you get into Safe Mode? Very easily. When booting your
system, as soon as the first (POST) screen appears showing your memory and
hardware information, start pressing 'F8.'
The Windows XP advanced
options menu will come up listing various boot options. As you can see, there
are a few safe mode options available. 'Safe Mode' is the one we are interested
in for now. 'Safe mode with networking' allows you to connect to other computers
via a network, and also allows you Internet access if you are using an Internet
sharing device connected to your network. Note that dial up connections like DSL
will not work directly in safe mode. 'Safe mode with command prompt' does not
attempt to load the Windows Explorer graphical interface, instead transporting
you straight to XP's DOS-like command prompt.
Why should you remember all this?
Because safe mode is the
single best thing to try if you are experiencing problems booting your system or
if running certain software causes issues with your PC. Using safe mode can let
you determine if the problems you are experiencing are hardware malfunctions or
Safe mode works by providing
the minimal set of software needed to boot you into the Windows Graphic
environment. So, if you can boot in safe mode but cannot boot properly into the
normal Windows environment, you have a problem with some of the software or a
device driver installed on your system. Safe mode also provides you with access
to the tools you need to resolve these kinds of problems.
XP Home safe mode - some differences
The Windows XP Home safe mode
is fundamentally identical to the one in Windows XP Pro, with a couple of
notable changes. In Windows XP Home, the built-in 'administrator' account is
only available in safe mode and is the default account for that mode. The
password for the administrator account is blank, since it is not accessible
except in safe mode. It's recommended that you log in as this account to make
changes in safe mode.
The fact that the
administrator password is blank by default also allows you to use XP Home's safe
mode to reset the password of other user accounts on your machine in the event
that you lose the original password. Of course, this also means that every user
account on your system is vulnerable to someone with direct access to the
system, which is why XP Home is intended for non-business use only.
Practical uses for safe
Now let's explore some of the
uses that safe mode has on the average Windows XP desktop. There's a reason why
attempting to boot in safe mode is the first thing any tech will do when
confronted with a PC that will not boot fully into Windows.
Often the only way to
correctly remove certain persistent virus and spyware programs is to run your
system in safe mode. Many forms of malicious software will protect or reinstall
themselves constantly if they are allowed to start in the first place. These
programs will situate themselves in one of the many autorun locations in the
Windows XP registry and file structure, so when Windows is started normally, so
is the offending software, running as a process in the background.
When you start the PC in safe
mode, these autorun locations are not used, and no software is started
automatically. This can allow virus and spyware removal programs the opportunity
they need to correctly and completely remove the malicious software.
If you are having virus or
spyware problems on your PC, you should always run antivirus and anti-spyware
programs in safe mode to ensure that they have maximum effect. If you are
following manual virus removal instructions from a website like
www.sarc.com, they will often
require safe mode also.