How to Fix: Install Software in Safe Mode (Windows 10)

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Cliff H. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thanks for your excellent article on how to boot Windows 10 using the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter Driver. I am also having problems with my system freezing on me randomly, but have not been able to narrow down the culprit (nor do I have a system stable enough to do more testing!). I have managed to boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking and the system is stable, but I can't install any programs because the Windows installer service isn't running. Do you know how to make it so I can install software in Safe Mode using Windows 10? "

My response:

For those not familiar, it is possible to boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode with networking using the bcdedit command and msconfig. I have an article on that already which you can refer to here. If the system is locking up constantly (and randomly), this will be difficult to do and may require a few tries before it actually sticks.

How to Fix: Install Software in Safe Mode (Windows 10)

Once you are in Windows 10 safe mode you will need to modify the Windows Registry and then start the Windows Installer Service.

To do so:

  1. In safe mode: click Start, then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for "CMD.EXE" or "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Run as Administrator".
  2. Next, highlight the text below using your mouse:

    rem enable windows installer in safe mode
    REG ADD "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal\MSIServer" /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D "Service"
    rem enable windows installer in safe mode with networking
    REG ADD "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Network\MSIServer" /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D "Service"
    net start msiserver
    echo this is a dummy line
  3. Right click over top of the above highlighted text, then select "Copy". Now, go to the middle of the command prompt you opened in Step #1 and right click, then select "Paste". The text you copied in Step #2 should now be output to the command line.
  4. Try installing a program - it should work.

The steps above work for Safe Mode without networking and Safe Mode with networking.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If your computer is locking up and you need help trying to figure out what the problem might be, I can help using my remote desktop support service. In cases like this it would be best if you had a second PC that I can connect to in order to provide instruction, especially if the system is locking up constantly (even in Safe Mode). Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.9 (7 votes)


rohnski's picture

Why do you need the reg hack? AFIK you can do the same thing in a little less intimidating way (I find that reg hacks tend to scare people who are asking this type of question):

In start menu, search for services.msc
right click on it
select "Run as Admin"
in the Services dialog, find "Windows Installer Service"
Right click on it
Select "Start"