Windows Start-up Settings (including safe mode)

With Windows Start-up Settings (which used to be called "Advanced boot options") you can start Windows in different advanced troubleshooting modes to help you find and fix problems on your PC.

To get to Windows Start-up Settings

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the bottom-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Under PC settings, tap or click Update and recovery, then tap or click Recovery.

  3. Under Advanced start-up, tap or click Restart now.

  4. Once your PC has restarted, on the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot.

    If you can't see the Start-up Settings option, tap or click Advanced options.

  5. Tap or click Start-up Settings.

  6. Tap or click Restart.

  7. On the Start-up Settings screen, choose the start-up setting you want.

  8. Sign in to your PC with a user account that has administrator rights.

Some options, such as safe mode, start Windows in a limited state where only essential programs are started. Other options start Windows with advanced features (typically used by system admins and IT pros). For more information, go to the Microsoft TechNet website for IT pros.


  • If you're using BitLocker, you'll need to suspend it before you can get to Windows Start-up Settings. If you're using Windows RT 8.1, you might be asked to enter your Device Encryption recovery key to get to the Start-up settings.

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Enable debugging

Starts Windows in an advanced troubleshooting mode intended for IT pros and system admins.

Enable boot logging

Creates a file, ntbtlog.txt, that lists all the drivers that are installed during start-up and that might be useful for advanced troubleshooting.

Enable low-resolution video (640×480)

Starts Windows using your current video driver and using low-resolution and refresh-rate settings. You can use this mode to reset your display settings.

Safe Mode

If you have a problem with your PC, you can troubleshoot by starting it in safe mode. Safe mode starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services. If a problem doesn't reappear when you start your PC in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers and services as possible causes. There are three different safe mode options

  • Safe Mode: Starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services.

  • Safe Mode with Networking: Starts Windows in safe mode and includes the network drivers and services needed to access the Internet or other computers on your network.

  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt: Starts Windows in safe mode with a Command Prompt window instead of the usual Windows interface. This option is intended for IT pros and system admins.

If the problem doesn't occur when you restart your PC in safe mode, you can be confident that the basic settings, files and drivers in Windows aren't causing the problem. Then, use a process of elimination to help you find the cause of the problem. Try starting all the applications on your desktop that you commonly use one by one (including the applications in your Start-up folder) to see if a specific application might be causing the problem. If so, uninstall the application or contact the software publisher. If the problem appears while in safe mode, or you still can’t find the problem, you can try refreshing or resetting your PC. For more information, see How to restore, refresh or reset your PC.

Disable driver signature enforcement

Allows drivers containing improper signatures to be installed.

Disable early launch anti-malware protection

Prevents the early launch anti-malware driver from starting, allowing drivers that might contain malware to be installed.

Disable automatic restart after failure

Prevents Windows from automatically restarting if an error causes Windows to fail. Choose this option only if Windows is stuck in a loop where Windows fails, tries to restart and fails again repeatedly.

Directory Services Restore Mode

Starts Windows domain controller running Active Directory so that the directory service can be restored. This option is intended for IT pros and system admins.

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