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CleanHead Have you ever tried to install a program only to get an error message that another installation or un-installation is pending?

Maybe you have seen unknown errors during installs or just crap lying around from previous uninstalls? Maybe an installation did not complete and now you can not uninstall or re-install it? How do you deal with these situations?

Well Microsoft has released a tool aimed at making your life easier. This 351KB  file will help you clean out all of these problems.

You do have to install the application. After the usual next, next, next, finish you will be ready to use the tool. When you run it for the first time you will see this:



You can browse through the list of what Windows thinks is installed. Most of the entries looked correct to me. Then I spotted one:


Twingly Screensaver which I installed a while back and shortly thereafter un-installed was still hanging out with my legit programs. This seems like a good test and I selected the item and hit Remove. I quickly got a warning message popping up on my screen:


It says: Warning – All products selected will be removed from the Windows Installer database. In order for the products to work properly you must individually re-install all products selected. Selected OK to continue  removing product, Cancel to abort.

I was sure of what I was doing so I hit OK. A DOS box popped up and disappeared quickly but I managed to grab a screen shot of some of the commands scrolling by as you can see here:


It runs through the registry using command line options to search and remove registry items associated with your application and then it grabs and deletes shared dll’s and other files. It worked quite nicely.

We have featured some other uninstallation / clean up tools in the past.   Mac users can see Jeffry’s post here 3 Free Uninstallers to Clean Up Obsolete Files [Mac] 3 Free Uninstallers to Clean Up Obsolete Files [Mac] Read More and we also have a couple of other Windows alternatives, one from Jimmy Revo Uninstaller Will Hunt Down Your Bloatware Revo Uninstaller Will Hunt Down Your Bloatware Read More and another from Stefan How To Uninstall Applications Efficiently And Remove Obsolete Files How To Uninstall Applications Efficiently And Remove Obsolete Files Read More .

Do you have a favorite all in one clean up utility that does the dirty work for you? If you do please let us know in the comments!

  1. S93Coder
    August 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Don't use this tool on Vista 64 Enterprise. The Windows Installer Clean Up Utility resets the owner on the ..S-1-5-18\Components keys that represent shared components to Administrators and REMOVES System from the key ACLs and ownership. This breaks functionality for applications like Symantec AntiVirus.

  2. ShadowWolf
    July 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    This has to be some of the worst advice you could give. If an installation is broken on the machine, this utility won't clean it up. Instead, it just removes the MSI meta-data about the installation and leaves you in a broken state. Unless you know for a fact ( i.e. contacted the company in question ) that this tool will work: do not use it.

    This tool isn't user-friendly because it wasn't written for average users. It was written for installation developers and has been mutated and promoted enough that people who shouldn't use it are, well, using it. And the MSDN KB article doesn't really describe accurately how this tool could really mess things up.

  3. Hannes
    July 25, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Thanks a million for this hint.
    Had the last two days trouble with my space navigator from 3d-connexion getting it work in SolidWorks2009 this tool did a great job which no other previously mentioned tool could get done!

    Keep up with your great work at MUO

  4. noemis
    July 25, 2009 at 5:33 am

    I install on Vista and there isn't shorcut, there isn't nothing. I don't know how to start program. This is not user friendly

  5. Chris
    July 25, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Does this work on Vista?

  6. Psyfon
    July 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I second that comment. Revouninstaller and CCleaner does the job and very well I might add.

  7. Dave G.
    July 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Revo Uninstaller and CCLeaner work best for me though Revo has been CRUSHING my machine when uninstalling lately.

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