How to do clean boot on Windows

A clean boot allows you to troubleshoot and find conflicts with apps and drivers, and here's how to do it on Windows.

Windows 11 clean boot
Windows 11 clean boot
  • To clean boot on Windows 11 (or 10), open “MSConfig,” click the “Services” tab, check the “Hide all Microsoft services” option, and click the “Disable all” button. Then open “Task Manager,” click the “Startup” tab, disable all the apps, and restart the computer.

UPDATED 1/3/2024: On Windows 11 (and 10), a clean boot refers to the process of starting the system with apps, services, and drivers disabled during startup. When you have to troubleshoot a problem, a “clean boot” will help you eliminate software conflicts, usually during updates or software installations or when running a particular app.

Typically, system utilities, antivirus, and other types of applications may include processes that can conflict with the normal operation of the operating system, such as Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), unexpected freezes, performance issues, and more.

In this guide, I will teach you the steps to perform a clean boot on Windows 11 (and 10) to help you troubleshoot and determine conflicts in your setup.

Perform clean boot on Windows

To perform a clean boot of Windows 11 (or 10) to troubleshoot problems, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows.

  2. Search for msconfig and click the top result to open the System Configuration app.

  3. Click the Services tab.

  4. Check the “Hide all Microsoft services” option.

  5. Click the Disable all button.

    System Configuration

  6. Click the Startup tab.

  7. Click the “Open Task Manager” option.

  8. Click the Startup tab.

  9. Select each item and click the Disable button.

    Disable startup apps

  10. Close Task Manager.

  11. Restart the computer.

Once you complete the steps, if the problem is no longer an issue, you will have an idea of where to start looking to continue troubleshooting and find a permanent solution for the problem.

As part of the troubleshooting process, after starting the device with a clean boot, you should try to apply updates that were previously failing to install. You can also try to install or uninstall applications, and you can try to launch the application that wasn’t starting before.

Exit clean boot on Windows

To exist clean boot and boot normally on Windows 11 (or 10), use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for msconfig and click the top result to open the System Configuration app.

  3. Click the General tab,

  4. Select the Normal startup option.

    Windows 11 normal startup

  5. Click the Services tab.

  6. Check the “Hide all Microsoft services” option.

  7. Click the Enable all button.

  8. Click the Startup tab.

  9. Click the “Open Task Manager” option.

  10. Click the Startup tab.

  11. Select each item and click the Enable button.

    Enable startup apps

  12. Close Task Manager.

  13. Restart the computer.

When using this process, it’s important to distinguish that “Windows Clean boot” is not the same as “Safe Mode.” On Safe Mode, the system starts with a minimal set of drivers and services, and it’ll continue to start third-party drivers and programs during boot.

On the other hand, a clean boot starts the system normally but disables third-party applications, services, and drivers as the computer starts to troubleshoot and resolve conflicts on Windows with apps, services, and drivers.

If using a clean boot doesn’t help, you should try booting Windows 11 in Safe Mode to continue troubleshooting the problem. (You can use these instructions to boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10.)

Update January 3, 2024: These instructions have been updated to ensure accuracy and reflect that the same steps apply to Windows 10.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].