Is your Windows machine freezing, crashing or just not up to snuff? It can be a bad application, a neat driver or even a faulty hardware.
One way to get to the bottom of the problem in a Windows machine is to start the operating system in Safe Mode, which launches Windows into a clean, untouched, barebone mode by preventing certain drivers and other objects from loading. If Windows works happily in Safe Mode, it normally means that the error is within a certain driver, service or other plugin that would otherwise be automatically loaded.
The steps offered here assume that you can at least boot into Windows and access Safe Mode.
How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode
In the search bar at the bottom of the screen, type the command msconfig . At the top of the search results, click System Configuration or just press Enter.
Alternatively, click the Start button, scroll down the app list and open the folder for Windows administrative tools. Click System Configuration Shortcut.
In the System Configuration window that appears, your current setting is likely to be normal start or selective start. Click on the second option for Diagnostic startup, which only downloads basic drivers and services.
Note that drivers and services for audio, network, and some Other features are not loaded with this option, so you cannot use or test these features. Click OK. In the system configuration message, click the restart button to restart the computer immediately.
When the computer is restarted, write back to Windows and try to reproduce the problem you experienced. Whether the problem persists, you still need to perform additional tests to limit it. Open the system configuration utility again. Click the Start tab. Select the Safe start check box.
Under Safe Startup there are four different options: Minimal, Alternative Shell, Active Directory Repair and Network.
- ] Minimal loads only the smallest drivers required for Windows to work but still lands you on the GUI so you can navigate with the mouse.
- Alternatively, should start Safe Mode with the command prompt, like this
- Active Directory Repair is an option for computers in a corporate environment that connects to Microsoft's Active Directory.
- Network loads the necessary network drivers into the Windows GUI so you can access and test network connectivity.
Among these, minimal and networks are probably the most useful options for the average person troubleshooting a problem. Select Minimal, restart and try to reproduce the problem. Do the same with the network.
If the problem goes away, you can always open the system configuration again and try to start in normal mode and see if the problem is really gone. Otherwise, some of the other options in the Boot section of system configuration may be helpful. No GUI, Boot log, Base video and OS boot information can be used with Diagnostic startup or Safe boot. You can enable any or all of these four options.
No GUI Boot
No GUI booting easily disables the animated points during startup, so it is not very useful for troubleshooting.
Boot log generates a special text file showing which drivers were loaded and not loaded during startup, so this is a useful options for troubleshooting a problem. Enable startup log and restart your computer. Log on to Windows. Start File Explorer and open the following file: C: Windows ntbtlog.txt . Check the file for the status of each driver.
Base Video loads the drivers for standard VGA graphics instead of the drivers for your specific graphics card or hardware. As such, this option is a useful way to troubleshoot problems with your graphic display.
OS Boot Information
OS boot information displays a list of drivers and other information when the computer is started. But it only works in Windows 7, not Windows 10 or 8.1.
Restart the computer with each option that is checked one by one and see if the problem disappears.
Disable Suspicious Troubleshooter
In addition to using the built-in safe mode options, you can check to see what services and startup programs are loading and disabling all you think causes problems. Click the Services tab in the System Configuration window. You will probably see many services here, many of which are difficult to decipher. So you are best to leave most of them alone. However, if you discover an easily identifiable service listed as running, it is another option available to troubleshoot a problem.
For help on identifying and disabling startup programs, check how to stop Windows 10 apps from starting at startup.
If you can limit the problem to a particular driver or service, you can now run Google or Bing search for this item
Quick Launch in Safe Mode on Windows 10 (or 8.1)
If You Run Windows 10 or 8.1, you have other options to start in Safe Mode. In Windows 10, click the Start button> Settings> Update and Security> Recovery . Click the button to restart now. Click the button to restart now.
If you still have Windows 8.1, start the charm, and then click Setup screen> Change PC settings> Update and reset > Restoration . In the Advanced Start section, click the button to restart now.
From this point in both Windows 10 and 8.1, your screen will display a blue menu. Select Troubleshooting> Advanced Options> Initial Settings> Restart . On the next startup settings screen, press one of the keys from 1 to 9 to select a specific start type, for example 1 To Enable Troubleshooting, 4 To Enable Safe Mode or 5 Enable Safe Mode with Network. Then click on the restart button.
Your computer is restarted with the starting type you selected. You can now try to recreate the problem you've experienced in Windows to see if you can limit it and hopefully solve it.