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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Undo a Bad Software Install: The Simple Way

Vista has been a bit quirky with some older programs, which battle with Vista during the installation process because they were not written to cope with Vista's new security features. Even if a program does successfully install, it may not work as you'd hope. Older applications can bung your Vista system like a four-year-old with access to a toilet paper mega pack.

When this happens, the uninstaller probably won't work, and you'll have to manually remove the application. That can be terrible news on a Saturday morning because it can mean hours of battling with your system (instead of something fun, like shopping for chocolate-filled snacks).

Before we roll through that onerous process, try the Last Known Good Configuration approach or a Safe mode uninstallation. I talk about these techniques next.

If they don't work, I'll show you how to do a manual software uninstall. Lucky you.

Last Known Good Configuration

One of the handy features of Windows Vista that was passed on from Windows XP is the Last Known Good Configuration fix.

It's a startup option that uses the last set of system settings that started up Windows without a hitch. Each time Vista is shut down, it saves system settings to the Registry. This process is really handy if new software damages Windows or if a new driver (sometimes the driver for your video card can cause big problems) hangs the system on startup.

Here's how to invoke the LKGC:

  1. Shut down your computer and then power it back on.
  2. When you see the lights on your keyboard flash, start tapping the F8 key repeatedly: Tap tap tap tap tap tap. Then you'll see the Advanced Boot Menu Options screen.
  3. Repeat the F8 trick until you get into the Advanced Boot Menu Options screen.
  4. Once there, use the up/down arrow keys to highlight the entry entitled Last Known Good Configuration (Advanced) (see Figure 9.7) and press Enter.
    Figure 9.7

    Figure 9.7 Use the Last Known Good Configuration to restore Windows to working order when a software install goes bad.

This will get you back into the system so that you can uninstall the offending program or driver that created the problems.

Safe Mode: Water Wings for Windows

If Vista is still not loading or functioning properly, Safe mode is the next step. It's a diagnostic mode that lets Windows load in a raw state with only a bare a minimum of applications and drivers.

Here's how to use it:

  1. Shut down your computer and power it back on.
  2. After you see the lights on your keyboard flash, start pressing the F8 key repeatedly until you see the Advanced Boot Menu Options screen.
  3. Use the cursor keys to navigate to Safe mode and press Enter. After some processing, Vista loads in Safe mode.
  4. Log in with an administrator account or the account you created when you first installed Vista or when you set up your computer.
  5. When the desktop comes up, it appears in a low resolution mode in which the icons and graphics are plain and chunky.

When you're in Safe mode (see Figure 9.8), you can attempt to repair or uninstall the problematic program that triggered the trouble. There are two ways to get to the uninstall wizard, as follows:

Quick method:

  1. Click the Windows button, type appwiz.cpl in the Search box, and press Enter.
  2. This launches the Uninstall or Change a Program window.

Click method:

  1. Click the Windows button, Control Panel, Programs, Programs and Features.
  2. The Uninstall or Change a Program window opens.
Figure 9.8

Figure 9.8 Safe mode is a diagnostic state you can put Vista into so that you can troubleshoot.

In the Uninstall or Change a Program window, follow these steps:

  1. Locate in the list the program that is causing you grief and click it to highlight it.
  2. Right-click to uninstall, change, or repair—one or more of these options may be available.
  3. Your first choice should be to uninstall the program.
  4. Let the uninstaller go through its paces and then restart your computer and boot normally back into Vista.

With the application removed, it should now be easy to boot into Vista normally.

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