Windows Safe Mode: Catch-22

I’m really sick and tired of looking online to find things like: “how to boot into Safe Mode with Windows 10” or “What model Surface Pro do I have” only to have the instructions begin with the assumption that the deviceĀ is actually working.

As an IT repair guy, I work on hundreds of different computers a year. Many of them come to me because they’re not working. They don’t turn on. They are in some startup loop. They get stuck for a long time during startup. Whatever.

When I search for information, almost all of the instructions assume that I have access to a working Windows device, so the instructions start with “Click the Start menu. Select Settings.” Blah, blah, blah. This includes trying to boot in Safe Mode.

For over 15 years, theĀ reason for Safe Mode existing was to diagnose a Windows installation that was, in one way or another, faulty. But, I think starting with Windows 8, the way to access Safe Mode is to select it from a working, accessible Windows session before rebooting Windows. So, Catch-22. This is why I have said before that Microsoft dose really stupid things.

Yes, there are strange, convoluted, inconsistent ways to help coerce Windows into letting you access Safe Mode, but they do not work 100% of the time. I’m sure that once you “figure it out” for a particular device, it’s easy for all subsequent times, but I’ve been pressing on/off, holding power/volume and waiting for several hours yesterday and again several today on this Surface Pro. Why isn’t the procedure for “Force Power Off” simply: Hold the power button down for 10 seconds? Or 20. Or 30. But something simple and easy to guess.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike Windows?