When it comes to diagnosing and fixing problems in Windows, a very useful feature is a Windows mode called Safe Mode with Networking. Safe Mode with Networking is a special mode that you can boot Windows into that loads a very minimal set of drivers, Windows services, and does not load any applications that are set to autostart. As this mode does support networking, this means that you can download tools, whether they be antivirus softoware or diagnostic tools, in order to fix issues you may be having.
This mode is especially useful when trying to remove files that may be in use, applications that won't uninstall properly, uninstalling or installing drivers, and removing malware.
Unfortunately, in order to increase the boot speed of Windows 10, Microsoft sacrificed easy access to Windows Safe Mode. Now instead of pressing F8 to access Safe Mode, like you did in previous versions of Windows, you now have to go through a variety of steps in order to startup in Safe Mode. These steps are outlined below.
The easiest way to begin the process of booting into Safe Mode with Networking is from the Windows 10 login screen. To access this screen, you can either log out, reboot your computer, or press the Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys a the same time.
Once you are at the Windows 10 sign-in screen, you should hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and not let it go. While holding down the Shift key, click on the Power button () and then click on Restart.
When Windows 10 restarts, you will be at the Choose an Option screen as shown below.
At the above screen click on the Troubleshooting button to access the Troubleshoot options screen.
At the above screen, now click on the Advanced Options button to access the Advanced Options screen as shown below.
At the above screen, click on the Startup Settings option and you will now be presented with the Startup Settings screen.
At the above screen, click on the Restart button. Windows will now begin to start, but you will be presented with a screen, as shown below, that provides various options you can select to specify how Windows should be started.
At this screen you should press the number 5 key on your keyboard to enter Safe Mode with Networking.
Windows 10 will now begin to boot and when done you will be presented with a login prompt. At this prompt you should enter your password to login and then you will be shown your desktop. This desktop, though, will be labeled in each corner with the words Safe Mode to indicate that you are in this mode. You can see an example of this screen below.
From this desktop you can launch programs, browsers, and download files that you need to fix any issues you may be having.
When you are ready to reboot back into normal mode, you can restart or shutdown your computer. On the next startup, Windows will boot into normal mode once again.
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