Troubleshooting software removal problems using MSI files

Many software products use the MSI files to install the program files and configure their settings. (MSI stands for MicroSoft Installer, which was later renamed to Windows Installer, but the MSI name stuck.) This technology is used by many, many software products, including our own Encryptability and USBCrypt. It usually works very well, except when it does not, when some unexpected condition occurs in the middle of an installation, and it breaks things, and leave the software in some indeterminate state, not quite installed, but also not quite removed, and the usual methods of dealing with the problem don’t go anywhere.

If you find yourself in such a situation, the best course of action is to try to remove the broken pieces of the software as much as possible, and start from scratch. The exact steps to achieve that depend greatly on the software product that fails to install, and the kind of the problem that caused it to fail in the first place, but generally the first thing to try is to use the troubleshooting tool offered by Microsoft:

Fix problems that block programs from being installed or removed

(If the link above does not work, try this one. ).

To use the tool, click on the link above and choose to run the program. You should see a screen similar to the following:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting tool

Press Next, and on the following screen select the Uninstalling option:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting uninstalling

It should display a list of the programs that were using the MSI technology; select the program you are having a trouble with (in our example, USBCrypt or Encryptability) and press Next:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting program

It should ask you once again to confirm which program you want to try to uninstall:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting confirm uninstall

Press Yes, try uninstall and after a few seconds it should display a screen similar to the following:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting uninstall problem fixed

It means the problem has been fixed. With other programs this would probably be the end of this step of the troubleshooting. Now you would probably want to try to install the previously failed program again, and if it fails again, contact the appropriate software company for more help.

If you are using this information to troubleshoot our software Encryptability and/or USBCrypt, there are a few more steps to do.

First, if you had both Encryptability and USBCrypt installed, you need to remove both of them (because they share the same encryption driver), even if you had a problem with only one package. To do that, repeat the same steps described above: click on the link to run the Microsoft troubleshooting tool, and follow the same steps, but this time select the other product, Encryptability or USBCrypt:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting program

After both Encryptability and USBCrypt have been removed using the tool above, we also need to uninstall the encryption driver that these two products share. Before you do that though, run Registry Editor (RegEdit.exe) and look for the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ WinAbility Encryption Driver Clients

(Please be very careful when using the Registry Editor! Do not change or delete anything there unless you know what you are doing. If you are not comfortable with it, ask a more knowledgeable fried or a colleague to help with it.)

If the WinAbility Encryption Driver Clients key does not exist, it’s fine, close Registry Editor and continue. If this key does exist, rename it to some thing else, by right-clicking on the key, and choosing Rename from the menu. Give it a different name, for example WinAbility Encryption Driver Clients – old. Close Registry Editor when done.

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting uninstall driver

Now run the Microsoft troubleshooting tool once again and this time choose to uninstall WinAbility Encryption Driver:

Microsoft MSI troubleshooting uninstall driver

Continue with the troubleshooting tool as before until it’s finished. Now you may want to run the Microsoft troubleshooter one final time and make sure that none of the three products of ours are listed there (Encryptability, USBCrypt, or WinAbility Encryption Driver).

Now we should be done using the troubleshooting tool. Before trying to reinstall the software though, one last step to do: run File Explorer, navigate to the folder C:\Program Files and look for the subfolders there named after each of the three programs we are dealing with, Encryptability, USBCrypt, or WinAbility Encryption Driver. If any of such subfolders exists, rename them by appending -old to their names. That is, rename the USBCrypt subfolder to USBCrypt-old, Encryptability to Encryptability-old, and WinAbility Encryption Driver.1.2.3.4 to WinAbility Encryption Driver.1.2.3.4-old (the actual version numbers would be different of course.) If there are folders named USBCrypt-backup and Encryptability-backup, rename them as well by appending -old to their names, too.

At this point the possible problems with the MSI installations should be fixed and the remnants of the failed installs moved out of the way.

Restart the computer (don’t skip this!) by pressing the Start button and choosing Power – Restart from the menu, then download fresh copies of Encryptability and/or USBCrypt, and run the setup file(s) to install the software again. If the previous troubleshooting steps has been completed successfully, the installations should finish successfully this time.

What about all those -old subfolders you had renamed with File Explorer you might be asking? After the products have been installed successfully, the -old subfolders are no longer needed, you may want to delete them with File Explorer.

Happy computing!

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