Beginners Guides: Safe Mode in Windows Vista For Crash Recovery
The first step to recovering a crashed computer is Windows Vista's Safe Mode. Knowing this will allow you to deal with bad software drivers, determine if it's a hardware or software error, and fight off virus attacks. Safe Mode is like a second chance to save your PC from certain doom! - Version 1.2.1
It's happened to all of us. You've been using your
computer the same way for months, then all of a sudden you sit down to work,
turn the system on and... What? Windows Vista starts to load and then things go
wrong. Maybe your computer endlessly restarts on the Windows loading screen.
Maybe your system loads into Vista, but so slowly as to be useless. Maybe you
get a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) instead of a welcome screen... Something is
badly wrong with your operating system and you need to get work done. You take
the computer to a local PC service center and they say the only sure way to fix
it is to reinstall Windows Vista. The only problem with that is you'd lose all
your family photos and personal files you haven't ever gotten around to backing up.
What to do? First of all - Don't Panic. The answer to
your troubles may be closer to hand than you think. In this case, a little
DIY can save your data and your dollars, so read on.
This PCSTATS Guide is designed to provide the average
computer user with the tools to repair his or her Vista operating system and
access files in an emergency, using almost nothing but Windows Vista's own
inbuilt tools and utilities. All of this is done through the most useful of all
these tools, the Windows Safe Mode option.
Windows Vista, like all recent Microsoft operating
systems, includes a 'safe mode' boot option. Safe mode is a method of loading
the operating system stripped down to the bare core of functionality, without
the various extra graphical options, startup software and functionality of a
full Vista boot. Most software will not work in the Vista safe-mode, which is
precisely why this option is so useful when troubleshooting a crashed computer.
The Three Safe Modes of Windows
As you will see, there are three distinct Safe Mode types
available in Windows Vista; 'safe mode', 'safe mode with networking' and 'safe
mode with command prompt only'. Let's outline the differences and capabilities of each version first, and then we'll tell
you how to engage Safe Mode, and why it is such a
powerful recovery tool.
First: Safe Mode
The default option, 'safe mode' is where we will spend
most of our time in this article. As detailed above, a minimal set of hardware drivers is loaded on
boot up when the computer is told to run in safe mode.
Incidently, hardware drivers are the software that lets Windows Vista make use of
the physical devices in the computer, such as the hard drive or video card.
The drivers loaded include all hard disk and CD-Rom devices, keyboard and mouse,
A basic video driver to display graphics on the screen, and USB storage device
support for USB flash drives and card readers.
Note that no printing support or network connections are available in this
A limited selection of services (operating system processes that run in the
background) are also started, bare essentials such as the event log, Windows
Defender and encryption support for reading protected files.
Second: Safe Mode with Networking
This is the same as 'safe mode' above, with the addition of hardware support
for the computer system's wired and wireless network adapters. Thus you
can access the Internet or your local network freely in this mode, though you
will find performance to be slower than it would normally be in normal Vista
The addition of network hardware support means that
several other services must be started, including the DNS, DHCP (see PCSTATS Beginners Guide to
for more information on these terms) and firewall
Third: Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Safe mode with command prompt loads safe mode as above, but without the
graphical interface, giving you only the command prompt. Generally
speaking, this is only really useful to system administrators who need to
quickly enter a few text-based commands in safe mode, as there are very, very
few situations where the safe mode with command prompt mode will work when the
other safe modes will not.
PCSTATS will not further explore the use of this command prompt mode, as it is outside
the scope of this article.