In this Ask the Admin, I’ll show you three different ways to start Windows 8 in Safe Mode. Windows 8 is the most reliable version of Microsoft’s client OS to date, but there can still be occasions when a catastrophic failure or hardware issue causes Windows to fail. Sometimes bad device drivers can also create problems, and the only way to remove them might be using Safe Mode. There are several different ways to get into Safe Mode, and the method you choose depends on whether you can boot to a working OS.
If you are able to boot into Windows normally, then the first two methods I’m going to show you here are the easiest way to boot to Safe Mode.
By far the easiest way to get to Safe Mode from a working OS is to switch to the Start screen by pressing the WINDOWS key and following these instructions:
Your PC will now restart. During the boot process, you will be given the option to boot to Safe Mode by pressing F4, along with various options to enable Safe Mode with networking for example.
Boot to Safe Mode in Windows 8 using the Power menu. (Image: Russell Smith)
This method of booting to Safe Mode also works in Windows 7.
Change Windows 8 boot settings using the System Configuration Tool.
(Image: Russell Smith)
You may have notice that I haven’t included the traditional F8 (or SHIFT + F8) key combination that traditionally allows PCs to be booted to Safe Mode during startup. Although this is still supported in Windows 8, the boot process is now so fast that it can be next to impossible to get this key combination to work, especially if you have an SSD and UEFI BIOS.
Therefore I recommend that you create a recovery disk so that you can boot to Safe Mode if Windows won’t start.
Once the PC has restarted, you will be given the option to boot to Safe Mode by pressing F4.