I wanted to share an interesting problem that came up. You see, I had to restore safe mode to my computer.

Shortly after my nostalgia PC was built, I ran into a problem where I had to boot Windows 2000 in safe mode. Problem was, when I rebooted the PC, the option for safe mode was not available, nor did the keyboard shortcuts work. I used a legitimate, licensed version of Windows 2000.

The most logical assumption is I caught some form of malware or virus. However, I only had this box online long enough to grab updates. Luckily, a fellow by name of Didier Stevens documented an easy way to restore Safe Mode with a .REG file.

The SafeBoot registry key contains a list of references to devices, drivers and services that have to be started when booting into Safe Mode. You can find these keys under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot. You can also boot into Safe Mode with or without networking (Minimal or Network). Disabling a service in Safe Mode is as easy as deleting the corresponding subkey.

Grab the zip file from the link above. There are 2 registry export files in it. Simply double click on them or use the right click, Merge method. These keys contain the SafeBoot keys from a clean Windows XP SP2 install and a clean Windows 2000 SP4 Professional install.

The Windows XP key could technically be used on a Windows 2003 system, however, there are slight differences. Use it to repair your PC when the SafeBoot keys have been deleted and System Restore doesn’t help.

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