Windows offers several built-in features to assist the operating system’s users with troubleshooting various problems. One of these features is safe mode. If your computer runs Windows, you can launch it in safe mode. What is safe mode exactly, and how does it work?

The Basics of Safe Mode

Safe mode is a minimalist state with restricted functionality. You’ll still see your desktop icons when using safe mode, and you’ll still see your files. Windows, however, will only run essential drivers and processes.

It’s important to note that Windows has two different safe modes, including the following:

  1. Safe Mode
  2. Safe Mode With Networking

As you may have guessed, Safe Mode With Networking offers network capabilities. If you boot your computer in Safe Mode With Networking, you’ll be able to connect to Wi-Fi and the internet. Network capabilities aren’t available in Safe Mode because Windows won’t load the necessary drivers for it.

How Safe Mode Works

Safe mode works by limiting the drivers and processes used by Windows. Unlike in standard mode, for example, Windows won’t execute processes from the config.sys file, nor will it execute processes from the autoexec.bat file. It will also run fewer drivers. A driver is software that allows your computer to read a piece of hardware. Windows will run some drivers in safe mode, but it won’t run all of them. Rather, safe mode restricts Windows to using only essential drivers and processes.

When to Use Safe Mode

You should use safe mode to troubleshoot problems with your computer. If you’re experiencing the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), for instance, you may want to try rebooting your computer in safe mode. Windows can trigger a BSOD for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons, however, are associated with driver issues. Therefore, you can troubleshoot a BSOD by rebooting your computer in safe mode. If you don’t experience a BSOD in safe mode, the problem might be attributed to a corrupt or otherwise bad driver.

Safe mode is also useful for finding and removing malware. In standard mode, you can’t always remove malware simply by deleting it. The malware may either prevent you from deleting it, or it may automatically replicate immediately after you delete it. Safe mode may prevent the malware from performing these adverse processes. As a result, you can remove the malware by deleting it. Safe mode doesn’t work for all instances of malware, but it’s certainly worth trying if your computer is infected.