What is the difference between Normal and Safe Mode in Windows?

Updated: 03/06/2020 by Computer Hope
normal and safe mode

Often when users encounter problems that prohibit Microsoft Windows from operating normally, they're instructed to enter Safe Mode. This altered version of Windows allows users to correct issues so their computer starts properly. The following list contains the differences between starting Windows normally and booting it into Safe Mode.

Key changes in Safe Mode

  • Most device drivers are not loaded upon startup, only those essential for primary function.
  • Windows loads in VGA (video graphics array) graphics mode with a smaller color palette and resolution.
  • The words "Safe Mode" are printed in all four corners of the screen.
  • Safe Mode does not run many files including autoexec.bat and config.sys.
  • In Safe Mode, Windows tests the extended memory before loading.
  • Instead of using the standard system.ini file, Windows boots using a batch file called system.cb that allows Windows to communicate with system hardware via Virtual Device Drivers.