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Thread: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

  1. #1
    chi1753 Guest

    How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    Several months after a fresh install of Windows Vista x86 Home Premium,
    afterwards updated to SP1, Windows Installer stopped working. On trying to
    install anything requiring it, I get the error message "The Windows Installer
    Service could not be accessed. This can occur if the Windows Installer is not
    correctly installed. Contact your support personnel for assistance". The
    latest Windows Update available (KB940510) also fails immediately. I have no
    system restore point from before this happened. Trying to work around the
    problem, I installed the Windows Installer 4.5 Beta. That seemed to install
    correctly, but running msiexec /? still shows the version number 4.00.6001.0
    even after rebooting, and the Windows Installer still fails to work. No
    problem relating to this is listed in Problem Reports and Solutions. Nothing
    in the troubleshooter helps.

    In services.msc, the Windows Installer Service is set to Manual startup.
    When I click "Start" it starts then stops automatically.

    msiexec.exe, msi.dll and msihnd.dll are all properly placed in
    .. I cannot rename them or alter their permissions.

    Running msiexec /unreg or msiexec /unregister, followed by msiexec
    /regserver, doesn't help.

    Running sc.exe delete "MSIServer", followed by sc.exe create "MSIServer"
    binPath= "C:\WINDOWS\system32\msiexec.exe /V" DisplayName= "Windows
    Installer", doesn't help.

    What can I do, please, short of reinstalling from scratch? I really, really
    don't want to have to do that. Last time I did it, it took two days to get
    the computer back into shape. For a start, this PC hangs multiple times
    during the vista installation process.

  2. #2
    Mark L. Ferguson Guest

    Re: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    After having to do a complete reinstall, you didn't look into a complete
    backup. You have no restore points, and you don't mention any of the
    'recovery' options your system might have. (You know what those are. )
    Someone that rough on a system has to consider the option of a second hard
    drive (or burner and cd's) that you could use in Vista Business and + to do
    such a 'complete PC system backup' (or a 'mirror' app like Acronis)
    File corruption is about the only thing that might prevent you from
    repairing the Installer like that. Failure of the Beta install is an
    indication something is at work to prevent your system from doing that. You
    probably have some form of malware in there. My first try would be the
    update site for the "Malicious Software Removal Tool."
    There is the 'clean up tool' for the installer that might do something to
    take out the beta.
    290301 - Description of the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility:;en-us;290301

  3. #3
    Cameron Snyder Guest

    Re: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    Try the Installer clean up utility you can download from MS. Just a shot in
    the dark like your installer may be hung up on something it tried to
    install. Then when you get to the last resort instead of a reinstall from
    scratch, try a repair install first.

  4. #4
    chi1753 Guest
    Thanks for your reply.
    The Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, Windows Defender and AVG
    Antivirus all find the system free of malware. I can remove the 4.5 beta via
    Installed Updates quite easily, though it's not the beta that's causing the
    problem. (I used it because there is no 4.0 redistributable available*). The
    Windows Installer CleanUp needs a working Windows Installer to install, so
    it's not available to me.
    As you know, Home Premium cannot perform a full backup*. I wasn't "rough on
    [the] system" until the system was broken by a bug in Vista*, for which MS
    provides no solution in the Knowledgebase even though others have reported
    the same problem before*. Even then I was only rough on a portion of it which
    was in a useless state anyway. I have a number of restore points, but as I
    wrote, they all come from after Windows Installer must have broken.
    Unfortunately, no little messagebox comes up at this point telling "you have
    hit an irrepairable bug, please revert to your last restore point now". Even
    if I try to reinstall Windows and all programs from scratch, the same
    programs and Windows Updates as previously installed are very likely to
    create the same problem. Do I have to create a restore point after installing
    each program and Windows Update, then test an MSI-based installer, then
    revert when it fails?

    Thanks Cameron.
    Unfortunately, the Installer CleanUp Utility itself needs a working Windows

  5. #5
    Darrell Gorter[MSFT] Guest

    RE: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    Can you go into the registry and export the following Registry value
    Export it as as text file.
    Then send it to me.
    Remove the online from the listed email name
    Darrell Gorter[MSFT]

  6. #6
    SG Guest
    Below is the Registry setting that controls the Windows Installer Service.
    Have a look in your Registry and see if your dword is set to 2.
    The setting of 2 tells the system it starts Automatic and is what it should

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


    Windows Installer
    Windows Vista Service Details
    Description: MSI Installer package support

    Service Description:
    Installs, repairs, and removes software according to instructions contained
    in .msi files.
    Consequences of Stopping:
    All services listed in 'Required For' will be unable to function
    Depends on:
    DCOM Server Process Launcher, Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

    Thanks; sadly it still doesn't work when set to Automatic startup

    Did you reboot your system? The registry isn't updated until you do, sorry I
    missed that in my previous post. Also if you select Start the Service does
    it work then?

  7. #7
    chi1753 Guest

    Re: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    Thanks for checking; yes, I rebooted. When I start the Windows Installer
    service in services.msc I get the message "The Windows Installer Service
    started and then stopped. Some services stop automatically if they are not in
    use by other services or programs." I get the same result when it's set to
    start manually; as far as I know, that's its normal behaviour.

  8. #8
    SG Guest

    Re: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    Try method one is this KB Article, if no go then try method two.
    Method 1: Reregister the Windows Installer
    Method 2: Reinstall the Windows Installer

  9. #9
    chi1753 Guest
    I've tried both of these with no luck (using a Linux live CD to add the .old
    extension to msi.dll, msiexec.exe and msihnd.dll, and the Windows Installer
    4.5 beta in place of the unavailable 4.0). Oddly, when I install the Windows
    Installer 4.5 beta after adding the .old extensions, no new msi.dll,
    msiexec.exe or msihnd.dll is added to C:\Windows\System32. I've tried
    decompiling the .cab files in the 4.5 beta .msu in order to get at these
    files, but inside are just a set of files with numbers for filenames

    WOW, well I don't know what else to tell you. I'll keep looking and if
    something comes up I'll post back.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    Hi chi1753:

    Well I'm many hours into the exact same problem that you experienced back in June last year and so far I have not found a solution. I'm currently trying to do a vista repair from the original DVD.

    I'd be grateful if you could let me know how you solved the problem.

    My details are below
    Kind regards
    Dell Inspiron 1720, Intel Core 2 Duo T7700, 2.4 GHz, 800MHz, 4M L2 Cache
    4GB, DDR2 RAM
    256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600
    Vista Ultimate 32 Bit, SP1
    Norton Internet Security 2009
    All Updates are / were current
    VSC Shadow copy doesn’t work - has disappeared
    System Restore is not accessible - doesn’t work, although it says it is running
    Windows Installer doesn't work - hangs at the last moment of installation
    Diskeeper defrag software can't access c: drive or Shadow copy that used to be there
    Possible causes and recently added:
    Vista Service Pack 1
    Windows Explorer 8
    Upgrade of Norton Internet Security 2007 to 2009 (Since removed Norton entirely using Norton Removal Tool)
    The symptom is, my feeling is, that something is blocking access - some setting I haven't fathomed yet
    Because System Restore is not accessible I can't go back to an earlier time
    Because Windows Installer doesn’t work I cant reinstall it or the newer V4.5

  11. #11
    Chad Harris Guest

    Re: How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

    To whomever the OP is that I don't see here:

    If you're getting this error: (the steps in this KB work fine in Vista or
    Win 7)
    "The Windows Installer Service Could Not Be Accessed" error

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