How to Enable the F8 key in Server 2016/2019 if Windows Fails to Start.

Last updated on October 12th, 2020

In this tutorial you 'll find instructions on how to enable the F8 key on Windows Server 2012, 2016 or 2019, in order to access the 'Advanced Boot Options menu' (Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, etc.), if your server fails to start normally.


As you probably know in Windows Server 2012, 2016 and 2019, the F8 key is enabled by default in order to access the Advanced Boot Options menu when needed. But, if Windows does not function properly and especially if Windows is unable to boot normally, the F8 key does not work.

How to Turn On the F8 Boot Menu if Server 2012/2016/2019 Fails to Start.*

* Note: If you can boot to Windows, then you don't need to apply these steps, because the F8 key is already enabled. So, test it, and only if it doesn't work, open an elevated command prompt and give the two (2) commands mentioned below from Windows.

1. Boot the Server from a Windows Installation Media (DVD or USB).

2. At the Windows Setup screen press SHIFT + F10 to access command prompt, or choose Next –> Repair your computer –> Troubleshoot –> Advanced Options –> Command Prompt.


SHIFT + F10 to Access Command Prompt


3. In command prompt, type the following commands in order:

  • bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes
  • bcdedit /set {bootmgr} timeout 10

How to Enable the F8 key in Server 2016/2019 if Windows Fails to Start.


4. Close all windows and reboot the server.
5. After reboot, press the F8 key at the Windows Boot Manager screen to access the Advanced Boot Options menu.

Turn On F8 in Windows Server 2012/2016/2019


That's it! Let me know if this guide has helped you by leaving your comment about your experience. Please like and share this guide to help others.

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