Tip: Access Safe Mode in Windows Server 2012 and newer

    Where is the Safe Mode boot menu?

    Before Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 you had the possibility to press F8 repeatedly at startup and a cool menu would pop up. This menu would let you boot Windows in Safe Mode to troubleshoot problems with the system like bad drivers or bad settings, into Safe Mode with Command Prompt that would not run the Windows Explorer and give you just a CMD and many more options to help you undo bad settings. With Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 this got a little harder: the F8 trick is disabled but the menu can still be accessed by other means.

    Using MSCONFIG to enter Safe Mode

    This cool program lets you specify in what mode Windows will load the next time it boots. You can find it from the search input on the start menu; just type msconfig.

Find msconfig

Find msconfig

    The boot options are located on the Boot tab, obviously.

Boot options in msconfig

Boot options in msconfig

    Now just check the Safe Boot option and select one of the 4 options. The meaning of these 4 radio boxes is:

  • Minimal represents the normal Safe Mode option
  • Alternate shell is Safe Mode without the GUI; just a CMD
  • Active Directory repair represents a mode that is meant for Domain Controllers in which the AD database is not mounted and objects can be restored from backups
  • Network is Safe Mode with networking
Enable safe mode boot

Enable safe mode boot

    After selecting an option just Apply and restart when prompted. You will be in the chosen mode. After you are done with what is needed just remember to run MSCONFIG again and disable the boot option otherwise the OS will not boot normally.

    Enable Safe Mode menu from CMD

    MSCONFIG is good but what if you are on Server Core or you really want to see that boot menu before starting Windows? Well there is a solution for this also. All newer Windows versions give us the possibility of restoring the F8 menu functionality. It can be done from CMD with BCDEDIT. Just run the following command to enable it:


Bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes

Enable the Safe Mode menu

Enable the Safe Mode menu

    Now every time the server is started up just press F8 repeatedly before Windows boots and the Advanced Boot options menu will appear.

Advanced Boot options menu

Advanced Boot options menu

    To disable the menu just replace the yes from the command with a no and you are done.

 

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