How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking

Safe Mode

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. Furthermore, Safe Mode with Networking can be even more helpful than the default Safe Mode. If you’re wondering why we say that and what’s different about Safe Mode with Networking, read this guide. Besides explaining what’s what, we also show you how to restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking from the command line, as well as using Windows 10’s graphical user interface:

Quick Steps

Restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking using Shift + Restart:
  1. On the lock or sign-in screen, keep the Shift key pressed, click on the Power button, and then press Restart.
  2. After a short while, you should see a blue screen with three options. Click or tap on the second one: Troubleshoot.
  3. On the Troubleshoot screen, choose “Advanced options.”
  4. On the Advanced options screen, click or tap on “Startup Settings (Change Windows startup behavior).”
  5. Next, on the Startup Settings screen, click or tap on the Restart button.
  6. Windows 10 restarts and gives you some options for how it will boot up. To make it go into Safe Mode with Networking, choose option number five (press the number 5 key or the F5 function key).
  7. Windows 10 will now restart into Safe Mode with Networking.

What is Safe Mode with Networking in Windows 10? What’s the difference between Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking?

The default Safe Mode starts Windows using only a few core services and drivers to avoid 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.

That’s where the Safe Mode with Networking environment comes in handy. Safe Mode with Networking lets you boot your Windows computer using only a minimal set of services and drivers but also with the networking components included. However, note that during our tests, only Ethernet cable connections appeared to work, while Wi-Fi didn’t. That’s probably because wireless network cards require more advanced drivers than Ethernet cards, and Microsoft chose not to load them in Safe Mode.

Safe Mode with Networking

Safe Mode with Networking can be tremendously helpful 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. Now let’s see how to boot into Safe Mode with Networking in Windows 10:

1. How to restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking using the “Shift + Restart” keyboard shortcut

One of the easiest methods to boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode with Networking is to restart it while keeping the Shift key pressed. You can do that from the sign-in or lock screen, or from the Start Menu. If you’re on the lock or sign-in screen, keep the Shift key pressed, click on the Power button, and then press Restart.

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking from the Sign In screen

If you’re signed in to Windows 10, open the Start Menu and, while keeping the Shift key pressed, click the Power button, and then Restart.

Press Shift and select Restart to get to Windows 10's Safe Mode with Networking

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.

Choose Troubleshoot

On the Troubleshoot screen, choose “Advanced options.”

Select Advanced options

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

Enter Startup settings in Windows 10's recovery environment

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

Choose to restart Windows 10

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, choose 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.

Press 5 or F5 to restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking

Windows 10 will now restart into Safe Mode with Networking.

2. How to launch Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking from the command line, using an installation disc or USB memory stick

If your PC doesn’t boot Windows 10, but you have access to another computer, you can use the working computer to create a Windows 10 installation DVD or USB memory stick. Download Windows 10 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.

The Windows 10 Setup first screen

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.”

Choose Repair your computer

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

Select Troubleshoot

A screen called “Advanced options” is loaded: click or tap “Command Prompt (Use the Command Prompt for advanced troubleshooting).”

Open Command Prompt

To restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking from Command Prompt, run this command: bcdedit /set {default} safeboot network.

bcdedit /set {default} safeboot network

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

How to restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking from command line

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

Select Continue

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

IMPORTANT: To get back to normal boot, after you’ve finished repairs, follow the same steps, but run this command instead: bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot.

3. How to start Windows 10’s Safe Mode with Networking using msconfig (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. Launch System Configuration: a fast way to do it is to run msconfig or type “system configuration” in the search box on your taskbar, and then click or tap on System Configuration.

Open msconfig (System Configuration)

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

Enable Safe Boot and select Network in msconfig

After you click or tap on OK, Windows 10 pops up 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 in Safe Mode with Networking manually.

Restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking

When you restart, Windows 10 automatically enters Safe Mode with Networking. The first thing we found when that happened on our test computers was that Microsoft Edge launches automatically in this Safe Mode, loading the Windows help & learning website.

Windows 10 Safe Mode with Networking

You can now use Microsoft Edge to navigate the internet and download any repair tools you might need.

NOTE: Once you’ve finished troubleshooting your PC, you might ask yourself: “How do I turn off Safe Mode with Networking?”. The answer is straightforward: follow the same steps we’ve shown you, and disable the Safe boot setting from msconfig (System Configuration).

4. How to enter Windows 10’s Safe Mode with Networking 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.

Update & Security in Windows 10's Settings

On the left side of the window, click/tap to select Recovery. On the right, click or tap on the Restart now button from the Advanced startup section.

Restart now in Advanced startup

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 described earlier: follow the path “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart -> Enable Safe Mode with Networking” (press the 5 or the F5 key).

5. How to start Windows 10’s Safe Mode with Networking from a recovery drive

If you already have a recovery disk or create one on another Windows 10 computer, you can use it to boot your broken Windows 10 PC into Safe Mode with Networking.

Creating 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.

Choose your keyboard layout

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

Open the Troubleshoot options

The next steps you must take are the ones shown in the first 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. How to open Windows 10’s Safe Mode with Networking by interrupting the normal boot process of your PC

If Windows 10 fails to boot normally three times consecutively, the next time you try to start it, it automatically enters Automatic Repair mode, and from there, you can access the Safe Mode with Networking. What if you don’t manage to boot into Safe Mode with Networking in any other way? In that case, 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.

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.”

Preparing Automatic Repair

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

Diagnosing your PC

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

Advanced options on the Automatic repair screen

Then, the “Choose an option” screen loads. Click or tap on Troubleshoot.

Select Troubleshoot to get to Windows 10's recovery environment

Then follow the same steps we’ve shown in method number 1 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).

What’s your favorite method to restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking?

These are all the methods we know for booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode with Networking. If you know 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!

Discover: Productivity Recommended System and Security System Recovery Tutorials Windows