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How to Fix Problems When Windows Installer or Uninstaller Doesn’t Work

It isn’t uncommon for something to go wrong when installing, uninstalling, or updating a program on a Windows system. For example, you might get an error message like one of the following:

  • The Windows Installer Service could not be accessed.
  • Windows Installer Service couldn’t be started.
  • Could not start the Windows Installer service on Local Computer. Error 5: Access is denied.

This happens often enough that Microsoft provides a special troubleshooter for fixing this sort of problem. The Fixit can be run at this Microsoft page. The screenshot below shows the Fixit. If you prefer to try to solve a problem yourself, Microsoft also gives instructions for a manual procedure. 

Microsoft Fixit for installer problems

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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by BkWdsDrftr on 3. February 2014 - 18:42  (114218)

Trying to install Steady State on a XP machine for a websurfer build. Couldn't get the Windows Installer to run, tried looking for 3rd party msi installers and while on the UBCD4WIN page saw a link to a freeware list. Thought I'd search the homepage for 'msi' 'installer' to see what comes up, got to this page. Very nice, this helped - Somehow I had the service turned off! I would never have thought to look at that setting. I was about to give up on my carefully hoarded install file and purchase [edit]. You just saved me $45, thanks guys!

by irena.alba on 30. October 2013 - 1:14  (111876)

none of this helps

by marko123 on 8. March 2013 - 19:29  (106056)

this id not wrking

by v.laurie on 8. March 2013 - 19:38  (106058)

Do you mean the link isn't working? I just tried it and it worked fine.

by JF (not verified) on 15. September 2012 - 7:26  (99286)

On my Windows 7, 64 bit computer the link says something like (translated from my local language):

Important! The repair tool for Windows Installer (MSICUU2.exe) which was previously referred to here, has been removed. Even though the repair tool for Windows Installer solved some installation problems, it also sometimes damaged other components installed on the computer. Therefore the tool has been removed from the Microsoft Download Center.
The repair tool Install or remove programs replaces this tool.
Here there is a link to THIS:

(could replace my local language in this case with the English - it says specifically that it is for 64 bit computers).

by v.laurie on 15. September 2012 - 13:19  (99300)

The old tool you refer to is not the Fixit referred to in the tip.

by Hobo on 14. September 2012 - 15:56  (99262)

Midnight Cowboy,

I tried your first link no good.

Tried second link, on that site option one no good did not work.

Option two--- I thought I was dreaming ---

After weeks of being so frustrated and just about to format c: then re install everything. I take my hat of and thank you for this excellent tip.

Everything is going well ;-)
I am glad I joined here and hope one day I can contribute to.

by MidnightCowboy on 14. September 2012 - 16:12  (99263)

Glad it worked out for you. :) I did encounter this myself some time back but it was my own fault due to the misappropriate use of a HIPS program during testing. The only alternative I could find was to reinstall so at least you haven't had to endure that.

by Hobo on 14. September 2012 - 12:36  (99248)

Currently I have 5 windows updates to be done.
It downloads in stalls 15% then reverts back.

I have tried the Fix it Utility and it just does NOT work.

Now I am stuck and cannot get any updates. I searched Google for this problem and ask many places for help.

Microsoft website---suggest the fix it utility as well.

I have a legally purchased software of Windows7 Pro and I am very disappointed. Maybe someone else has a solution?

by Kevin F (not verified) on 14. September 2012 - 22:42  (99273)

I have had issues in the past with MS Update and ended up calling them. MS is security conscience and will assist you for free and stay with you until you are satisfied. You could start with this URL and it will eventually lead you to a phone number if you need it.

Good luck!

by Thingy (not verified) on 14. September 2012 - 20:07  (99270)

I recently had the same problem and ran Fixit as well to no avail. I then tried selecting and doing the updates one at a time and they installed fine this time (go figure - updates didn't like holding hands? :-) )

by Martin Leddy (not verified) on 16. September 2012 - 22:44  (99351)

Yes, that batch of updates failed on a number of win 7 boxes, but in all cases installed fine one or two at a time.

by catwhowalksalone on 6. October 2012 - 16:50  (100378)

I can confirm that - there was some update to the Windows Verification tool included in that batch of updates which I didn't see a day or so later, so I suspect this was the culprit - hey, wouldn't be the first time a poorly implemented anti-pirating measure caused problems. And I thought I had my system fairly well protected - to paraphrase, "Microsoft Windows, the virus that thinks it's an operating system", lol. I had to rollback to last registry backup to get my PC to boot, and then had to uninstall and reinstall some windows components to get everything working again. Seriously, I see why so many people are switching to Linux.

by v.laurie on 14. September 2012 - 14:55  (99258)

If the Fixit does not work, the reason for the update problems may be that some temporary files used by Windows Update have become corrupt. These files are kept in a folder \Windows\SoftwareDistribution. As a last resort you can delete the contents of this folder.

1. Back up your computer first. Do not omit this step.
2. If you have Automatic Updates enabled, turn that off.
3, Delete the contents of \Windows\SoftwareDistribution
4. Re-enable Automatic Updates or whatever update settings you prefer

When you delete the files, Windows Update will be reset to the default configuration and you will lose any settings and the update history. The updates themselves are not affected. However, Windows will have to check if you have all the old updates and rebuild the history the next time you run Windows Update so it may take a while.

by jwevans on 19. September 2012 - 21:01  (99473)

I've had this exact problem in the past with XP(several times) and I did as you suggested and it worked every time. I have not had the issue again since moving up to 7.

by techwest (not verified) on 14. September 2012 - 14:22  (99257)

I know this problem and you're right, the fixit won't fixit. It will however install something that you cannot, IF you have the file - With Windows UPdate, its sorta blind so you don't really have a file saved to point to so its of no use, and it has no capacity to find/fix the underlying issue.
You can try a "repair install" and you have a 50/50 chance of that fixing it though you'll have to reset a few things. I don't know if I am allowed to post link but if you goog/search "repair install sevenforums" you'll get a 'sticky' on how to do it. its not that difficult to try. otherwise, you'll have to save off your valuables and reinstall 7 Pro.

by MidnightCowboy on 14. September 2012 - 12:51  (99252)

Have you tried these suggestions? (Click for the detailed information in the first link).

There are some further links to possibly helpful resources on this page: