Is there anything more frustrating than turning on your computer only to find it frozen because an app or program has stopped working? Safe Mode is a powerful troubleshooting tool—if you know how to use it.

You can use Safe Mode not only to determine what’s preventing your device’s ability to boot normally but also to revert your device to a previously functioning state.

What is Safe Mode?
On occasion, your device may be extremely slow to start or may not start at all. Safe Mode allows you to start your device using minimal functionality, limiting the number of apps and processes running. This can be handy as there could be times when your device has malicious files or processes running that’s hindering its performance or blocking you from using it. Safe Mode can stop these nuisances from opening and allow you to remove them by running antivirus scans after your computer starts.

You can’t run your device in Safe Mode indefinitely because certain functions, such as networking, won’t be operating, but it is a great way to troubleshoot your device. And if that doesn’t work, you can restore your system to a previously working version with the System Restore tool.

How to use Safe Mode
Imagine you start your device, and after several minutes your sign-in page still hasn’t appeared. Now would be a good time to try Safe Mode. Here are a few ways you can access Safe Mode:

Scenario 1: Diagnostic startup

Diagnostic startup allows Windows to automatically enable certain services and drivers upon starting. It’s a middle ground between Safe Mode and a normal startup.

Type msconfig into Windows search, then open System Configuration.

Safe mode system config

In the General tab, select Diagnostic startup, and then select OK.

Once you select OK and restart, your device should start normally. What you may notice once you sign in is that your frequently used apps haven’t reappeared. It’s a way Windows test to check if your device will run without downloaded apps or open items like Spotify or Skype. If your device is running properly in Diagnostic startup, you may need to disable these items.

If the issue continues, Safe Mode is the next step.

From the msconfig dialog, open System Configuration. In the Boot tab, select Safe Boot (Minimal),  and then select OK.

Safe mode boot minimal

You’ll be prompted to restart your device to enter Safe Mode.

To exit Safe Mode, open System Configuration. Then in the General tab, select Normal Startup, and then select OK.

Safe mode normal startup

Scenario 2: Device will not start

Safe Mode can also be useful when your device doesn’t start correctly. When that happens, your device may open to an automatic repair screen.

Safe mode automatic repair restart

If you select Restart and your device opens to this screen, you can try Safe Mode to check if the device starts Windows properly. Here’s how:

Select Advanced options.

Safe mode automatic repair advanced options

Select Startup Settings.

Note: Depending on the version of Windows you’re using, and the type of machine, your options on this screen may look different.

Safe mode startup settings

Select Restart.

Safe mode startup  settings restart

Select Enable Safe Mode.

Safe mode startup settings enable

Scenario 3: System Restore

Use System restore in Safe Mode to try to get your device back to a point where it was fully functional

In cases where your device has become non-functional and won’t turn on normally, Safe Mode allows you to restore your system to a point where it was functioning. Usually, you don’t strive to go in reverse, but there may be occasions where reverting your computer to a previous version can get you out of a sticky situation. In these instances, Safe Mode can help.

Follow these steps to perform a system restore:

How to use System Restore to revert to an earlier system version with a known working configuration

Type System restore into Windows search and select Create a restore point.

Safe mode create restore point

The System Properties menu opens. To revert to a restore point, select System Restore.

Safe mode system restore

In the System Restore window, select Next.

Safe mode restore system settings

Finally, this menu shows different restore points. The information may differ for your device because there may be multiple points from different dates, and the description and type may be different if you created a restore point manually or if the system created it.

Select a restore point, and then select Next.

Safe mode restore computer

Confirm your chosen restore point, and select Finish.

Safe mode confirm restore point

Troubleshooting your device can sometimes be scary, but many tools like Safe Mode are built into Windows 10 to help you diagnose your PC and keep it in optimal health. Using Safe Mode, you can repair your device and stay operational. Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about your device and inspired you to take part in repairing it.