Windows XP Safe Mode

How to Start Windows XP in Safe Mode

You can start your Windows XP system in Safe Mode from the Windows Advanced Options menu. From this menu, you can also choose various other options that help you in debugging your Windows system.

To display the Windows Advanced Options, restart your computer and as soon as the BIOS screen ends, press the F8 key.

The Windows Advanced Options Menu is comprised of the following options: Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, Safe Mode with Command Prompt, Enable Boot Logging, Enable VGA Mode, Last Known Good Configuration, Directory Services Restore Mode, Debugging Mode, and Start Windows Normally. You can make your selection by scrolling through the menu using the Up and Down arrow keys. Let’s now have a look at the uses of each option.

Safe Mode

Safe Mode enables you to boot your system with only essential drivers and services. In this mode, most of the advanced hardware and software features are turned off and only basic components such as the mouse, keyboard, disk drives, and your monitor work. Even the display settings are limited to 640 x 480 screen resolution.

The main use of Safe Mode is to enable you to effectively troubleshoot various problems with your system. With no additional services running in the background, various Windows troubleshooting tools such as System Restore, Disk Defragmenter, Device Manager, and Antivirus scans are more effective and fully functional in Safe Mode.

Safe Mode with Networking

This mode is the same as the Safe Mode, except that in this mode additional drivers are loaded to enable networking capabilities on your computer.  Usually, you will need to start your PC in this mode if you have to access the Internet or some other computer on the network to troubleshoot your computer.

Note: This option does not work on a Laptop computer with a PC card because the PC Card driver is turned off even in this mode.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

If your troubleshooting steps require you to run command-line text commands or if your system is just not able to boot into the GUI mode, then you can start your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt mode. You can use Windows XP troubleshooting utilities such as the Windows Recovery Console in this mode.

Enable Boot Logging

When you enable boot logging, your computer starts up normally. However, it records all events that occur during the startup process in the ntbtlog.txt log file. You may be asked to boot up using this method when you are seeking the help of a technician over the phone. After the boot is complete, your technician will ask you to open the log file in the Notepad and search for certain words or phrases, such as “Fail,” to identify the services or processes that encountered problems during the startup.

Enable VGA Mode

If you just need to troubleshoot display-related problems, then you may choose to boot into VGA mode. For instance, in this mode you can troubleshoot problems related to problematic display configuration or incompatible display adapter driver.

In this mode, the system boots with a standard VGA video driver that works for all display adapters. In VGA mode, your system boots with 640 x 480 screen resolution.

Last Known Good Configuration

Choosing the Last Known Good Configuration option helps you in resetting your PC settings to the time when your system was working correctly. By choosing this method, you undo any configuration changes you made that caused the current PC problems. When you choose this option, the set of drivers and registry configuration of your PC when it was working right are restored.

Directory Services Restore Mode

This option is quite technical and is usually used for troubleshooting in organizations where Windows .NET Server or Windows 2000 Server domain controller computers are used.

Debugging Mode

This option is a bit difficult to understand. To state it simply, this mode is meant for technicians who connect a working computer to the problematic computer using a serial cable. They use the working computer to analyze problems in the other computer with the help of a specialized debugger software.

Start Windows Normally

If you hit the F8 button by mistake or if the Advanced Options Menu is displayed because of some problems during the previous shutdown and you just want to proceed with booting your system to Normal mode, then select this option.