Mode for Cleanup
Works for all versions of Windows
Updated 7-6-16 to add Windows 10
Added one more link 7-4-17
many times have you tried to uninstall programs, run Scandisk or Defrag
and been stopped with a message "You can't do this dum-dum. The
file is in use" or "This program has restarted too many
times and will abort" or something like that?
there is an easy way to solve it. First it helps to understand what
causes it. Elsewhere in the web site, I discuss using msconfig
to look at the files and programs that are activated when you start
Windows. You can use this to turn off anything you don't want running,
but using it just to do maintenance is cumbersome. Here is an easy
has a special startup mode called "Safe Mode" that starts
Windows as a bare bones program with no other files or operations
running. It happens automatically when Windows detects a problem and
gives you the opportunity to fix the problem. Let's look at a couple
of scenarios to understand what Safe Mode does.
you change monitors, sometimes when you start Windows, it thinks you
still have the old monitor and all you get on the screen is garbage.
Other times, there is a fault in Windows that prevents it from starting.
You want to reload Windows, but need to save some files first.
the above scenarios, you can use Safe Mode to correct the video and
times, trying to run Scandisk or Defrag won't finish, because every
time some file activates, it restarts the operation all over. This
can be caused by a screensaver or any one of a number of programs
that monitor what you are doing. Norton programs are the worst. They
run all the time and watch what you do.
how do we get into Safe Mode? That's the easy part. When you first
start the computer (or restart), just keep touching F8 rapidly until
a screen appears that has a number of choices like this:
2. Command Prompt
3. Safe Mode
4. Safe Mode with networking
and some other choices.
this point, your mouse does not work. Use the keyboard down arrow
to select number 3 and touch enter. Windows will go into Safe Mode.
You will get a warning telling you some stuff won't work. (Like the
Internet). Click OK. Your desktop will look funny since you are in
the lowest color settings and 640X480.
Here is a way to make the menu visible when you start Windows without
having to hit F8: In Windows click Start, Run and type msconfig. (Discussed
In Windows 10 right click on the window icon to select Run.
Click the Advanced or Boot tab on the general page. Then check the
box for Enable Start Menu or Safe boot. Then restart the computer
and the menu will display automatically.
XP, you need to go to the Boot.ini tab and select Safe Boot. Click
The images below show different versions of Windows. The one on the
right is Windowqs 10.
Solving Problems (See also Utilities)
can still go into the Control Panel and use the Add/Remove Programs
or Programs & Features to delete unwanted programs. This assures
it gets completely removed since no startup files are running. This
is especially true for removing an anti-virus program. They are very
hard to remove because they run all the time. Unfortunately using
the windows uninstall does not remove all the residual files that
get installed with a program. I use IOBit Uninstall because it can
remove these files.
can also use the Windows Explorer to copy files to an external USB
drive. Your DVD burner will not work in safe mode.
may be able to open various programs to save a backup of data. Programs
like Quicken, Quick Books, Family Tree Maker and some e-mail programs
have backup tools to copy data to a disk. Don't bother copying the
program, just the data.
you have finished saving any wanted information, try reloading Windows
from Safe Mode or use your restore disk and reload Windows.
in Safe Mode, you can still use Scandisk and Defrag They work better
since no interfering programs are running. When you are done, just
comment: A question from readers asks:
I download software updates and other software should I be in safemode?
if you choose SafeMode without network support. You can't because
the Internet access is not working. Safe mode is running Windows without
any support programs running. The advantage of using safe mode is
that it prevents interference between running programs that cause
the error messages, but what can be done is very limited. See the
last link for info on selecting Safe Mode with network support.
also my page of instructions on Downloading.
are many well
written articles on the web on how to get into Safe Mode. Here are
a few as of this writing:
for Windows 10
for Windows 8
for 8 & 10
All versions. Also a list of other guides in the right column.