6 ways to boot into Safe Mode with Networking in Windows 10

The Safe Mode environment in Windows is one of the best ways to diagnose and repair problems that stop the operating system from loading correctly or even from loading at all. The default Safe Mode starts Windows using only a few core services and drivers so that it avoids as many issues as possible. Unfortunately, the minimal Safe Mode means that your Windows computer doesn’t get access to the network or the internet. However, there’s also a Safe Mode with Networking environment available, which you can use to boot your Windows computer using only a minimal set of services and drivers, but with the networking components included. It can be tremendously useful when you need to download repair tools from the internet or when your computer is infected with malware, and you must download and run antivirus tools that are up to date. Here’s how to boot into Safe Mode with Networking in Windows 10:

1. Use System Configuration

Probably the easiest way to boot a Windows 10 PC into Safe Mode with Networking is to use the System Configuration tool, otherwise known as msconfig.exe. To launch System Configuration, start typing “system configuration” in Cortana’s search box on your taskbar. Then, once the search results start appearing, click or tap on System Configuration.

An alternative way to open System Configuration is to use the Run window. Simultaneously press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard, type msconfig in the Open text field, and then click or tap OK or press Enter on your keyboard.

In the System Configuration window, click or tap the Boot tab. Then, check Safe boot in the Boot options section and then choose Network.

After you click or tap on OK, Windows 10 will pop a notification in which it tells you that you must restart your computer to make the changes. If you want to go into Safe Mode with Networking right now, click/tap on Restart. Otherwise, choose to “Exit without restart” and when you’re ready, restart your Windows 10 PC manually.

When you restart, Windows 10 will automatically start into Safe Mode with Networking. The first thing we found when that happened on our test computers, was that Microsoft Edge doesn’t work in this mode.

Fortunately, you can use the old Internet Explorer to navigate on the internet and download any repair tools you might need.

2. Use the Recovery options from the Settings app

You can also boot into Safe Mode with Networking if you use the advanced Startup Settings from Windows 10. Start by opening the Settings app and then click or tap on the Update & security section.

On the left side of the window, click/tap to select Recovery.

On the right side of the Settings app, click or tap on the Restart now button from the Advanced startup section.

After a short while, you should see a blue screen with three options: “Continue (Exit and continue to Windows 10”, “Troubleshoot (Reset your PC or see advanced options),” and “Turn off your PC.” Click or tap on the second one: Troubleshoot.

On the Troubleshoot screen, choose “Advanced options.”

On the Advanced options screen, click or tap on “Startup Settings (Change Windows startup behavior).”

Next, on the Startup Settings screen, click or tap on the Restart button.

After a short while, Windows 10 restarts and gives you some options for how it will boot up. To make it go into Safe Mode with Networking, you must choose the option number five: “5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking”. To select it, either press the number 5 key or the F5 function key on your keyboard.

Windows 10 will now boot into Safe Mode with Networking.

3. Use the “Shift + Restart” combination

Another method to boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode with Networking is to restart it while keeping the Shift key pressed. You can do that both from the Start Menu and from the lock screen. What’s important is to keep Shift pressed when you click/tap on Restart.

Then Windows 10 loads the same “Choose an option” screen that we’ve shown in the previous method from this guide. From here on, you should follow the same steps as those we described earlier: follow the path “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart -> Enable Safe Mode with Networking” (press the 5 or the F5 key).

4. Use a Windows 10 installation disc or USB memory stick, and the Command Prompt

If your PC doesn’t boot Windows 10 at all, but you have access to another computer, you can use the working computer to create a Windows 10 installation DVD or USB memory stick. Follow the steps from this tutorial: How to download Windows 10 Creators Update and create your own installation media. Then, insert the DVD or the USB memory stick in your non-working Windows 10 computer and boot from it. Wait for the Windows 10 setup wizard to load and choose the language and keyboard layout you prefer. Then, click or tap Next.

On the next screen, don’t click/tap on Install. Instead, look at the bottom left part of the wizard and click/tap on “Repair your computer.”

The screen called “Choose an option” loads. On it, click or tap Troubleshoot.

Then a screen called “Advanced options” is loaded. Click or tap “Command Prompt (Use the Command Prompt for advanced troubleshooting).”

Once the Command Prompt is loaded, use it to enter and run this command: bcdedit /set {default} safeboot network.

Press Enter on your keyboard. The Command Prompt should state “The operation completed successfully.”

Close the Command Prompt and then click or tap on “Continue (Exit and continue to Windows 10)”.

After your PC restarts, Windows 10 will boot into Safe Mode with Networking.

5. Use a Windows 10 recovery disk

If you already have a recovery disk or if you can create one on another Windows 10 computer, you can use it to boot your broken Windows 10 PC into Safe Mode with Networking. For guidance on how to create a recovery drive, read this tutorial: How to create a Recovery Drive in Windows 10.

Plug the recovery drive in your Windows 10 PC and use it to boot. The first screen you see asks you what keyboard layout you prefer to use. Click or tap on the one you want.

Then, on the “Choose an option” screen, click or tap on “Troubleshoot (Reset your PC or see advanced options.”

The next steps you must take are the same as those we’ve shown in the second method from this guide. Essentially you should follow this path: “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart -> Enable Safe Mode with Networking” (press the 5 or the F5 key).

6. Interrupt the normal boot process of your Windows 10 PC

If Windows 10 fails to boot normally for three times, the next time you try to start it, it will automatically enter in the Automatic Repair mode, and from there you can access the Safe Mode with Networking. If you don’t manage to boot into Safe Mode with Networking in any other way, you can trigger the Automatic Repair mode by interrupting the normal boot process three times over: use the reset or the power button on your Windows 10 computer to stop it during boot. Note that if you use the power button, you might have to keep it pressed for at least 4 seconds to force the power off. When your Windows 10 computer enters the Automatic Repair mode, the first thing you see is a screen that tells you that the operating system is “Preparing Automatic Repair.”

After a short while, the “Automatic Repair” tries to diagnose the problems that keep your Windows 10 PC from booting successfully.

When the “Automatic Repair” screen is loaded, click or tap on the “Advanced options” button.

Then the “Choose an option” screen loads: click or tap on Troubleshoot.

Then follow the same steps we’ve shown in method number 2 from this guide. In short, follow this path: “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart -> Enable Safe Mode with Networking” (press the 5 or the F5 key).

Conclusion

These are all the methods we know for booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode with Networking. If you want to know how to boot Windows 10 using the standard Safe Mode environment, read this guide: 4 Ways to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10. If you know of other methods for getting into Safe Mode with Networking, please share them in the comments below. And if you need further help on this matter, don’t hesitate to ask!