Sometimes I just can't figure out how Windows works (who
can?!). I have tried many times to uninstall certain programs
and then reinstall them. When using the uninstall program
that comes with the application or the Add/Remove Programs
applet of the control panel will leave a lot of garbage behind.
There will be files left on the hard drive. There will be
orphan entries in the registry. One would assume that when
you install something, it is actually uninstalled. Of course
this doesn't happen, and that has sprung up a whole market
for "uninstallers" or programs that clean up after
a program is removed.
What if you decided to reinstall the same program without
cleaning up? You would think that if you install it again,
it would just copy over the same files. This would replace
the files that are there. That doesn't always happen though.
If the install program tries to copy a file to your hard drive
that is already there, sometimes Windows decides to ask you
if you want to keep a newer file, sometimes the file is just
automatically overwritten if it exists, and sometimes it doesn't
install the file, even if the version you want to install
is newer. This is where problems can occur. Here are some
things that can cause problems and some possible solutions.
Every computer is different (since it has different hardware,
software and drivers) and so different approaches will bring
There are in the PC environment a lot of files with a DLL
extension. These are "helper" files that are common
to a lot of programs, a library file that contain functions
that any program can call upon. Newer versions of programs
use newer versions of a specific DLL file. Let's say that
you have 3 programs (Word, Netscape 4, and WinZip) and all
three programs use several common DLL files. Now lets say
that you install a newer version of WinZip. As part of its
installation package, it installs a newer version of one
specific DLL file. Now when the other two programs call
on that DLL file, it is different than expected. That can
cause problems. If you find that a program starts to give
you illegal operation, invalid page faults, or other errors,
it is possible that an application that you installed recently
replaced a common DLL file and now your older application
doesn't like it. Sometimes the only solution is to go back
to the old version of that DLL file. The question is how
do you do that?
The only thing that you can really try is to reinstall
one of the older applications. Hopefully when you reinstall
an older program it will replace the newer DLL with the
older one. If this doesn't work, then it is possible to
get a copy of the DLL version that you need (off of the
internet or from someone else who has it) and just copy
it to the directory it is needed in. This would be kind
of complicated though and probably only expert users would
Let's pretend again. Lets pretend that you install you
modem with the drivers that came with it. After a while,
you check out the manufacturer's web site and find that
there is an updated driver. You download it and install
it. You restart the computer, but you find that a feature
that you know should be there isn't. What is the problem?
It is possible that when windows restarted, it identified
your hardware, but still used the older version of the driver.
What do you do? It might be necessary to manually delete
the driver before you install the newer driver. In the Windows
folder, there is a system folder called INF (It is possible
that you won't see this INF folder if you have Windows set
up to not show hidden files and folders. You may need to
go into the View menu and the folder options and then choose
to view all files). If Windows is using a default driver
that comes with Windows, then it will be in that folder.
There are hundreds of drivers there, so it might be difficult
to find the one you are looking for. If you installed a
driver yourself, then the driver will probably be in the
INF/OTHER folder. On my computer, the INF/OTHER folder has
drivers for my ATI video card, my AGFA scanner, my USR modem,
and my Zip drive. These are all things that I installed
specific drivers for. Anyway, if you are having a problem,
then you can find the driver that is a problem, erase it,
and then reinstall it from the new version that you have.
Some drivers (sound and some video) will be stored in the
system folder. This is because they are set up as virtual
devices (VXDs). To find out which drivers are used, go into
the Device Manager of the Systems applet of the control
panel, click on the properties of the device you are wondering
about and view the file details. It will give you a list
of files that are used for it and where they are located.
You can then locate them and delete them as needed.
Invalid Page Faults
According to the February 23, 1999 issue of PC Magazine,
"Are you an Internet Explorer user? Have you ever
seen the error message "IEXPLORE caused an invalid
page fault in module Kernel32.dll"? One of the more
likely reasons is that there is at least one dynamic link
library (DLL), a type of program file, located on the desktop.
If so, you probably can't see it, because by default, Windows
won't show such files. To make them visible, open My Computer
by double-clicking on it. Select the View menu, then either
Options or Folder Options (depending on your version of
Windows). On the View tab, you will find an option to "Show
all files." Select it. After you click OK, you may
see new files, some with a DLL extension. Give each file
a different type of extension or move it."
If you want to reinstall a program, I would recommend that
you NOT reinstall over the original installation. If you
do this, you may end up with a problem like I described
at the beginning of this article. It is best for you to
move any necessary saved data to a temporary directory,
and then erase the directory that it came from. You can
then reinstall the program fresh. The directory will be
made again and everything will be clean. You can then move
your saved data back to the directory and everything should
be back to normal.
Reinstalling an operating system can be a daunting task,
but sometimes that is all that can be done to fix a problem.
You can do the same thing that you would do for a regular
application. Move any vital data to another location, erase
the operating system's folder, and then reinstall. If you
are using Windows and use this approach, then when you reinstall,
you will also have to reinstall all of your applications.
You can try to reinstall the OS over top of the original
installation. Many people have found that this works for
them. If you are a very advanced user, you can move the
registry files, reinstall, and then move them back. This
isn't my choice though. If you have a problem, then the
chances are that the registry also has a problem. It takes
a few hours, but I have found that my system always performs
better after a clean install, not after a reinstallation.
This will by no means solve all of your problems, but these
are good things to know. After you try several of these tips,
you will find which ones are best for you and your system.
At the very least, these tips should save you from reformatting
your hard drive when you don't need to.
Disclaimer: Remember that you are responsible for what happens
to your computer. These are just suggestions that I have found
useful. There is no guarantee or warranty given or implied
when I make these suggestions. You follow them at your own