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How do I repair a broken Windows Installer?

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Old 07-03-2008
Posts: n/a
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.

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Old 07-03-2008
Mark L. Ferguson
Posts: n/a
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:
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Old 07-03-2008
Cameron Snyder
Posts: n/a
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.
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Old 07-03-2008
Posts: n/a
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
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Old 07-03-2008
Darrell Gorter[MSFT]
Posts: n/a
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]
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Old 07-03-2008
Posts: n/a
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?
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Old 07-03-2008
Posts: n/a
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.
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Old 07-03-2008
Posts: n/a
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

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Old 07-03-2008
Posts: n/a
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.
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Old 14-05-2009
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1
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
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
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Old 15-05-2009
Chad Harris
Posts: n/a
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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