Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #13 6/24/2009

Question: What are Normal Mode and Safe Modes?

Normal Mode and Safe Mode are the two ways that Windows can be run. You normally run in Normal Mode. Safe Mode is used for diagnosing problems and repairing problems n Windows.

Normal Mode is how Windows normally starts and runs. In Normal Mode all the drivers (programs to run your devices such as your printer, scanner, etc) are loaded allowing you use of all your devices attached to your computer. Also all the programs that start when Windows is started are run such as your anti-virus program, fast startups to programs like Office and photo editing, and other programs that assist other programs in running. If malicious programs such as viruses have gotten on your machine they will be started also.

Safe Mode is a way of starting and running Windows with just the minimal programs and drivers that Windows needs. This means in Safe Mode many of your devices will not work like USB connected printers. However Windows will still recognize devices like disk drives, floppy drives and CD drives. Also none of the extra programs that normally start at Windows startup will be running. This includes any malicious programs that may be on your machine.

Some spyware will take complete control of your machine in Normal Mode throwing so many pop-ups, etc that you can never run the scanner of your anti-virus/spyware program. Safe Mode allows you to get around this.

To start Windows in Normal Mode normally just turn on the computer and let it work. To start Windows in Safe Mode you will need to continuously tap the F5 key when you start your machine and it will lead you to a menu of Windows startup options. At the Options Menu you will see a number of options. The main ones you are concerned with are: Normal Mode is one choice and Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking. If you need to go to Safe Mode then most of the time you want plain Safe Mode. If you need the Internet to run a program to diagnose or repair Windows then choose With Networking. Once you choose Safe Mode (whichever variety) you will see a list of drivers loaded shown on the screen. You will then get a message of whether you want to really run Safe Mode or do System Restore. Choose Safe Mode. You will get a logon screen as normal except Administrator will also be listed. Logon either as your username or Administrator (administrator has more power) and you will be at the desktop. You can now run the diagnostic/repair/anti-malware programs as normal, but there are no programs running in background that may interfere. The anti-malware programs (anti-spyware and anti-virus) can do a better job cleaning. When you are through just shutdown or restart as normal and Windows should reboot in Normal Mode. If it goes to the options screen just choose Normal Mode and you should be back to Normal and a better machine.

Send me your questions about computers to me at the paper or to my e-mail dwight@dwightwatt.com and tell me you read this in the paper. I will pick a question to answer each week.

(c) 2010 by Dwight Watt
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