Working with the Safe Mode options in Windows Server 2008

Safe Mode is one of the oldest diagnostic features of Windows, and it’s still one that you find used quite often to locate problems. The idea behind Safe Mode is that the operating system boots with the minimal number of features in place that are necessary for the operating system to work. By removing all the extraneous features, you can determine whether the operating system will even boot. If Windows doesn’t boot in Safe Mode, you can more or less guarantee that something terrible has happened and it won’t boot at all. Safe Mode also makes it possible to fix problems. You can uninstall a problem device driver, service, or application in order to boot the system. It’s also possible to undo registry changes that may have looked good at the time but ultimately caused Windows to stop booting properly. This mode normally lets you restore a backup that you made as long as the backup device has the proper drivers installed. In short, even though you don’t want to use Safe Mode to perform any actual work, it can clear the way to fixing your system and making it possible to boot it again. Windows actually provides three kinds of Safe Mode. Each form serves a specific purpose, so you should choose the form that best suits your needs. The following sections describe each form.

Using standard Safe Mode
Standard Safe Mode is the most restrictive form: None of the non-essential device drivers, services, or applications load. In fact, you can’t even access the network. Your system becomes a standalone machine that really can’t do much except recover from whatever problem has affected it. Use standard Safe Mode when you don’t need network access but you do need to use the graphical interface to perform a task. For example, you can use this mode for the following tasks:

• Restore a backup.

• Perform a backup.

• Modify the registry.

• Uninstall an errant application, device driver, or service.

• Perform GUI-based diagnostics.

Using Safe Mode with Networking
The Safe Mode with Networking option performs the normal Safe Mode setup and then adds any drivers, services, and applications required to create a network connection. The resulting network connection lets you access other machines. Windows also restores any device mappings for your system so that you have access to hard drives on other systems. Whether you have access to printers depends on which drivers and application software the printer requires. You shouldn’t count on using a printer in Safe Mode because Windows doesn’t load the printer software in most cases. Use the Safe Mode with Networking option when you need the extra capability that network support can provide and you’re certain that the network isn’t the cause of your problem. You may actually want to start the system in the standard Safe Mode first to ensure that it boots at all before you use this option. You can use this mode for the following tasks:

• Install an application, device driver, or service update using a file on a server.

• Connect to another machine to compare its setup with the local setup.

• Use a shared Internet connection to obtain updates online.

• Use a shared Internet connection to search for troubleshooting help, leave help messages on newsgroups, and search vendor Web sites for additional information.

• Troubleshoot a network connectivity problem in an environment free of other software.

• Make the troubled system available for collaborative troubleshooting.

You should never place a machine with questionable software on the network. In some cases, a virus, some adware, or another type of malicious software can load, even using the Safe Mode with Networking option. When a system has a potential infection, you should isolate it from the rest of the network and perform any required cleanup before you reattach it. Otherwise, you risk giving the same problem to other machines on the network.

Using Safe Mode with Command Prompt
The Safe Mode with Command Prompt option starts the system in Safe Mode but doesn’t start the graphical user interface (GUI). What you see instead is a command prompt where you can run utilities to determine the system status. You may not think that the command prompt has much to offer, but you can perform nearly any configuration task at the command prompt without GUI interference. In fact, Windows Server 2008 includes a new utility named Server ManagerCmd that makes it considerably easier to configure your server from the command prompt. You can use this mode for the following tasks:

• Verify that the graphical components aren’t causing a system failure.

• Perform configuration tasks outside the GUI to determine whether the GUI is keeping them from completing normally.

• Use batch files or other character-based tools to troubleshoot your system faster than you can when using the GUI (this mode provides a significant performance boost).

The Safe Mode with Command Prompt option doesn’t start most of the GUI features that you may have used in the past. You can’t even use a mouse. Consequently, make sure you know how to perform tasks using just the keyboard.

In addition, you don’t have access to the Start menu. If you start in this mode, you need to type Shutdown /s and press Enter. This command shuts off the system completely. If you decide that you want to restart the computer instead, type Shutdown /r and press Enter. When working at the command prompt, use the pipe symbol () followed by the More command to display long screens of Help information. For example, if you want to see all the help information for the Shutdown command, you type Shutdown /? More and press Enter. Windows displays the Help information one screen at a time.

Source of Information : For Dummies Windows Server 2008 All In One Desk Reference For Dummies

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