Clean up your PC with Windows Installer Clean Up Utility

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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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 and we also have a couple of other Windows alternatives, one from Jimmy and another from Stefan.

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!

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Comments (7)
  • S93Coder

    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.

  • ShadowWolf

    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.

  • Hannes

    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

  • noemis

    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

  • Chris

    Does this work on Vista?

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.