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Windows XP Tips: Install/Uninstall Applications in Safe Mode

When you install any software, if the installation is not proper or because of some other reasons sometimes, Window refuses to boot after restart. Windows can be booted in safe mode in such circumstances, but the installer will not work. When yo reboot in safe mode, you need to create a registry entry for Windows installer to work for install.

NB: If you use the registry editor incorrectly, you might cause serious problems that might require you to reinstall your operating system. Use the registry editor at your own risk. Keep a backup of registry before editing.

To create a Registry entry, open command prompt ( Run->Cmd). Type the following command in the Window- REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal\MSIServer/VE/TREG_SZ/F/D %Service%

You can also create a entry from registry editor.

Next start the Windows Installer Service by typing net start msiserver. Once this is done, you will be able to install/uninstall applications in safe mode.

About Nirmal

Nirmal is a Technology Blogger and a Microsoft MVP in Windows. He can be contacted at nirmal@nirmaltv.com. You can find Nirmal on , and .


  1. I am stuck in “Safe Mode!!! I am running Windows Microsoft Victa Ultimate.
    I don’t know how I got into Safe Mode since I was sending an e-mail and all of a sudden there it was, Safe Mode!”

    I would really appreciate some help.

    Bob Watson
    Dillard, Ga. 30537

  2. @Robert,
    Next time you boot the system, you can switch back to normal mode.

  3. Ok, so im 14 years old and need help. Im sick of not having any space what so ever and im TRYING to switch from Windows Vista Home Premium to XP. I’ll go into safe mode then ill put in the disc and ill get the options of “Installing XP, Perform Additional Tasks, and Check System Compatibility.” It wont let me do the installing choice for reasons unknown. When i do system compatibility it wont see if my SYSTEM is COMPATIBLE. When i shut my laptop off (It is a Inspiron 1521) and turn it back on, it has the graphics of a 98′ broken down computer, everything pixalated. But then it has the choice of “Installing XP.” When I try that, it says my system has a newer version of Vista or whatever. Please contact me at my e-mail (jimmy.ralph@yahoo.com) and please help me resolve this issue. Thank you.

  4. When I do this, (specifically, Win XP Home in Safe Mode with Networking) I get the error: Too Many Command Line Parameters. I can easily browse to where I want the key and add it in Regedit, but am not sure what to do after that. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. I got the too many parameters error as well. Here’s the work around:

    Launch RegEdit (start > run > regedit)
    Navigate to the key HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal\
    Right click on the Minimal key in the left hand side, choose New > Key then name it MSIService
    In right hand frame, double click on the default key, and give it the value Service
    Close RegEdit
    Start the service

    Good luck,

  6. Error after going to start>run>cmd:
    net start msiserver
    Can not start in safe mode

  7. Hi,
    The error concerning “Too Many Command Line Parameters” is the result of missing space characters between the parameters.

    … /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D %Service%

  8. Hi,
    This article fails to mention that there are two kind of safe mode in the registry: Network and Minimal.


  9. You blog post is exactly what I think I need because my computer was infected by a virus. However, I’m getting “Error: Registry editing has been disabled by your administrator”, the problem being is I am the administrator and I have only one user(me) and there is no password. I am using Vista Ultimate, which might explain some not needed safety feature that is not needed. My question is how do I enable registry edit?

    Thanks so much, Jon

  10. To Jon Thompson>use method 2 on this site >http://www.winhelponline.com/articles/156/1/Error-Registry-editing-has-been-disabled-by-your-administrator-when-you-open-the-Registry-Editor-in-Windows-Vista.html
    im currently in the same situation as you and i’ve had to do this still in safe mode though 🙁

  11. ok i need help here im stuck with the safe mode thingy my computer is too slow it shouldnt be it has a gig of RAM and well its in pretty good shape whenever i try to use the normal or standard mode or whatever you call it it wont start it will either freeze on the welcome screen or after it right after the desktop appears
    i cant install or uninstall anything!! 🙁

  12. In the post of “Sam Cranford”, there is a little error in part: “then name it MSIService”. The correct is name to “MSIServer”. If you tape the msiservice and try to start the service using “net start msiserver” the windows will return the error 1084 “the service cannot be started in the safe mode”. if you put the msiserver and try to start the windows installer will start sucessfully.

  13. Thanks for the comments Aaron/Sam ! worked for me.

  14. my computer is Windows XP and I’m trying to uninstall my security CA but it failed to uninstalled due to safe mode, my question is how to remove my computer in safe mode… email me at melbsmg04@hotmail.com

  15. I recently got a new dell inspiron laptop but when i registered McAfee a series of trojans and malware come up. First i had winsoftbue then pcenter and i can only run ma laptop in safe mode because of the bluescreen. How can get rid of the viruses but keep files like Itunes without resetting my laptop. Please help.



  16. great advice for those suffering at the hands of a virus which has messed up the file registry on their computer, saves times having to re-install!

  17. Thanks!

    Adding a “MSIServer” key with default value “Service” in the registry (via regedit) and then “net start msiserver” on the command line fixed it for me!

  18. Worked for me right after I renamed the key MSIServer.

  19. Thx Ashutosh!!! Adding this value via RegEdit fixed the problem!!!

  20. Hi my problem here is i have Windows XP SP3 installed and recently installed an Windows XP SP2 64 bit OS, which was installed currectly but then loads up good in Safe Mode, but in normal mode it shows nothing.

    The usual login logo shows up but after that a blnk screen comes up with two White Dots at the Top.

    Could you please help me out on this! Thanks in advance.

    Soumen Mondal.

  21. So . . . I’ve been putting in the code and everything , yet it always response is :
    ERROR: Invalid Syntax.
    Type “REG ADD/?” for usage.

    By The Way , i’m on Vista Ultimate.

  22. I had to reboot into Safe mode after applying this. Then it worked fine.

  23. Whenever i m trying 2 instal a new version of windows like xp 2010.In the middle of installation i used 2 get a blue error screen stating that installation has being shut down to prevent some serious error to system..If u want 2 instal new drivers instal in safe mode…But my problm is that i m not getting hw 2 get into safe mode after rebooting the system

  24. my computer recently stopped working correctly in normal mode, it however is windows seven so probably not xp, but i am probably having the same problem and it might have viruses and need windows reinstalling but i dont have windows cds because the tech guys at futureshop installed it so will i have to take it in to them, and will they come up with the same solution?? thanks.

  25. I ran my usual updates over night, and upon booting up, I got blue screened.. I still am.. (Currently running safemode with internet capabilities). My blue screen doesn’t stay up long enough to see where the error may appear, no matter how many times I disable the auto-restart. I’m running windows Vista, and I have tried all of the suggestions above.. Adding the key to the regedit. Running the installer in the command line. No matter what I do, even fixing the spelling, nothing helps. I just want to be able to install my stupid driver updating program to see if that helps with the blue screen. Someone help. I’m getting thoroughly pissed.

  26. Just tried this and it failed, however I was trying to use safemode with networking.

    Adding the same registry entry: MSIServer
    And setting it’s Default to: Service
    To: Networking
    As per the above: Minimal

    Also allows your safemode with networking access to the installer service via: net start msiserver

    Hope this helps

  27. I’ve run the reg command listed above and when I try net start msiserver I receive a message “unable to start Windows Installer in Safe Mode”, even after I reboot.

    I’ve added the key
    and given it a default value of Service, and I get the same thing, even if I name it %Service%.

    This is on Windows 7 Ultimate


    Next start the Windows Installer Service by typing net start msiserver. Once this is done, you will be able to install/uninstall applications in safe mode.

    IT SAYS System error 1084 has occured.
    This service cannot be started in safe mode

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