What to do if you can't get to Microsoft Windows Safe Mode

Updated: 10/18/2022 by Computer Hope

If the Safe Mode menu loads, but gives an error, restarts, or won't load Windows, your computer either has a corrupt system file, or there's a hardware issue.


Make sure you are entering Safe Mode properly. The Safe Mode menu can easily be missed if not navigated in the right way. See: How to open Safe Mode.

Windows safe mode

Remove new hardware

If you recently added any new hardware to the computer, we suggest removing it to make sure it is not causing the issue. If the problem goes away after removing new hardware, it's likely that the new hardware is defective. You can return the hardware and get a replacement for it, then try installing it again to see if the computer can still enter Safe Mode successfully.

Replace defective hardware

If new hardware was not added to the computer recently, one of the existing computer components is defective. Hard drives, memory, or motherboards are the most common hardware to go bad and cause problems with loading to Safe Mode. Finding a defective piece of hardware requires you to run diagnostic tests.

If diagnostic tests verify hardware that is defective or otherwise not working correctly, replace that hardware to fix the issue.

Activate restore point

If new or existing hardware is not found to be defective, it's highly likely there are corrupt Windows system files preventing Safe Mode from loading properly. A less intrusive method to try fixing the corrupt files is to activate a Windows restore point. A restore point is a snapshot of Windows at a previous time when everything worked correctly. If your computer has restore points available, activating one from a time before the Safe Mode problem occurred might fix the issue.

Reinstall Windows

If activating a restore point doesn't fix the problem, or no restore points are available, the last option is to reinstall Windows. As part of the installation process, we suggest erasing the computer's hard drive to eliminate any corrupt files. Make sure to back up any personal files before reinstalling Windows.


Although you could reinstall Windows over the top of the existing copy, we highly recommend you erase the hard drive and start over. Not only does this help test your hard drive, it also removes any corrupt programs, viruses, or malware from the computer.

If Windows is successfully reinstalled and you are now able to access Safe Mode, it was likely Windows was corrupted and reinstalling everything fixed the issue.

Other possible problems

If reinstalling Windows did not fix the problem, other hardware, like the CPU (Central Processing Unit) or power supply, may be not be working. You can try running other diagnostic tests to see if you find other hardware that is defective, or take your computer to a computer repair shop for further assistance.