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Microsoft Windows can be started in a special diagnostic mode known as "safe mode". This mode of operation can be entered automatically by Windows following a serious problem, such as a misbehaving hardware driver causing the operating system to crash. It can also be selected manually by the user at start-up if there are known configuration or driver problems that require attention or that are preventing Windows from starting normally.

Safe mode limits the drivers that are loaded to the minimal set required for Windows to operate. This usually means that most peripherals do not function and that the installed video driver is substituted with a simple VGA driver that is supported by all standard graphics cards. This simple configuration makes it possible for the user to remove or replace faulty drivers and reconfigure registry settings that are corrupt or invalid.

If your application requires access to drivers that are not available in safe mode, you should detect the status of Windows before allowing the user to execute your software. If your application requires network access, you should also determine whether the operating system is in normal mode, safe mode or the special safe mode with networking support.



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