Start the computer in Safe Mode

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

To start the computer in Safe Mode

  1. Click Start, and then click Shut Down.

  2. Select Restart, and then click OK.

  3. Press F8 at the indicated time:

    • For an x86-based computer: When a screen of text appears and then disappears (the screen of text may include a memory test, lines about the BIOS, and other lines), press F8. There may be a prompt that tells you when to press F8.

    • For an Itanium architecture-based computer: After making your selection from the boot menu, press F8. There may be a prompt that tells you when to press F8.

    For information about configuring system settings that affect whether a prompt for F8 appears and how long it appears, see "To specify the default operating system for startup" in Related Topics at the bottom of this page.

  4. Use the arrow keys to highlight the appropriate Safe Mode option, and then press ENTER.

    NUM LOCK must be off before the arrow keys on the numeric keypad will function.

  5. Use the arrow keys to highlight an operating system, and then press ENTER.


  • In Safe Mode, Windows only uses basic files and drivers (that is, mouse, monitor, keyboard, mass storage, base video, default system services, and no network connections). You can choose the Safe Mode with Networking option, which loads all of the above files and drivers plus the essential services and drivers to start networking, or the Safe Mode with Command Prompt option, which is exactly the same as Safe Mode except that a command prompt is started instead of the user interface. You can also choose Last Known Good Configuration startup option, which starts your computer using registry information that was saved at the last shutdown.

  • Safe Mode helps you diagnose problems. If a symptom does not reappear when you start in Safe Mode, you can eliminate the default settings and minimum device drivers as possible causes. If a newly added device or a changed driver is causing problems, you can use Safe Mode to remove the device or reverse the change.

  • There are circumstances where Safe Mode will not be able to help you, such as when Windows system files required to start the system are corrupted or damaged. In this case, the Recovery Console may help you.

Information about functional differences

  • Your server might function differently based on the version and edition of the operating system that is installed, your account permissions, and your menu settings. For more information, see Viewing Help on the Web.

See Also


Startup options
Start the computer at a command prompt
Start the computer using the last known good configuration
Specify the default operating system for startup
Recovery Console overview
Repair overview