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Windows Add/Remove Item Appears Sporadically

Posted on 2008-10-02
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I had installed MOTOROLA PHONE TOOLS software inorder to maintain a manageable database for my Verizon Motorola Razr 3m Cell Phone.

The process requires the cell phone to be attached to the PC via USB cable.This software was installed and I keyed in some 90 names, tel #s, addresses. Then it is uploaded to the cell phone, where it remains until you require a future update of information.

The software communicates to the cell phone and it all ok, the database opens for updates. This program is somewhat flakey. You must use exact same USB port the software was Primarily installed on or the units will not sync! I have been down this road several times with Motorola techs. So if you forget( as I did) the units won't sync!

Recently, I attempted to update information and ran into a connection problem. After several calls to Motorola Tech and hours installing and uninstalling their software, USB drivers, and modem drivers, I ran into a major glitch! The Motorola Techs asked me to remove the software and they provided me with an earlier software version to do a reinstall and then when operating correctly, introduce an update. Imagine my surprise when,The add/remove selection showed TWO(2) sets of Motorola Phone Tools appearing! One set had the correct Repair - Remove selection and showed the program size of 76mb, the other just showed remove without any size.

I was able to remove the former, but the later keeps popping up a request for a .MSI install file disk to remove the item.

The item was originally installed from a downloaded file.

The Motorola folks advised me to remove every single reference to the Motorola Phone tools. I spent hours scouring the drive for any possibilty of this program. I found pieces of it in the weirdest places. Even found it under names other than "Motorola Phone Tools". It seems the Original version I installed last year used some other names.

I used the MS instruction ID# 247501 & 314481 to remove the appearance via the registry. I was unable to find anything with that Motorola Phone Tools name appearing in the registry. I have tried to use the Microsoft .MSI uninstaller tool several times and it did not fix the problem.

I tried the REVO uninstaller, it seemed to work sometimes and other times appeared sporadically. I tried to delete it, rename it, no matter what I did, it returned, even with the changed name!!!!

I used the add/remove features of other software; Crap Cleaner, Easycleaner, Addremovercleaner.exe, Regseeker, Unclean. I may even have forgotten some.

what did I miss? Why would it return, disappear, then return again? Most of the times with REVO and Windows Add/Remove.

I am concerned that should I reinstall the latest version of the Motorola Phone tools software and drivers, that I will encounter the problem that got me here.  

Suggestions please! as Time is of the essence
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Question by:ginovino
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by:DMTechGrooup
ID: 22630710
Try using the Windows Installer Cleanup utility.. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290301
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by:ginovino
ID: 22632907
You apparently didn't grasp my comment about "I have tried to use the Microsoft .MSI uninstaller tool several times and it did not fix the problem."
Your suggestion is about the same uninstaller I have tried repeatedly. As I wrote, I tried this product several times without success.

AS of this morning, the culprit is only appearing in the Control panel add/ remove program. A quick look at the other removers didn't show it. Though doesn't mean it isn't there.

You best go back to the drawing board on this one :)
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22634563
From the command prompt use:
Set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
devmgmt.msc

This will open device manager.  LEAVE THE COMMAND PROMPT OPEN!!!!
In device manager, click "View-> Show Hidden Devices"
Then scroll down to find the cop(ies) of your phone which aren't being used.  Once those are deleted, check in your %windir%/inf folder (it's hidden, you have to access it from the run command).  In that folder, search for files containing "Motorola" .  Once you find the correct INF file for the BAD version of your phone, delete both the INF and the PNF files.
Then reboot your computer - this should take care of it.

Failing that you may also want to consider System Restore, as this will restore your registry (where all hardware information is located) to an earlier time.

Good luck,
Geoff
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22638266
There must be a typo in what you gave me.

I went to "start" - "run"  and typed in the following and got a message that I must have mistyped something:

Set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 devmgmt.msc  

Why do you have devmgmt.msc on a seperate line in your posting?
is this the correct format or did I miss something?

Thanks for your help
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22638305
Open the command prompt (start-> Run-> cmd and press enter)
Then type "Set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1" and press "Enter"
Finally type "devmgmt.msc" and press "Enter"

They were on seperate lines to indicate the enter key, or new line.

Geoff
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22639520
Thanks for the clarification.

I did as you wrote and it opened a slew of programs. However, Motorola (et al) was NOT there. I found some other references for Grisoft AVG7 antivirus/spyware still appearing! Some had Exclamation(!) points showing. This AVG7 software was uninstalled some time ago, would it be alright to use this method to remove it???? Then follow your other instructions to clean the rest out?

What if , I find remnants of the Motorola stuff sitting in the 'INF" folder, could it be deleted from there?

System restore is out of the question as I am on SP3 with 5 years of updates and other software, drives, and all the rest. ( moreover, its a Dell Dimension 8200 3.1ghz)
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22642636
The INF folder is the first place Windows looks for information when new hardware is detected.  It will copy the configuration (.inf) files there when something is installed.  If you delete files from there, Windows will not "recognize" new hardware without the CD.
In the Device manager, any item with a yellow triangle and an exclamation point has not been installed correctly, or is not functioning correctly.  You can delete all of them (right click and "uninstall").

System Restore is a built in function of Windows XP which allows you to turn your OS back to when it was working correctly.  It will NOT wipe out all updates.  What it will allow you to do is choose the date JUST BEFORE you installed the second version and restore the OS to that point.  Then you would only need to worry about any updates you have put into place since then.

Geoff
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22643216
I'm sorry, I misunderstood. I was thinking System REBUILD/REINSTALL using the Windows install CD , which is a dreaded event.

Not a rewind to an earlier time before I was instructed to reinstall the Motorola Phone Tools software.

I'm not certain that will work at all. I followed Motorola's instructions to the letter and uninstalled every file, folder, new or old, prior and current versions. Similarly installed programs(OEM) which were used prior to buying the TRUE Motorola software. I also removed all competitive viruscides, spywares, anything that would conflict with PANDA virus 2009.

I also used Regseeker to clean out a 1000 or so of old or dead registry files.

this machine is as clean as I know how to make it. Thus going back to a prior date MAY complicate matters.

what do you think?
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22643278
I think I have gotten distracted here.  Reread your original post.  You said you had used the MSICUU2.exe (Windows Installer Cleanup Utility) to remove the MSI Files for the application.  Are you able to download the installer again?  With Windows installer, once you run it, will see the application installed and allow you to remove it.  
There is also the folder c:\windows\installer which is where all the installation files are stored.  As you hold the mouse over each one, a tooltip will pop up telling you which application each file is for (they are stored with a random filename).  Because you used the cleanup utility, I don't believe the MSI for your phone will still be there.
Now that I read the whole post again, I see that you want to get rid of the application and the only way to do that is with the original installation file, so you will have to download it (or check recycle bin...)

I don't believe we need to go back to an earlier time at all but rather to simply run the setup again.

Good luck,

Geoff
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22644609
Here's what I found with a little more checking.

I think I found the culprit in the Windows Installer Folder files: A .MSI installer files for BVRP software which sets up some of the Motorola Phone tools. This file is called the "Blank project template" and was installed on the date of the first software install. Each time I attempted to delete the irritating Add/Remove reference it requested the "Install Disk"(which never existed). When I clicked on this file, it did the SAME thing. I JUST DELETED IT. I also found OFF Brand software install files for prior install of a "cheapy" Phone Tools database which worked poorly and ultimately directed me to buy the "REAL" Motorola software.

I ALSO found a number of .MSI files for software which is no longer installed on this computer. CAN I EITHER DELETE OR UNINSTALL THESE REFERENCES?

I also uncovered references to 2 Motorola .PNF files in the .INF folder for modems (Phone Tools I believe). Can these too be either deleted or removed safely?

Lastly, is it safe after you Uninstall/Remove undesired software (I try a lot of programs) to go into the Windows 'Installer" & "INF" folders to delete the associated entries?

This last bit of information has opened a whole new door to cleaning out my machine thoroughly or at least know where to look to left over tidbits!  
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22644704
The question is:  Are you still trying to remove the installed Motorola entry?  If you are, then you NEED the MSI file as it contains the setup information on where all registry entries and files and DLLs are stored.  Without the MSI it is almost impossible to completely remove a software package.  For instance, what files are in your program files folder?  What files are in application data?  What files are in System32 as DLL's?  You can track it down piece by piece.  You can even remove the Add/Remove programs entry from the registry (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall ), but going this route still does not guarantee removing all of an application.  The only sure way to dispose of something is the exact opposite of how it was installed.

Let me know how you make out.
Geoff
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by:ginovino
ID: 22644732
i just got a TSPr.exe report  that was produced automatically a report which it sent to LAVASOFT
(ADAWARE). Is this trouble?
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22646128
I have no idea :)  Ad Aware is, to my knowledge, one of the best spyware scanners available (for free, at least).  I suspect that if it detects a serious problem it will notify you.  You also may want to install a second scanner, Spybot Search & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html) which is another free scanner.  Using those 2 you will find and remove almost all known spyware/adware on your system.
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by:ginovino
ID: 22646321
i have been using both , on & off for several years. I tired a few oth3ers, but AD-Aware has always kept me out of trouble. But the 2008 Free versions no longer allow you to insert those great plug-ins which really helped. Now and then I use free Kapersky or Trend micro, I am now in the process of trying the Free Panda suite... But to buy in, is pricey IMHO.

This reference:  22644704 about 3 up made a point of telling me that I might never ger rid of this buggy ADD/REmove reference. I think it will dissappear as I keep on digging deeper. That is strange is that is shows up sporadically in the Windows(MS) Add/ remove, thouhgt not in the ADD/Remove of the several programs I have installed to clean out software. Can you explain that?
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22646828
In a general fashion, yes I can.  Specifically, not without testing.  Are you able to download this program again?  You said this was the one from Motorola that they had you download, correct?  If so, let's try downloading it again.

To completely remove the application we need (NEED) to have the MSI file which installed it.  Once we have that we should be able to right click on the MSI and select "Uninstall" (although that may not be an option this time because of the amount which we have ripped out manually).  I remember in the early days of Windows 95 we would run into problems with software and end up with damaged files.  The only we we were able to remove it was to install the application again to repair the damaged files and registry entrifes.  Once it was installed correctly, we would then be able to remove it.  This is what I am advocating in this instance.

Geoff
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by:ginovino
ID: 22650365
A couple of points:

I found out about the TPSrv.exe file. It is a component of the PANDA 2009 antivirus / spyware software I have installed and are testing to see if I want to pay for it going forward. (I am finding it a little intrusive and a minor resource hog, though not as bad as McAfee, Norton or Trend).

Could you provide me step by step instructions (as you did with"DEVmgr_ET AL) to perform these instructions :
"Once those are deleted, check in your %windir%/inf folder (it's hidden, you have to access it from the run command).  In that folder, search for files containing "Motorola" .  Once you find the correct INF file for the BAD version of your phone, delete both the INF and the PNF files."

I am very close to reinstalling the original Motorola phone tools software, Once I perform the aforementioned check - cleanout.
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22652164
To get the INF, click start-> RUN-> %windir%/inf and click OK
Then click the "Search" button on the toolbar.  Then look for files "containing text" motorola.
This will give you a list of ALL files with "Motorola" in them.  You cannot delete everything, but each file will have additional information.  Unfortunately you have to look through them and figure out what devices they are for.  Once you find the ones you don't want, delete both the .INF file and the corresponding .PNF file from the inf folder.  Unfortunately there is no "Step by step" series to follow, otherwise it could be scripted.  This requires looking at and figuring out exactly what each file you find is for.

What I would recommend is to not "DELETE" the files, but rather move them into a seperate folder on your desktop.  That will serve as a measure of protection against possible mistake.  There should only be 1 (possibly 2) files that get deleted (well, 4 because each had an inf and a pnf file associated with it)

Sorry I can't be more specific on this.

Geoff
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22674575
Geoffsutton,

I am still working on this project. I finally cleared out every reference to Motorola phone tools past and present. I have the install files sitting on my desktopn. I spent another unproductive hour with the Motorola tech attempting to do an install without success.
The arranged for a call back with a higher level tech and I'm waiting to here from them..... Still waiting since monday.

I cleaned this computer out better than a proctologist on a fissure hunt.

But at this point point I cannot get rid of this errant reference to Motorola Phone tools ( generic logo) which continues to appear in Windows Add/Remove. NO MATTER WHAT  REMOVE, ITS LOOKING FOR THE INSTALL .MSI and it continues to show up with No size parameters but a ver4.3? I googled it, without success.

What is really bizarre, is that it shows up in Windows & CCleaner, but not in the unistalls for Regseeker, Spybot S&D, REVO,

For it to appear in the ADD/Remove, doesn't it HAVE TO APPEAR IN THE REGISTRY SOMEWHERE WITH A NAME--MOTOROLA PHONE TOOLS?
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22675193
Again, I vouch that you download the original installation file from Motorola and install, then uninstall the same package again.  This will reset, then correctly remove all the Motorola settings.
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22675304
i have already done that with them at the helm.

It is still sitting somewhere on this machine. How do we dig deep enough into the registry to remove this reference. Obviously it is actively sitting somewhere on this machine  and I also changed its name to "Motorola Crap phones" and sure enough it shows up in the Windows ADD/Remove!

So where is it hiding?
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Accepted Solution

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GeoffSutton earned 500 total points
ID: 22675404
HKLM/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Currentversion/Uninstall would be a good place to start.  Then check HKCU/software/microsoft/CurrentVersion/uninstall.  Then Check each of those keys under Hkey Users Root/USERID/Software/.../Uninstall.

Those are the only places it can be if it is showing up in Add/Remove programs.

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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22687029
just an update. I am awaiting a call back from Motorola "4th" level tech support about this software. I continue to have installation problems and thus the offending item in the add/remove window.
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22691313
Wow....  I really wish I could get my hands on your computer....  I cannot imagine something being this difficult... If they can't do it, how feasible is backing up data & wiping the system?
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22694050
i have attached 3 screen shots of the offending entry. The first as it appears in the Windows add/remove screen, the 2nd as it appears in CCleaner's install screen and the 3rd where is does NOT appear in Regseeker's installed files screen...go figure. I didn't realize the .bmp files were so large, so the 3rd file is a jpg.
motorola-bogus-entry.bmp
motorola-bogus-entry2.bmp
motorola-bogus-entry-3.JPG
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22694336
I did some research and I have a few "guesses" for you.

FACT: (this I know) Add/Remove programs pulls its data from HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/Current Version/Uninstall folder in the registry.  Items are in different formats but as you go through the list and look at every item, you will find the one containing 'Motorola Crap Phono Tools' as a data item on the right.  Delete the entire folder on the left.

RegSeeker (I believe) Pulls it's data from a more in-depth HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software.  Thus it will give a more accurate representation of what is in the system since it is referencing the actual registry keys, not just what Windows thinks is installed.  

CCleaner I would bet uses the same approach Add/Remove programs does.  Have you entered the registry manually and looked at each item in the Uninstall folder?

Geoff
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Author Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 22695272
GEOFFSUTTON!!!!!!

SUCCESS!!!! :):):):) HOORAH!, HAPPY NEW YEAR! BANG THE DRUMS!

I FOUND IT!

It has been lurking in the HK classes ROOTS..... Installer---Products. I was able to use REGSEEKER's "find in registry" tool the reference. How I missed it to this point in time I can't figure.

I used the built in file search tool in windows and it missed it everytime!!! God knows what else it misses.

So the problem of the erroneous add/remove entry is finally resolved and cleansed out of this machine.

I wasn't even aware that REGSEEKER had this feature. I 've come to like that little program as it appears to thoroughly clean out the old and bad registry entries very quickly. I only wish it had a help file to advise about what is safe to remove and what is not. It simply ranges the offending entries in 3 colors  RED, Orange & Green and you must decide which are safe to remove. Of course I always back up the info before purging it.

I truly want to thank you for all of your in depth help and support with this issue. Had it not been for your concise references to the registry and all the places things hide in it, I would not have remained persistent and attempt different things, moreover continuing to rifle through that morass called Windows registry!

I hope they make a sticky out of this problem and solution!
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Author Closing Comment

by:ginovino
ID: 31502642
Persistence paid off!
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by:GeoffSutton
ID: 22695569
I am glad you got rid of it :)  Thanks.

Geoff
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