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.

Change Default Log Off Button in Windows 7 Start Menu

By default, the Start Menu in Windows 7 is configured to with a small button at the bottom right to Log off, Shut Down, Restart, Sleep, etc. However, if you don’t want to use the default option of the button, you have to click the small arrow at the right of the button to get a list of other power options.

On my Windows 7 machine, the default button action is to Log off the current user as shown below.

windows 7 power button

However, I am the only one that ever uses the computer, so logging off doesn’t really help me very much. I only restart or shutdown, and mostly restart out of the two, so that would be my ideal option for the button.

power button start menu win 7

In order to change this, simply right-click on the button and choose Properties.

power button properties

Now you will see the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box. Here you can change the action for Power button action.

power button action

That’s it! Now you will see the button has changed to my desired action (restart).

power button action win 7

This is a simple Windows 7 tweak, but one that many people don’t ever bother to change. For me, it’s a small time saver that will add up over years of use. Enjoy!

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!

Fix Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working Error in Windows 7

A client of mine called recently saying that his Windows 7 machine kept popping up with a dialog box with the following error message:

Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working

He would get this error message in all kinds of different situations like opening the Control Panel, right-clicking on the folder, and while performing other simple tasks.

After troubleshooting for a few hours, we were able to finally get rid of the error. If Windows Explorer keeps stopping and restarting on your Windows XP, Vista or 7 machine, try out the following possible solutions.

Method 1 – Disable UAC

If you’re running Windows Vista, turning off UAC might help solve your problem. It’s been noted in many forums that there is some strange issue with UAC that causes Explorer to stop working.

Check out the posts below on how to turn off UAC in Vista and 7:

Turn off UAC in Windows Vista

Turn off UAC in Windows 7

turn off uac

Method 2 – Uninstall/Update Drivers

Windows Explorer can also stop working if there is a driver that is not compatible with the current operating system. If you recently installed a new driver for a sound card, graphics card, hard drive, network card, etc, then try to roll back the driver and see if that solves your problem.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 2.04.13 AM.png

Sometimes you may need to update a driver also, so in that case, go to the manufacture’s website and download the latest versions of all your drivers.

People have also reported having this problem in Windows 7 with NVIDIA drivers. A newer version of the driver may actually cause the issue, so it might be worth trying to uninstalling the driver and installing an older version.

Method 3 – Uninstall Software

It’s amazing how many problems anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can cause on a system. If you’re running Symantec or McAfee or any other huge anti-everything program, try uninstalling it and see if the Explorer has stopped working error goes away.

If you recently downloaded some other third-party program right before the error starting showing up, then try to remove those programs also. Also, if you get this error when right-clicking on a folder, icon, etc, it’s probably because there is some new item in your right-click context menu. Make sure to uninstall the program that added the item to the right-click menu.

If you’re not sure what application is causing the problem, you can always to to the Event Viewer in the Control Panel and check out the application log to see which errors are being generated.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 2.13.19 AM.png

Method 4 – Firefox Add-ons

Another possible reason I’ve read about is that some add-ons in Firefox can cause Explorer.exe to crash. If you have Firefox and have a bunch of add-ons installed, try disabling all of them and see if the problem goes away.

Method 5 – Folder View

You can also try changing a folder view option in Explorer and hope that fixes it. Now we’re getting into desperate solutions, but you never know!

Go into Tools, Folder Options, and click on the View tab. Then uncheck the box that says “Display File Icons on Thumbnails

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 2.30.11 AM.png

Another other solutions to this timeless and annoying Windows error? If so, post your comment here and help us all!

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.