Fixed – Windows 2008 Server continually boots into safe mode.

We had a weird issue this morning after applying windows updates to a server and found that the server had rebooted into safe mode. We tried various methods of forcing the server back to normal mode through the F8 prompt, even attempting a Windows Repair from cd but nothing seemed to work.
In the end we ran “bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot” from the command prompt, rebooted the server and it came back up in normal mode. There was a long, very dramatic pause, whilst the server reverted changes to the windows updates but we were eventually able to log back into the server. We then took a snapshot and installed the windows updates 50% at a time – and of course, this time every patch installed successfully.
I suspected that the server was reading the bcd and booting into safe mode, but I’d have thought that pressing F8 and selecting normal mode would have overwritten this selection – obviously I was wrong.
I really long for the good old boot.ini days.
The Technet article “Restart the domain controller in Directory Services Restore Mode Remotely” gave us the bcdedit commands to run. It was amazing how many google hits there are for failing to restart a server in safe mode (oops – here’s another one), but not many on how to stop a Windows 2008 Server from starting in safe mode.

42 Replies to “Fixed – Windows 2008 Server continually boots into safe mode.”

  1. Had the same problem here, it actually took us a while to realise it was booting up in safe mode as we were having trouble logging in and assumed it was a AD corruption or a disk error. Eventually, we logged in as local admin and spotted Safe Mode on the desktop.

    We did not manage to identify what switched the Safe Boot on on the server (presumably windows updates) but could not get it to boot into normal mode even using F8 as u described. We fixed it using msconfig which I think alters the BCD in the same way your command line does and all is fine now. We did not have a dramatic pause, just a sigh of relief.

  2. I’m very glad I found this post. Thanks for the answer. This worked like a charm. Still not sure what caused the menu to be set as such as we did not even apply any updates.

  3. Thanks heaps for providing this fix, every time I was restoring a specific win 2008 server from backup it would keep booting safe mode even if normal was selected.

  4. Hi, just experienced the same thing on our Domain controller, was continuously booting into Safemode – Directory Services Repair mode.

    Managed to boot to safe mode with command prompt (was able to authenticate as domain admin) and then run msconfig.exe to uncheck safe mode boot options and server boots ok now. Was very wary about doing anything else that would possibly involve any kind of rebuild…

  5. Thank you for taking the time to post this. After a power outage on a storage array hosting our domain controllers, one would only boot into dsrm. Your post fixed it.

    Brett

  6. You are a life saver! Rebooted a client machine after some updates and for the life of me couldn’t figure out what was happening. Also went down the AD issues path. When I finally noticed it was rebooting into safe mode, a quick google and I found this article. BCD command did the trick nicely, thanks!

  7. Great find thank you very much. This issue happened with me when I switched Internet services providers. I forgot to disable DCHP on the router the ISP gave me so when I did and made changes to the Server. I shutdown and it came back up in Safemode. Weird but thankfully it is working now.

  8. I also want to thank you for taking the time to post this issue and the solution!
    You saved me from days of headaches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank You!

  9. Don’t know what caused this, but yep, worked for me too on the server that controls our Switchboard software. Used “msconfig” and unticked “safe boot”. Its 8pm, you’ve saved me from a crap night and a nightmare day tomorrow…!

  10. Allowing server to boot to safe mode > cmd prompt >type msconfig.exe >uncheck safe mode boot. This did it for me. It did not go to safe mode, but showed “preparing to configure your computer…Do not turn off your computer.” Thanks for the notes here by everyone. Same here, I mean it’s a hairy thing to have your customer’s DC not boot up and it’s late at nigh! Thanks again, I can’t say how much it’s worth a few hours for sure!

  11. My SBS 2011 (Windows 2008 R2) won’t start in normal mode after Windows Updates.
    Deleting the BCD safeboot entry solved this issue.
    Thank you for this notice.

  12. This just was not something I looked to. I was looking at corruptions that were causing the continuous entry into safe mode.

    Great Microsoft in an update that causes more problems than it fixed. But hey just like Microsoft and then pay them a fee to find out what’s gone wrong.

    Kudos to the poster its Sunday and I was contemplating a rebuild and this simple tick box saved my weekend

  13. Thanks Desmond Oshiwambo for high-lite msconfig command. I was stuck almost 1 1/2 half day to bring-up the server on normal mode.

    Remove/stopped unnecessary services and start-up apps. It works. TQ

  14. I Eric Rodriguez from Computer Distributors Inc. from
    Puerto Rcio want to thank you for taking the time to post this issue and the solution! You saved me from days of Big Problems in My Company…

    from the bottom of my hart. : )

    Thanks…

  15. Thanks for posting this solution. Worked like a charm. We had applied automatic windows updates on a Windows 2008 R2 domain controller and after that, the safeboot flag was set. After removing the value with bdcedit, the system started normally and AD and DNS worked fine again. (I did have another working DC, though)

  16. Suffering the same problem continously, disable the safe mode option in msconfig and restart brings it back to normal mode, but another restart and the safe mode option is re-enabled! Anyone seeing this?

  17. Hey Phil,

    Same problem here with 2 sbs 2008 customers, the safe mode option is often re-enabled.. this seems to be some sort of bug?

  18. Thank you so much guys. In my case, it was server 2012 R2. I went into Msconfig and unchecked the safe boot option and then it started booting from normal mode. I appreciate the resolution post.

  19. Hi everybody, thanx for this solution but is it a permanent solution. Will it prohibit the server tot boor in safe mode after future windows updates or do I have to perform this action after every windows update?

  20. Im seeing the exact same issue on a SBS2011.
    Its set to autorestart every sunday.

    To fix it I logon as “non-domain” admin and run MSCONFIG.
    Then I click “boot” and remove the “Safe Boot\AD Repair” and click apply.
    Then go into “general tab” and notice that its on “Selective startup” and that “Use original boot configuration” aint set.

    If I try “Normal startup” it re-sets the “Boot\safeboot\ad repair
    So it seems im stuck in some kind of a loop …

  21. Hi,
    thansk a lot for your tip.

    Just had the same problem after a windows update on windows2012 STD (not R2) with exchange2013 and 120 users emails boxes..

    Were able to reboot in normal mode, use quickfix to reset/solve windows update problems.

    Thanks again one million.

  22. We had 2011 as a VM and it was doing my head in. You clue of it being in Safe Mode but not showing it was the answer.

    Managed to log into local admin account and use msconfig to turn off Safe Mode and it’s now running.

    Thanks for your post, looks like it’s help will live on for longer.

  23. Thanks for this post, unfortunately I restored the OS drive from backups only to see the same error. Ran the CLi command and server booted normally again. Wish I found the post before I did the restore.

  24. You are a life saver, just had this after installing todays windows updates on Windows 2012 R2 server

  25. Your fix is GOLD !! Same symptoms and same solution on 2008 R2 DC. Windows updates concerned were KB2977728, KB2923545, KB2647753, KB2994023, KB2515325, KB2978092. Splitting the installs after the repair did the trick too. You’re great for sharing, thank you very much

  26. Great Post !!!
    So many articles on how to start in safe reboot and just a few on how to disable boot in safe mode !!!
    I was on a Windows 2012 R2.

    You saved me a lot of time.

    Thank you so much.

  27. This post helped me out. Thanks alot! Just went into the msconfig and selected the normal startup instead selective startup. Restarted the server and after that the contentiously booting into safemode was disabled.

  28. This also happens on ESX when shutting down a vm. Boot the vm into safemode, run the BCDEDT /DELETEVALUE SAFEBOOT. Then restart with SHUTDOWN /R /T 0 get coffee and have a lot of patience…

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