UPDATED: March 2018

If you have worked on Windows 8 or newer, you will know that Microsoft has removed the F8 boot functionality.  They did this to decrease boot times.  What is odd is that they applied this logic to servers; I would not have.  Regardless the F8 Safe Mode functionality is not truly removed, it is just turned off.

To turn F8 boot on in Server 2012 you need to get to an elevated CMD prompt.  Windows-Server-2012-R2-Setup-Repair-your-computerWindows-Server-2012-R2-Setup-Repair-Your-Computer-Troubleshooting-Command-Prompt If your server is functional that is easy.  If your server won’t boot (hence the need for F8) then you can boot off of a Windows Server install DVD and select REPAIR YOUR COMPUTER option, the Troubleshooting, then Command Prompt.

Once you have a Command Prompt (as an administrator) open enter the following commands which are self explanatory:

  1. bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes
  2. bcdedit /set {bootmgr} timeout 10

Reboot your machine and enjoy pressing F8 and getting back into SAFE MODE or LAST KNOWN GOOD to work out your problem.

This will also work on Windows 8 and Windows 10.


Note that the BCDEDIT commands do NOT work from PowerShell.   They NEED to be run from CMD.EXE :

Thanks to a number of blogs including THIS one.



tburger · October 8, 2020 at 7:52 am

Thanks for this – saved the bacon this morning!

Dom · December 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

SHIFT+F8 will get you into Server 2012’s Advanced Boot Options Menu

You can choose Safe Mode etc. from there

I am spreading the word after spending a day attempting to fix a boot loop by booting to an install DVD and trying and failing to use Command Prompt to run bcdedit

After finally managing to locate the Safe Mode option, the server immediately started up after finishing “configuring updates” at the Windows splash screen.

Hope this works for anyone whose servers are crippled by Windows updates

Milos Peric · February 17, 2019 at 7:51 am

this does work from powrshell.. just use bcdedit /set “{bootmgr}” displaybootmenu yes

Tim · November 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Thanks, saved my day 😀

Heidi Müller · June 12, 2018 at 6:22 am

Guter Mann!

Philip Sobolik · January 11, 2018 at 11:34 am

I ran an elevated command prompt, entered the 2 commands, and rebooted. It’s had ‘Getting Windows ready. Don’t turn off your computer.’ on the screen for 10-15 minutes. Need help.

    Philip Sobolik · January 11, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    It eventually came back to life and was fine. F8 even worked.

Abdul Mohsin · October 4, 2017 at 7:32 am

Thanks a lot, for the great article, it supeberly worked for my VMware virtual machine.

bill villers · July 19, 2017 at 8:22 am

Thanks. That worked for me.

Emmanuel · June 6, 2017 at 3:02 am

I could enter safe mode in windows server 2012r2 but my problem is that my windows server is displaying Preparing Automatic Repair. I need help

    Ian Matthews · July 4, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    This could be an indication of a RAID or disk problem. Because it is a server I would call the hardware manufacturer (Dell, HP…) to see what they say, and failing that I would spend the $300 on a call to Microsoft:

    Contact information and hours of operation
    •To contact Microsoft Customer Service and Support, telephone (800) MICROSOFT (642-7676).
    •In Canada, call (877)568-2495.
    •Microsoft Customer Service hours of operation: •Monday through Sunday, 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM Pacific Time

    You can also contact Microsoft Support by email and chat, visit the following Microsoft Website for details:

soder · January 25, 2017 at 4:06 am

Thank you very much! All the idiots on other blogs keep saying press F8 in HyperV console, if in fact Server 2012 has no safe mode enabled by default. Would send a box of dog shit to MSFT HQ thanking this move… Seriously, servers running factory default disabled recovery mode?? Oh my god, quality has went pretty downhill in Redmond lately.

How to boot in to Safe Mode on Windows Server 2012 R2 – Jamston · October 11, 2016 at 6:08 am

[…] Original article can be found here […]

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