Article Number: 000137714

How to boot into safe mode on Windows Vista and 7 on your Dell PC

Summary: This article is a guide to booting your Dell PC into safe mode with Windows Vista or Windows 7 installed as your operating system.

Article Content

SLN151827_en_US__1icon Note: As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers are no longer receiving new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates from Microsoft. This article will no longer be updated and remains for information only. Please visit the Microsoft site for the full end of support statement.

This article provides information on what safe mode is and how to boot to it in Windows Vista and 7 your PC.  For other Operating systems please select here -  Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1 and XP 

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Safe Mode?
  2. How to Boot to Safe Mode
  3. Safe Mode options explained


What is Safe Mode?


Safe Mode is a series of boot options that starts Windows with a limited set of files and drivers. Most start-up programs won't run in safe mode It uses only the most basic drivers to start Windows up.

Safe mode is used for troubleshooting problems with programs or drivers that won't start correctly or that could be stopping Windows from running correctly. If the problem isn't seen in safe mode, you can go ahead and rule out the default settings and the basic device drivers as being at fault. If a new program, device or driver stops Windows from running properly, you can start your computer in safe mode and then remove the program that's causing the problem.  

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How to Boot to Safe Mode


  1. Take out any floppy disks, CDs or DVDs from your PC. Then restart your computer.

  2. Click on Start, click the arrow next to Shut Down and click Restart.



  1. You need to boot to the Advanced Boot Options screen before your version of Windows starts to load.

    1. If your computer has only one operating system (OS), tap the <F8> key rapidly as your computer starts up. If the Windows logo appears, you've gone past and you'll need to restart your computer and try again.

    2. If your computer has more than one operating system installed, use the cursor <ARROW> keys to highlight the OS you want to start in safe mode, and then tap rapidly at the <F8> key before the OS loads.

    • Windows Boot Manager
    • Choose an operating system to start, or press TAB to select a tool:
      (Use the arrow keys to highlight your choice, then press ENTER.)
    • Microsoft Windows Vista
      Windows XP
    • To Specify an advanced option for this choice, press F8.
      Seconds until the highlighted choice will be started automatically: 23
    • Tools:  
        Windows Memory Diagnostic
    • ENTER=Choose TAB=Menu ESC=Cancel


    1. The Advanced Boot Options screen come up, use the cursor <ARROW> keys to highlight the safe mode option you want and then press the <ENTER> key.

      • Advanced Boot Options
      • Choose Advanced Options for Windows 7
        (Use the arrow keys to highlight your choice.)
      •       Repair your Computer
      •       Safe Mode

              Safe Mode with Networking
              Safe Mode with Command Prompt
      •       Enable Boot Logging
              Enable low-resolution video (640x480)
              Last Known Good Configuration (advanced)
              Directory Services Restore Mode
              Debugging Mode
              Disable automatic restart on system failure
              Disable Driver Signature Enforcement

      •       Start Windows Normally
      • download View a list of system recovery tools you can use to repair
        startup problems, run diagnostics or restore your system.
      • ENTER=Choose       ESC=Cancel


      1. You want to make sure you Log on to your PC with an Administrator account.

      2. You should now be in safe mode, you should see the words Safe Mode in the corners of the screen. once you've finished and you want to exit safe mode, just restart your PC as normal and let Windows start up normally.


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      Safe Mode options explained


      There are three different types of Safe Mode possible on the Advanced Boot Options menu.

      Safe Mode

      Starts Windows with the minimum of drivers and services possible.

      Safe Mode with Networking

      Same as Safe Mode, but includes the drivers and services needed to enable the network. (You also need this mode if you need to plug peripherals like a USB key to the system.)

      Safe Mode with Command Prompt 

      Same as Safe Mode but the Command Prompt as the user interface instead of the windows desktop Graphical User Interface (GUI).

      Generally, it's advised to try Safe Mode first. If that doesn't work, then try either Safe Mode with Command Prompt if you're comfortable with command-line commands and troubleshooting or Safe Mode with Networking if you're going to need network/Internet access and have tools you need to load onto the system. 

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      Article Properties

      Affected Product

      Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations

      Last Published Date

      21 Feb 2021



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