are many fixes you can try to resolve this error.
Use DISM and SFC to Repair System Files
If you have tried to fix startup errors before, you may have used the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool. This tool detects and fixes any problems with the Windows disk image. Technical jargon aside, you can use DISM and System File Checker (SFC) together to solve many system errors.
However, before you log in, always remember to run DISM before SFC because SFC uses a system image for repairs.
The DISM tool can be run using the Command Prompt:
- In the Start menu search bar, type cmd and right click on Command Prompt > Run as Administrator.
- In the Command Prompt console, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and press the button Enter.
- Wait until the repair process is complete. Don’t panic if the process seems stuck; repair procedures do take time to complete.
System File Checker (SFC) is a built-in Windows utility that automatically detects and repairs damaged or missing Windows system files. You should always perform an SFC scan first when diagnosing many Windows errors, including if Windows won’t start in Safe Mode. This is because most system errors are the result of corrupt or missing Windows files.
You can run SFC via Command Prompt:
- In the Start menu search bar, type cmd. Then, from the search results, right click on Command Prompt > Run as Administrator.
- In the Command Prompt console, type sfc /scannow and press the button Enter.
- Wait for SFC to scan your system for corrupt or missing Windows files. This process can take a while, so be patient.
After running DISM and SFC, reboot your computer and try booting in Safe Mode. If it still doesn’t work, continue to the next section.
Use the Windows Startup Repair Tool
The Windows Startup Repair Tool is another Windows utility that takes care of boot problems, even if Windows itself won’t boot. The utility is competent and will most likely fix any boot issues you may have, including issues with Safe Mode. There are several ways to access Windows Startup Repair, but if you can boot into your PC normally, you can access it using Settings.
Access Windows Startup Repair Using Settings
- Click button Start, then click Settings. It’s the little gear icon to the left of the Start menu.
- On the Settings dashboard, click Updates & Security.
- In the new Window, click Recovery in the left navigation bar.
- Now, below Advanced startup, click Restart now.
- Your computer will boot to a blue screen with various options.
- Here, click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Repair.
- Select a user account, enter a password, and click Continue to start Startup Repair.
Access Windows Startup Repair When Booting
If you can’t reach the Settings menu on your PC, you can still access the Windows Startup Repair tool by forcing the computer to shut down a few times.
- Turn on your computer.
- As soon as the manufacturer logo appears, press and hold the power button until your PC shuts down.
- Again, press the power button and repeat the second step.
- After 2-3 attempts, your computer will boot to the blue screen mentioned in Step 5 of the section above.
- Follow Steps 6 and 7 from the section above.
Once Startup Repair has finished its work, reboot your computer and try booting into Safe Mode again.
First Remove CMOS
The Complimentary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) stores your computer’s configuration settings on its motherboard. It is powered by a CMOS battery, which is also a physical part of your motherboard. If you remove this battery and reinsert it, the CMOS will be cleared, and all BIOS settings returned to their default preferences.
Luckily, you probably don’t need to open your PC to do this trick. Some motherboards allow you to reset the settings from the BIOS menu, meaning you don’t have to remove the CMOS battery at all.
Clear CMOS Using BIOS Menu
- Click button Start and open Settings.
- Navigate to Update & Security > Recovery.
- Under Advanced Startup, click Restart now.
- Your computer will reboot to the same blue screen mentioned earlier.
- Now, open Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware Settings.
- Click Restart.
- Your computer will reboot into the BIOS menu.
- Here, look for options like reset to default, default settings, etc. The name of the option will be different by manufacturer.
- After you reset the BIOS to default settings, reboot your computer.
Clear CMOS by Replacing the CMOS Battery
If you don’t find an option to reset the BIOS from the menu above, you can still achieve the same result by reinstalling the battery. However, you should only use this method if you are comfortable working with computer hardware.
- Open your PC case.
- Locate the CMOS battery on your motherboard. It should look like a standard battery, similar to what you see on a watch.
- Delete the cell and re-enter it.
- Restart your computer. The CMOS should now be at its default settings.
After clearing the CMOS, try rebooting into Safe Mode.
Reset Your Computer
If none of the other methods work, then you may have to reset your computer. Unfortunately, when you reset your PC, all your settings are lost, and Windows reinstalls itself. However, you can choose to keep your files private, so you don’t lose everything.
If you want to do this, Windows 10 allows you to reset your PC via Settings:
- Click on button Start and go to Settings.
- On the Settings dashboard, select Updates & Security.
- Click on options Recovery in the navigation bar on the left.
- Under Reset this PC, click Start.
- Now you can choose to keep your personal files or delete them. Regardless of which option you choose, Windows will remove all applications and settings from your computer.
- Wait until the process is complete.
There are other methods to factory reset your PC, so be sure to try them out if you need to do a fresh clean.
Now Safe To Boot Into Safe Mode
If your computer is having trouble booting into Safe Mode, don’t worry. There are many methods you can try, and hopefully one of the tricks above will help you get back in Safe Mode.
Having the ability to boot into Safe Mode is important as it helps you deal with many other errors. But it’s also important to understand what Safe Mode is and how to make the most of it.