Is SAFE MODE actually safe?

So, picture this, you are all excited because you found this amazing free software that will do some really amazing things and you install it and all of a sudden, your computer is throwing more pop-ups at you than a whack-a-mole game. Try as you might you just can’t get rid of them. You are about to throw in the towel and format your PC but then you pause.

WHAT ABOUT SAFE MODE, its your secret weapon. Safe mode can conveniently be accessed if Windows 10 keeps failing to boot or pressing and holding the “F8” key with your older version of Windows boots, and then selecting it from the menu that appears. But what exactly does safe mode do? Well surprisingly safe mode isn’t actually safe, in that it doesn’t enhances your computer’s security.

Safe mode starts your computer with the bare minimum of drivers, services and background processes that it needs to function. It would be like starting up your car but the only things that work are the engine, accelerator, brakes and steering wheel. So no A/C, no radio or even lights. The idea here that by only loading the essentials Windows won’t load anything problematic, nasty malicious programs that are often designed to start as soon as you fire up windows so that they can immediately begin serving you ads or stealing or stealing you data.

Preventing these codes for being loaded on the memory makes them much easier to remove. Safe mode can also be used to fix or delete registry entries that are causing issues, troubleshoot an accidental settings change that’s causing you headaches or change out your drivers, if your currently installed version is causing your graphics card or some other piece of hardware to ditch out.

Safe mode is also a useful tool if you would like to run System Restore, giving Windows a shot at getting rid of the offending software or glitch by itself, by rolling your PCs configuration to before the problem started.

In some cases, the feature that you would want to access in safe mode, like the system configuration tool are also available while booted normally, but the difference is that incase of a very severe infection for example safe mode might help to ensure that your system will function for long enough to go in and actually make the necessary changes.

Keep in mind however, that safe mode does have its limitations and you can’t use it for regular computing, if you fail to solve whatever the underlying problem is. Because it only loads basic drivers and services you will notice all kind of weird things like your monitor won’t run at its native resolutions, or the fact that you don’t have any sound and that many of your peripherals might not function properly. Also you can forget about doing any gaming apart from solitaire or minesweeper because safe mode only loads only the default Microsoft display drivers not whatever your GPU manufacturer provides.  You actually don’t even get support for connecting to the internet by default, though you can select “Safe Mode with Networking”  if you need to get online while you are troubleshooting

Furthermore, unfortunately isn’t a panacea, some system problems simply cannot be solved by attempting to fix them in safe mode, such as a corrupted registry or a particularly despicable rootkit that’s embedded itself deeply into the Windows kernel. In those case your best bet may be to just backup whatever data you can and format drive and install windows.

Nonetheless safe mode is a very useful escape hatch if your PC has bugs that would render you otherwise helpless, so keep it in mind the next time your PC refuses to boot. And as always practice safe computing.

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