When Windows 10 starts normally it is considered in normal mode and all parts of Window starts along with any applications you have set up to start when Windows starts (usually you were not aware as you installed a program that there may have been a button to have start at startup or it just made that choice automatically).
Safe mode is a method of starting Windows with just the limited services and resources run to start it. This is often used as a diagnostic tool to determine if an application, an update, or something else is blocking Windows from starting. Sometimes when Windows will not start, just starting in safe mode fixes the problem and when you shut down and restart normally all is fine. Other times you may need to remove new or updated applications and that fixes it.
In older versions of Windows, you would press the F% or F8 key repetitively when starting the computer before windows started and you would go to safe mode. Windows 10 is different (this should work in Windows 11 also; however, I have not tried it in 11 as I am still on 10).
If Windows will not start, then try restarting Windows three times. On the third time it will take you in Recovery. Choose Troubleshoot. Then choose Advanced Options then choose Advanced Startup Options. Then choose Startup Settings. Choose Restart and then you will get a list of options at startup and choose 4 to go in Safe Mode.
If Windows is running and you want to restart in Safe Mode when you choose Restart from the Power option in the Start menu, hold the shift key down at the same time you choose Restart.
You will have options to both ways to either just do Safe Mode (what I use most often in repairs), Safe mode with networking (often fails for me because it was related to network the problem I was having) or Safe Mode Command Prompt (does not start the GUI so you get a prompt like in DOS (just something like C:>) and there is nothing graphical or pictures which occasionally can help, but basically you are running DOS (yes welcome back to the 1980s) and no Windows.
Send me your questions about computers to my e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me you read this in this paper. I will pick a question to answer each week.
Dwight Watt does computer work for businesses, individuals and organizations and teaches about computers at a technical college in northwest Georgia. His webpage is www.dwightwatt.com.
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