Windows provides a feature known as Safe Mode, which allows users to start their computers in a minimal and diagnostic state. On Windows 2000 and earlier versions of Windows, Safe Mode is activated by pressing the F8 key after the computer begins the boot process.
When the “Windows Advanced Options” menu appears, users should select the option that reads “Safe Mode.” Once selected, Windows will load a minimal set of drivers and services to help diagnose and fix any problems with the operating system. This includes disabling most components of the graphical user interface, such as the Start menu, taskbar, and desktop icons, as well as disabling network connections, printers, and other hardware devices.
Once in Safe Mode, users are free to perform various system recovery and maintenance tasks, such as performing disk checks, running disk defragmenters, or deleting unwanted files. At this point, the user can also choose to start the computer in Normal Mode by selecting the appropriate option from the Windows Advanced Options menu.
Users who are unable to access the Windows Advanced Options menu may need to start their computers in Safe Mode manually. This can be done by restarting the computer and entering a special key combination at the keyboard during the boot process. On Windows 2000, users should press and hold the CTRL+F8 keys; on Windows XP, the combination is CTRL+SHIFT+F8.
Once in Safe Mode, users can either troubleshoot the problem manually, or install any necessary software updates. They can also use the System Restore feature to restore the computer to an earlier, working state. System Restore takes a snapshot of the system, so users may have to experiment with different dates before finding one that resolves their issue.
Finally, once the problem has been resolved, users should restart their computers in Normal Mode. This allows them to take advantage of all the features and functions of the operating system.