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Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

There’s been a rash of issues lately with Windows 10 updates and Insider Preview upgrades. Some of these have left PCs with boot problems. I read about a particularly interesting case in point on TenForums this morning. Its title “Caught in safe mode” tell us the author wants to break out of a vicious cycle. It seems that his or her attempted repairs have left the PC in a state where it lacks a mouse and keyboard. All the user can do is reboot. This provides no relief at all (because there’s no mouse or keyboard when the next reboot completes). Ouch! No wonder a Win10 Safe Mode breakout technique is needed.

Readying the Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

To begin, because boot isn’t currently working, an alternate boot source is needed. A Windows 10 bootable installer, or a rescue or recovery disk of some kind, meet this need nicely. Normally, this will be a USB flash drive (UFD) that includes a bootable version of the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) or the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE). For the following examples, I used a Windows 10 installer for 1709. Aka the Fall Creator’s Update (FCU) I grabbed it using the Media Creation Tool. You could use a recovery disk (which Win10 will build), or something like Kyhi’s Rescue Disk instead, if you like.

Next, you need to boot your PC from that alternate source. This usually requires changing the boot order, to over-ride the normal selection and force the PC to boot from the repair or rescue media. That means accessing the BIOS or UEFI at boot-up. In turn, this often involves striking a Function key (F12 on many of my PCs and laptops), then choosing the UFD as the boot source to get repairs underway.

Running the Win10 Safe Mode Breakout Technique

After that, you’ll want to get into the Command Prompt interface on the repair or rescue disk you just booted into. (If you’re not clear on how to do this: I just blogged on this Monday in “Bootrec Fixes Win10 Boot Problems.” Get those details there.) Once you get into the command window, type the bcdedit command there. You should see something like this appear in response:

Running BCDEdit with no arguments shows you the Boot Configuration Data for the OS you’re running and the one you’re repairing.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

The second block of text is where the key info resides. You want to check the identifier value at the top of that block. In the foregoing example, it reads {default}. The general syntax for your next command is:

bcdedit /deletevalue {identifier} safeboot

Because the identifier in this case is {default} the literal command here (and for many other readers of this blog post who will find that same identifier in their command prompt windows after running the first command) is:

bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot

That’s all there is to it. Of course if your identifier is different, you should use that one instead. But hey! You’ve just deleted the setting that turns on safeboot the next time the PC boots. That’s why the next boot should occur normally. Of course, you will have to exit the command prompt window, and then turn off your PC (or reboot) to get back into a more normal mode of operation. From there, you should be able to start fixing anything else that needs your attention…

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