Why Windows 11 Safe Mode Is Not Working and What to Do

Safe mode is a diagnostic mode of a computer operating system that allows you to troubleshoot problems and fix issues that prevent normal booting. Here is How to Fix a Computer That Won't Start in Safe Mode.

Safe mode is a diagnostic mode that allows you to troubleshoot problems with your Windows 11 PC. It starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services, so you can isolate the cause of an issue and fix it. But what if your computer can’t boot into safe mode at all? Users report, Safe mode not working Windows 11, Get stuck on the startup options screen, or crashes when trying to boot into it. This article explores common reasons why Windows 11 Can’t enter Safe Mode and How to Fix a Computer That Won’t Start in Safe Mode.

What is Safe mode?

Safe Mode is a diagnostic startup mode in Windows operating systems that allows the system to boot with a minimal set of drivers and services. It is designed to troubleshoot and resolve issues by isolating the core functionalities, making it easier to identify and fix problems such as software conflicts, driver issues, or malware infections.

  • It enables users to identify and address problems caused by recently installed or malfunctioning software.
  • Safe Mode helps in isolating faulty drivers, allowing users to update or uninstall them without interference.
  • Running the system in Safe Mode is effective for scanning and removing malware without the risk of it interfering with the process.
  • Safe Mode is often used to initiate system restores, allowing users to roll back to a stable configuration.
  • When the system encounters problems during normal startup, Safe Mode provides a simplified environment to troubleshoot and address those issues.

How to boot into safe mode?

  • Press the Windows logo key + I to open Settings.
  • Click on System, then on Recovery.
  • Under Advanced Startup, click on Restart now.
  • After your PC restarts, select Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, then Startup Settings.
  • Click on Restart, then press F4 to enable safe mode, F5 to enable safe mode with networking, or F6 to enable safe mode with command prompt.

Safe mode windows 11

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Use the Shift + Restart option

One of the easiest ways to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode is to use the Shift + Restart option from the Start menu.

  • Press and hold the Shift key, click on the start menu -> power the click Restart option.
  • Wait for your PC to enter the recovery environment.
  • Click Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.

press F4 to enable safe mode, F5 to enable safe mode with networking, or F6 to enable safe mode with command prompt.

Use the msconfig utility

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Another way to get into Safe Mode in Windows 11 is with the msconfig utility, which allows you to configure various boot options.

  • Press Windows key + R, type “msconfig,” and ok to open “System Configuration.”
  • Head over to the “Boot” tab, tick the box next to “Safe Mode,” and then click “Apply” and “OK.”
  • You will be prompted to restart your PC. Click Restart to boot into Safe Mode, or Exit without restart if you want to do it later.
  • To exit Safe Mode, repeat the steps above and untick the box next to “Safe Mode.”

Safe mode from system configuration

Windows Safe Mode Not Working

Multiple reasons contribute to safe mode not working, corrupted system files, driver compatibility issues, hardware problems, Boot Configuration Issues are common.

  • Damage to essential system files can hinder the proper functioning of Safe Mode.
  • Outdated or incompatible drivers may prevent the system from entering Safe Mode.
  • Some sophisticated malware can actively block access to Safe Mode to evade detection and removal.
  • Issues with hardware components, such as graphics cards or memory modules, can affect Safe Mode functionality.
  • The Fast Startup feature can interfere with the startup process, making it difficult to access Safe Mode.
  • Errors or misconfigurations in the system’s boot configuration can impact the ability to enter Safe Mode.

Windows updates often include fixes for system bugs and compatibility issues. Ensuring your system is up-to-date addresses potential conflicts that may affect Safe Mode.

  • Open Settings by pressing Win + I.
  • Navigate to “Windows Update” and click on “Check for updates.”
  • Install any pending updates and restart the system.

Repair Corrupted System Files

Over time, system files can become corrupted, can impact various aspects of the operating system, including the functionality of Safe Mode. Usually, Safe Mode relies on a minimal set of drivers and services, and if key system files are corrupted, it may result in Safe Mode not working as expected. Running the System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Service and Management Tool (DISM) can be beneficial in resolving issues, including cases where Safe Mode is not working due to corrupt system files.

System File Checker or sfc.exe can be used to scan and restore corrupted Windows system files.

  • Press Windows key + S, type cmd, right-click on command prompt select run as administrator.

command prompt as administrator

  • First run the sfc command sfc /scannow, to checks the integrity of critical system files and replace or repair damaged versions. Ensures the stability of the Windows operating system by addressing file corruption.
  • Next run DISM command DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth, its more powerful than SFC and is capable of repairing the Windows image, including system files. It can clean up the component store, resolving issues related to corrupted system files.

Use SFC and DISM command

  • Allow the process to complete. It may take some time, and an internet connection may be required to download clean copies of corrupted files. Once done reboot your computer and check if this help fix safe mode not working.

Use Windows Startup Repair Tool

Windows Startup Repair Tool is another Windows utility that deals with startup problems even when Windows itself won’t start. There are several ways to access Windows Startup Repair. However, the easiest way is to access it through Settings.

  • Press and hold the Shift key, click on the start menu -> power the click Restart option.
  • Wait for your PC to enter the recovery environment, click on Troubleshoot ” > “ Advanced options ” > “ Startup Repair ”.
  • Then wait for the diagnostic program to finish. Then start your computer.

Startup repair

Use System Restore

System Restore is a powerful tool that reverts your system to a previous state, effectively undoing changes that may have affected Safe Mode functionality. If none of the above methods work for you, you may need to use System Restore to restore your PC to a previous point when safe mode was working

  • Open the Control Panel and go to “Recovery.” Click on “Open System Restore” and follow the on-screen instructions to choose a restore point.
  • Alternatively, Press the Windows key + R, type rstrui.exe and press Enter, This will launch System Restore. Click on Next and select a restore point that was created before you encountered the safe mode issue. You can check the Show More Restore Points box to see more options.
  • Click on Next and confirm your choice, then click on Finish, Wait for System Restore to complete and restart your PC.

Confirm system restore windows

However, note that System Restore may undo some changes that you made to your system after the restore point was created, such as installing or uninstalling programs or drivers.

Clear CMOS

The Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) stores your computer’s configuration settings on the motherboard. It is powered by the CMOS battery, which is a physical part of the motherboard. Removing and reinserting this battery clears the CMOS and resets all BIOS settings to default. This does not reset the BIOS, just the BIOS settings.

 A BIOS misconfiguration could be why Windows won’t even start in Safe Mode.

  • Again access Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Settings, Then click “ Restart ”.
  • Then in the BIOS menu look for options like “ Reset ”, “ Load Setup Defaults ” or similar.
  • You can navigate with the arrow keys and confirm the selection with the Enter key.
  • After the reset, you can start your computer as usual.

If you cannot find the BIOS reset option in the BIOS menu, you can achieve the same results by reseating the battery. Open the case of your PC, locate the CMOS battery on your motherboard. Now simply remove the cell and reinsert it.

Then restart your computer. The CMOS should now be reset to default settings.
After clearing the CMOS, try restarting the computer in Safe Mode.

Disable Fast Startup

The Fast Startup feature, while speeding up boot times, may interfere with the initiation of Safe Mode. Disabling it ensures a clean startup process.

  • Open Control Panel and go to “Power Options.”
  • Click on “Choose what the power button does” on the left.
  • Uncheck “Turn on fast startup” under “Shutdown settings.”

fast startup windows 11

Reset your computer

If none of the other methods work, resetting your PC may be helpful. Unfortunately, if you reset your PC, all settings will be lost and Windows will reinstall itself. However, during the process, you have the option to keep your personal files so that everything is not lost.

  • If you want to do this, you can reset your PC in Windows 11 from Settings.
  • Click on Windows Update then Recovery
  • Click on Reset PC next to Reset this PC option.
  • Then choose whether you want to keep your files, follow further instructions and click “ Reset ” to start the process.

Reset PC windows 11

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