Repair Windows Installer Errors

I ran into a problem recently where I tried to install a program on my Windows XP machine and I got an error related to the Windows Installer service, namely

The Windows Installer Service Could Not Be Accessed

After trying  many solutions, I finally got the program to install and fixed the Windows Installer error. Depending on your OS, the solution could be different. In this article, I will go through all the solutions I tried and hopefully one of them will work!

Method 1 – Reregister MSIEXEC

Make sure you are logged on as administrator and then click on Start, Run and type in the following command:

msiexec.exe /unregister

Press Enter and then type this command:

msiexec /regserver

If you are running a 64-bit version of Windows, you will need to type the following command:

%windir%\Syswow64\Msiexec /regserver

Both commands should complete successfully. Now restart the computer and try to install the program again. If this didn’t work, continue reading!

Method 2 – Reinstall Windows Installer

You can also try to repair the problem by reinstalling Windows Installer! Pretty ironic eh! The first thing we want to do is rename some of the current windows installer files before we download the new ones.

Click on Start, Run and type in the following commands below. Press Enter after each command.

cd %windir%\system32
attrib -r -s -h dllcache
ren msi.dll msi.old
ren msiexec.exe msiexec.old
ren msihnd.dll msihnd.old

Next, you want to download the latest version of Windows Installer. We can do that from the Microsoft Download Center.

Type in Windows Installer in the search box and find the latest version, which will be called Windows Installer X.X Redistributable. Once installed, restart your computer.

Method 3 – Repair Install

If neither of those two methods fixed the Windows Installer problem, you will most likely have to do a repair install of the OS.

You can check out my previous post on how to perform a repair install of XP:

Microsoft also has a article on how to reinstall Windows XP if you need more detail:

If you have had this problem and fixed it another way, post a comment here and let us know!

Fix “Please Insert a Disk into Drive” in Windows

One annoying, but common error in Windows is when it cannot detect certain media when connected to your computer. For example, ever pop in a disc into your CD/DVD drive and then when trying to open files, you get slammed with the following error:

Please Insert a Disk into Drive X

please insert a disk into drive

Well hello, there is a disk in drive X! Unfortunately, Windows is not able to recognize the device or media. You can also get this error if you connect other hardware, like a USB stick and then try to open it.

There are several reasons why Windows does not detect media when it is inserted properly and I’ll try to go through all the various methods of fixing this problem.

Method 1 – USB Drive

If you’re having this problem with a USB flash drive, the problem is most likely the current file system format. For some reason or other, the file format on the USB drive is not being recognized by Windows as a valid file system (FAT, FAT32, NTFS, etc).

If you don’t care about the data on the USB stick, then the easiest thing to do is to simply format the entire drive and then re-connect it to the computer.

You can format a USB drive by going to My Computer, right-clicking on the USB drive letter and choosing Format.

format usb stick

The default setting is to format a removable device in FAT32 file format, which is usually fine. I would only choose NTFS if you really know what you are doing and have specific reasons for formatting the flash drive in that file system format.

format usb drive

If you must recover the data from your USB flash drive, then you will first have to use a third party program to try and get the data off the flash drive, then format it.

You can try the following free programs to recover data from a USB flash drive:

Lastly, you can sometimes get this error if the drive letter is already reserved by some other device connected to the computer. In that case, you have to change the drive letter for the USB drive. This is especially true if you have a card reader that has 4 or 5 slots on it. Each slot gets it’s own drive letter, so it’s best to change them all to something at the end of the alphabet like W, X, Y, and Z.

Check out my previous post on how to change the drive letter for a USB drive in Windows.

Method 2 – CD/DVD Disc

You can also receive the “Please insert a disc into drive X” error when using CDs and DVDs. The problem can be caused by other the CD/DVD media, the CD/DVD ROM drivers, or the actual CD/DVD drive hardware.

Here’s a couple of things to try:

1. Check Media Format – Firstly, make sure the media you are trying to use actually is supported by your CD/DVD drive. If you are trying to put a DVD into a drive that only reads and writes CDs, you will get this error.

If you try to play a Blu-ray disk in a drive that only supports CDs and DVDs, you will get this error.

If you try to use a DVD+ disc in a drive that only supports DVD- discs, you will also get this error.

You can see what kinds of discs your CD/DVD drive supports by simply looking at the icons on the front of the drive.

disc read error

As you can see in the image above, this drive can support DVDs and compact discs and can read and write. It does not support Blu-ray discs.

2. Check File System – Another consideration is to determine what kind of file system is being used on the CD/DVD. There are many different formats and if you’re using a burned CD/DVD from someone else, the format used to burn it could be incompatible with your computer.

There are many formats including Joliet, UDF, ISO 9660, HFS (Mac), etc. There are also different writing modes like Disc-at-Once, Track-at-once, Session-at-Once, etc. Not all drives necessarily support all writing modes. And even if the drive supports it, not all applications support it.

So in theory, you could get this error not just from Windows, but from an application in Windows that is trying to access a CD/DVD on your computer.

3. Check Hardware Drivers – Did you recently update the drivers for your CD/DVD drive? If so, try to roll back the drivers in Windows.

If you haven’t messed with the drivers, another thing you can try is to remove the drive from Device Manager and reboot the system. Windows will redetect the hardware and will reinstall the drive.

uninstall dvd drive

4. Update Firmware – Sometimes if you are not running the latest firmware for your drive, you could get this error with certain types of media.

It’s best to visit the manufacturers’ website and download the latest firmware for your CD/DVD drive.

Method 3 – Windows Startup

If you get the Please insert disk into drive whenever you start up your computer, then it could be an issue with a floppy drive, if you’re still using those!

Basically, you need to make sure you pull out the floppy disk before starting your computer up. Or you can do the following. Go to My Computer, then click on Tool, Folder Options and click on the View tab.

restore previous folder windows

Go ahead and uncheck the Restore previous folder windows at logon option and restart the computer.

Method 4 – BlackBerry Users

If you have a BlackBerry and are getting this error when trying to connect it to your computer to transfer files, you might have to make a simple change.

From the Home screen, go to Options and choose Media Card. From there you can configure a few options.

Media Card Support – ON

Mass Storage Support – ON

Auto Enable Mass Storage Made When Connected – PROMPT

blackberry media card

Hopefully some of these solutions will help you figure out this annoying problem in Windows! If not, post a comment and I’ll try to help.

Fix “The Windows Logon Process has Unexpectedly Terminated”

The Windows Logon process is a complicated system process that handles the Windows logon screen, user authentication, loading the user profile, locking the computer, and much more.

There are many errors assoicated with the Windows Logon process, but there are two that I have run into on many occasions.

The Windows logon process has unexpectedly terminated.


STOP: c000021a {Fatal System Error}
The Windows Logon Process system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc0000034.The system has been shutdown.

Depending on whether you are getting this error on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Server 2008, there are several ways to fix the problem. Basically, the Winlogon.exe or Csrss.exe processes have failed and therefore the system crashes.

In this post, I’ll try and walk you though several solutions that have worked in the past to solve this error.

Windows Server 2003/2008

If you’re getting this error on a server, the cause can probably be attributed to one of the following problems below. Scroll down if you are having the problem on Windows XP, Vista or 7.

  • Lack of system resources (hard disk space, memory, CPU)
  • Corrupted Windows registry
  • Service that has failed to start

To check for lack of system resources, check the amount of free hard drive space on the partition where Windows is installed. You can also open the Task Manager and go to the Performance tab to make sure 100% of the CPU is not being used. In the Task Manager, you can also check the amount of available RAM.

windows logon process failed

If the Windows registry is corrupt, you may not even be able to log onto the computer. In that case, you will have to try and get in using  Safe Mode or use the Recovery Console to run the Startup Repair utility, which I will explain below.

If a service failed to start and that’s what is causing the problem, you can click on Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, and then Event Viewer. Click on the System log and look for any white exclamation points in a red circle. These indicate that a service or driver failed.

windows logon process terminated


To fix the first problem of lack of resources, you can either free up some hard drive space or disable some services that are taking up large amounts of memory or CPU power.

You can read our previous post on how to disable Windows services using the Control Panel or how to disable services using MSConfig.


If your Windows Registry is corrupted, you will have to repair it using Startup Repair. You can do this by booting your computer from the CD/DVD and choosing the Repair Your Computer option.

repair your computer

Next, choose your operating system and click Next. A list of system recovery options will appear. Here you should choose Startup Repair.

startup repair

Startup Repair will automatically find problems with your computer and try to repair it. Once it’s finished, restart your computer and see if your problem has gone away.

You can also repair a corrupt registry by using System Restore. Go to Start and type in systempropertiesprotection and press Enter. Click on the System Protection tab and click on System Restore.

Click on Choose a different restore point and click Next. Pick a restore point when your computer was working and click Next. After the registry is restored, restart your computer.


Lastly, if a service has failed to start, you can manually try to start it by going to Start and typing in services.msc. In the Services dialog, find the service, right-click on it and choose Start.

windows logon process error

Windows XP, Vista, 7

If you’re running any of these operating systems, you can try a couple of more things to try and fix the problem.

Last Known Good Configuration

Restart your computer and press F8 when it is booting up. This will get you the Advanced Boot Options.

advanced boot options

This can help you recover from problems resulting from newly installed drivers that may not be compatible with your system.

Reinstall Windows

If that doesn’t work, then you may have to try reinstalling Windows. This is also called a repair install. It basically replaces all your system files, but keeps all your data and applications. You will have to reinstall all Windows updates after perform a repair.

You can read our previous post on how to perform a repair install (scroll to the bottom of the post).


A lot of times the Winlogon.exe process fails due to a bad GINA DLL that has replaced the original Microsoft one. The GINA DLL file performs all authentication and identification tasks during the logon process.

You can check to see if the original file has been replaced by a third-party one by going to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

If there is a key called Gina DLL and it’s value is not Msgina.dll, then the dll has been replaced with a third party program. If they key does not exist at all, then the system is using the default Msgina.dll file.

If there is a third-party file being used, you need to remove or disable the third party software. Usually, this is done by remote control software, so if you have any remote control programs installed, remove those.

Uninstall Windows Update

If you are getting this message right after installing the latest Windows updates, you can try to uninstall them using the recovery console.

Check out this forum post below for the steps to uninstall a particular update:

Hopefully one of these solutions will solve your problem! If not, post a comment here and I’ll try to help! Enjoy!

How to Repair Corrupted Excel Files

Excel is probably just as important to most workers as wearing clothes and eating food. I pretty much use Excel on a daily basis to do everything from managing finances to analyzing customer data. It’s so powerful, it’s hard to imagine life without Excel.

And that’s exactly why it can be so terrible when you end up with a damaged or corrupt Excel file! All of that work and it might be lost forever, unless you were smart enough to make a backup.

Luckily, most corrupted Excel files can be recovered, you just have to try out a lot of different ways. If your Excel file is corrupted, below are some ways you can hopefully repair the file or at least get some of the data back.

Method 1 – Run Repair

The first thing to try is to open it with the Repair option in Excel. You can do this by clicking on File and then Open. In the Open dialog box, single click on the Excel file and then click on the small arrow next to the Open button.

repair corrupt excel file

Go ahead and click on Open and Repair and you’ll get a message asking if you want to repair, which will recover as much data as possible or if you simply want to extract data, which will copy out the formulas and values.

excel open and repair

You can try to repair first and see if it can recover the whole file, if not, you can then try to extract the data.

Method 2 – Save File To Different Format

If you are able to open the file in Excel, you can try to save the file out into different formats and then re-open them in Excel and try to save them back as Excel workbooks.

Click on File and then Save As. Choose SYLK (Symbolic Link) from the Save as type list and click Save. Then close the workbook.

excel corrupt file

Next, click File and Open again, but this time choose the SYLK file. You may have to choose All Files from the Files of type list to see the SYLK file.

Once the file is open, click File and then Save As. Now you will choose Microsoft Excel Workbook and click Save. Note that saving using the SYLK format only saves the active worksheet. You will have to save each worksheet individually and repeat this procedure.

Along with the SLYK format, you can also save the file out using the HTML format. Once saved out, re-open it and try to save it as an Excel workbook. With the HTML format, you don’t need to save each worksheet individually.

Method 3 – Change Recalculation Option

If you can’t open the file at all, you can try a couple of more things. Firstly, try setting the recalculation option in Excel to manual. You can do this by going to Tools, Options and clicking on the Calculation tab. In the Calculation section, go ahead and choose Manual.

If you are using Excel 2007 or higher, the procedure is different. You have to click on the Office button at the top left, then choose Excel Options.

recover excel corrupt

Click on Formulas and then click on Manual under the Calculation options section.

excel calculation manual

Now try to open the corrupted Excel file and see if it opens. If not, keep reading!

Method 4 – Open in Word or WordPad

You can also try opening the damaged Excel file in Microsoft Word or WordPad. In order to do so, you first have to make sure you have the Microsoft Excel Converter installed. You can download it from the Microsoft website.

Even though you might be able to open the files, you will lost chart sheets, dialog sheets, macro sheets, and you will lose all cell formulas. However, you should be able to view the data.

If you have macros, try opening the file in WordPad as the Visual Basic code in your modules might show up. You will have to perform a search for “Function” or “Sub”.

Method 5 – Link to Corrupted File

In Excel, you can link to other Excel workbooks from within a worksheet. You can try to use this method to extract data from a corrupted Excel workbook.

Click File then Open and navigate to the folder that contains the corrupted file. Then click Cancel. Now go ahead and click File and then New and click OK.

In cell A1, type =FileName!A1 and press Enter.

corrupt excel file

If everything goes well, you should see the data from cell A1 of the corrupt worksheet appear in cell A1 of your new workbook.

excel corrupt data

If so, now you can simply drag the corner of the box and expand the selection out to however many rows and columns existed in the corrupt workbook.

recover excel data

Method 6 – Use Excel Viewer

You can also try to download Microsoft Excel Viewer, which may be able to open the file for you. All it lets you do is copy the cells and paste them into a new workbook, but it’s better than nothing.

Method 7 – Use Later Excel Versions

If the corrupted Excel file was created in Excel XP, Excel 2003, etc, try opening it in a later version like Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.

As the versions increase, the ability for the program to recover a file increases also, so you might get lucky and be able to recover your file.

Method 8 – Delete Temp Folder

At this point we’re hoping and praying, but it’s worth a shot. You can delete the contents of the C:\Windows\Temp directory and then restart your computer. Try opening the file again.

If you still can’t open your Excel file, post a comment here and I’ll try to help!

Windows XP or Windows 7 Won’t Boot into Safe Mode

Usually when something goes wrong in Windows, we can fix it by restarting the computer and going into Safe Mode, which basically loads the bare essentials that are needed for Windows to run. At this point, you can try to fix whatever issue is causing problems.

However, there are certain times when you can’t even boot into Safe Mode! When that happens in Windows, you know that’s not good. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why Windows won’t boot into Safe Mode.

Reasons can be anything from your mass storage driver becoming corrupted to the hard drive having disk errors to a corrupted registry. In this article, I will try to compile all the resources I have found for fixing this problem.

Method 1 – Recovery Console

The recovery console can be your best friend in situations like this. There are several useful commands in the Recovery Console that might be able to fix the boot problem with Windows XP or Windows 7.

Firstly, check out my previous article on how to fix a missing or corrupt NTFS.sys file, which shows you how to get into the Recovery Console.

Once you’re in, you’re going to want to run a few commands. Here’s what you should try:

1. chkdsk /r – The chkdsk command will check the hard disk for any errors. The /r switch will repair any errors autoamtically.

2. fixboot – Will write a new partition boot sector to the system partition. Note this command is available in Windows XP only.

3. bootcfg /rebuild – This will rebuild the boot.ini file in case it got corrupted during an attempt to modify it or in a dual boot situation.

4. sfc /scannow – This command will scan all the Windows system files and replace any corrupted ones with working ones.

You can also use the Recovery Console to enable/disable a faulty service or driver. Read the following article to learn how to disable a service or disable a driver using the Recovery Console:

Method 2 – Repair Install

If none of the recovery console commands work, you may have to perform a repair install. A repair install will basically replace all of the Windows system files with new ones from the CD. All Windows updates will be lost too.

However, you will not lose any data or applications. You can read the above-mentioned article, which walks through the steps to perform a repair install.

You can also read the Microsoft Knowledgebase article on how to perform a reinstall of Windows XP, which goes into greater detail:

Method 3 – Replace Registry

If the Windows registry is corrupted, you may also not be able to boot into safe mode. You might see errors like

Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM


Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SOFTWARE

In these cases, you should follow the steps in this article below to replace the corrupted registry hives with new ones:;en-us;307545

Method 4 – Reset CMOS/Reset BIOS

Sometimes if you upgrade your PC or change out a component, you might run into hardware compatibility issues.

If you have this problem, you might want to reset the CMOS, which will reset the BIOS to factory default settlings. Below are some good guides to resetting the CMOS:

If you’ve run into other ways to fix the problem of not being able to boot into Safe Mode, post a comment here and let us know.

Fix COM Surrogate has Stopped Working in Windows 7

I was playing around with one of my virtual machines running Windows 7 the other day, when I ran into a bit of a problem. I was trying to right-click on My Computer and choose Properties and got the following error message:

Runtime error!

Program: C:\Windows\SysWOW64\DllHost.exe

After clicking on OK, I get an message stating that COM Surrogate has stopped working.

com surrogate has stopped working

If I click Cancel a few times, it eventually goes away and I can access what I want, but it’s pretty annoying. It also happened when I tried to click Personalize on the desktop and when trying to use the Control Panel.

Eventually, I found a couple of solutions and tried them out. Luckily, one of them worked and the problem went away. Below are the solutions I found.

Method 1 – Uninstall Adobe Photoshop CS3, Nero, etc

Apparently, certain versions of Adobe CSX and other software like Nero 8 can cause the DllHost.exe error. If you recently installed some new software, go ahead and uninstall it and restart your computer.

Note that this problem tends to occur more on 64-bit systems than 32-bit. Badly written 64-bit software can cause issues, so make sure you download the latest 64-bit versions on all your third-party software.

If you’re not sure what app could be causing the problem, you can use the Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 to figure it out.

Go to Control Panel, System and Security, Action Center, and then Reliability Monitor. You can also type reliability monitor into the search box at the top right.

reliability monitor

Next, click on View all problem reports at the bottom and you’ll now end up in the Problem History screen.

windows problem reports

Find the crash report that has COM Surrogate in the source and then right-click on it and choose View Technical Details. Check out the entry that says Fault Module Name as that usually tells you which program caused the problem.

I’ve also heard that Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 can cause the problem with dllhost.exe and com surrogate. Adding the dllhost.exe to the exclusions list in KIS 2011 seems to solve the problem.

Lastly, DivX and ffdshow codec pack programs have been known to cause this error, so download the latest version of the codec or uninstall them. If you’re using any other codecs like K-Lite, install the latest versions or uninstall them completely.

Method 2 – Turn off DEP or Add Exception

Another way to possible solve this problem is to turn off DEP or Data Execution Prevention. You can do this in Windows 7 by right-clicking on My Computer, choosing Properties, and clicking Advanced system settings.

dllhost.exe error

Click on the Advanced tab and then click on Settings under the Performance section.

com surrogate

Finally, click on Data Execution Prevention and click on Turn on DEP for all programs except those I select and add dllhost.exe to the list.

turn off dep

Hopefully this fixes the Com Surrogate error in Windows 7. If not, post a comment and I’ll try to help.

Fix “Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer” Error

One problem I’ve run across a lot with clients is not being able to print to a networked printer. The most popular error message I see is

Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer or

Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer. Access is Denied.

There are several reasons why this error can come up and a lot depends on your setup. Firstly, I ask users whether the printer is actually a networked printer with a LAN port or if it is simply connected to another computer and is being shared on the network.

Depending on that, you have to troubleshoot the problem differently. I’ll try to go through all the possible solutions I’ve come across for fixing this printing error.

Shared Networked Printer

If your printer is attached to a computer and you have shared the printer on that PC and are now trying to add that printer to another PC on your network, you can try a few things. Firstly, go to the Add Printer wizard and choose A network printer, or a printer attached to another computer.

cannot connect to printer

Click Next and choose Connect to this printer. Then type in the path to the shared printer by entering “\\” followed by the computer name on which the printer is shared followed by the printer name.

add printer network

You should be able to connect to the printer. If you’re getting the cannot connect error message, then you can try to add the printer as a local printer. You can do this by choosing Local printer attached to this computer and unchecking Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer.

On the next screen, choose Create a new port and choose Local Port from the list.

cannot print

Click Next and you’ll be asked to enter a Port Name. Here you will type in the path to the printer we mentioned above.

connect to printer

That should work! Remember only do these steps if your printer is attached to a another computer and it is being shared on the network.

Networked Printer

If you have a printer that is attached directly to your LAN network or wireless network, you should also choose Local printer attached to this computer, and then choose Create a new port like mentioned above.

However, instead of choosing Local Port, choose Standard TCP/IP Port.

printer connection problem

Type in the IP address of the printer and you should be good to go. If you don’t know the IP address, you can print the configuration sheet off the printer.

Windows Firewall

Another reason why your might not be able to connect to the printer is if your firewall is preventing the connection. Make sure File and Printer Sharing is allowed through the firewall on your computer and the computer to which the printer is attached.

You can enable File and Printer Sharing by going to Control Panel, Windows Firewall and then clicking on Exceptions.

file and printer sharing

Make sure the File and Printer Sharing check box is checked. That will ensure your connection is not being blocked by the firewall.


You’ll also see this Cannot Connect to Printer error is you are trying to add a printer to a Windows 7 machine and the computer that is hosting the printer is running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

In this case, you have to download and install the Windows 7 drivers from the manufacture’s website on the host machine. When you try to connect to the printer again from Windows 7, the driver for the Windows 7 OS should be available from the host machine for installation.

Note that you can run into this problem with 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. If the computer hosting the printer is a 32-bit machine and the computer trying to connect is a 64-bit machine, you will not be able to connect.

You need to install the 64-bit version of the printer driver on the 64-bit machine and try to connect again. You can also try to install the 64-bit driver onto the host machine, but it’s a bit more difficult. Either way, you will need to make sure you have all versions of the drivers and that the 64-bit and 32-bit printer drivers have the same name.

Anti-Virus Software

A little bit less common is when anti-virus software blocks connections. Try disabling your anti-virus software and then connect to a shared printer. This is especially true if you are using Norton Anti-Virus or their full suite of apps.

If you’re still having problems connecting to a printer, post a comment here and I will try to help!