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Prevent Windows From Automatically Starting In Safe Mode

Virginia from San Antonio, TX writes:

My laptop somehow went into the Safe Mode and I can’t get out of it (the safe mode). I tried doing the F8 when it first starts up and moving down to “start normal” but it still come up in safe mode. What else can I do, other than throw the laptop away? (Its only about 2 years old) Thanks.

Before I provide the solution to your problem, let me clarify what Windows safe mode [1] is designed for. Safe mode in Windows disables all unnecessary start-up programs [2], drivers, processes and starts Windows in its bare minimum configuration. When you boot Windows in safe mode, only core Microsoft processes, essential drivers and Windows services are executed.

Using safe mode, you can troubleshoot problems and application misconfigurations. If a recently installed application or a driver is behaving aberrantly, you should boot Windows in safe mode, re-install the driver/program and then boot Windows back in normal mode. Here is a brief FAQ about safe mode in Windows 7 [3].

Now what if you get stuck in Safe mode and can’t get out of it? Here is what you need to do:

1. While in Safe mode, shut down windows properly. Some laptops are designed to automatically start Windows in safe mode, if you perform an improper shutdown. This includes pulling off the power cable and forcing Windows to shut down by long pressing the power button. Do a proper Windows shutdown by clicking Windows start menu and choosing shutdown, as shown below:

 Proper Windows Shutdown

If a “proper shutdown” does not help, try the following

2. In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click “Start” and type msconfig in the search box.  If you are using Windows XP, click “Start”, go to “Run”, type msconfig and hit “OK”.

Start Msconfig

3. In the “General” tab, check whether “Normal startup” is selected or not. if not, select “Normal startup”.

Normal startup

4. Switch to the “Boot” tab and check whether the “Safeboot” option is checked or not. There is a high chance that the safeboot option will be checked, so you should uncheck it and hit OK.

Boot Config

5. Now do a proper Windows shutdown and see whether Windows boots in normal mode or boots back in safe mode.

In 99% of the cases, this should fix the issue. If it doesn’t, you have no other option than to do a system restore [4]. If you fail to restore Windows to an earlier system configuration that worked, backup all the data and perform a full system format.

Important: Do not touch the Windows bootloader [5] or install any utility which claims to alter Windows bootloader. This is because Windows bootloader has nothing to do with safe mode and there is a chance that you might mess up your computer’s current boot order. 

~Amit Banerjee