Do not use Windows Installer Cleanup Utility to “clean” your PC. DON’T.


OK, I was just idly browsing along (trying to fix a Windows Installer problem), and I found this article…

http://msmvps.com/blogs/installsite/archive/2009/07/25/don-t-clean-up-your-pc-with-windows-installer-clean-up-utility.aspx

… describing why the utility is NOT to be used for “cleaning up” your PC. It’s 110% correct – I’ve seen too many idiotic, uninformed bloggers posting “cleanup guides” with absolutely destructive advice (like disabling themes, services, etc). This is one of the more rare ones but I want to throw this out there in case there are some think-they’re-geeks out there that use the Installer Cleanup Utility as a “cleanup” tool.

The only thing this utility does to “clean” is to clean in the “what was dirty” sense, to gut a program’s configuration from Windows Installer, not from your computer! It just makes Windows Installer “forget” that a program was ever installed, so that installation issues can be resolved to re-install and cleanly uninstall the related program. It does NOT “clean” your computer of the installed program – hell, it doesn’t even uninstall it in the formal sense. All its files will still remain.

Personally, I use its “msizip G” as part of a cleanup routine, which removes orphaned Installer files – product packages that are located in the WindowsInstaller folder, but not associated with any product that’s installed. Usually from failed Office updates or the like.

Just a public service blog post. =P

  • Microsoft man

    That program is for removing a known bad windows installer, it is not for cleaning up anything in general, you have to know what you are doing when using it, this is why microsoft pulled it from public download, too many noobs erasing all of their windows installers instead of the one problem installer. Nobody read the documentation before using it, noobs.

  • Having used Windows Installer Cleanup Utility myself (to enable the uninstallation of MSIs which wouldn’t uninstall normally), I agree that it works well for it’s intended purpose; I have actually been somewhat annoyed at how difficult it is to find when I do need it. I suppose it could be somewhat destructive under the control of a noob, but then again so is regedit…

    PS: I disable themes and services all the time with no ill effects (rather, I enjoy the resulting performance gain / increase in free memory). Why would you consider such steps ‘destructive’?

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  • It should be call something like “MSI Database record removal utility” something that accurately describes it’s function but also sounds intimidating to end users and superusers.

    Cleanup, is the buzzword that tech savvy users are looking for, so i thing Microsoft did a poor job at naming it.