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UnInstallation leaving the MSI folders and files behind.

Arnold Layne
Arnold Layne asked
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Last Modified: 2013-11-14
Our installation leaves behind 30mgs worth of MSI files under the C:\windows\downloaded installations folder each time an installation is run, and the uninstall never removes them. Any ideas? Note, these installation are being launched from another machine/location on our LAN. While this might be the cause and it might be saving these files in case we need to uninstall offline, we do not want these files saved and we need them removed upon uninstall because they are going on a windows XP embedded system with limited resources. How can we do that?

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This is caused by the setting "Cache installation on local machine" in the settings of the build in Installshield.

=================
 Cache installation on local machine
Check this box if you would like your installation files to be cached on the target system. When the user performs maintenance operations on your product, the cached location you specify here will be used as the default installation source.
=================

The purpose is to alleviate the problem of the missing installation source when the original installation was downloaded and launched from temporary storage, and now Installer wants to perform maintenance (repair etc.), but the source is unavailable. Yes, it makes sense to remove it once the product is uninstalled, but this can be addressed either by Installshield, or maybe by the installation author. One problem is that the original installation is copied to under downloaded installations\{GUID} by setup.exe, and only then msi is launched; so figuring out the GUID and making the MSI to remove it, is quite nontrivial (even in the lucky case when the file to delete wouldn't be locked by uninstallation until it completes, which would make impossible to delete it from within).

On internet you can find numerous discussions about this problem, which is generally considered as one of windows annoyances, and cleaning it up as part of general disk cleanup, similar to the numerous $NTUninstall folders under windows directory.



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Arnold LayneDeveloper

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I only see "cache web download". Is that the same thing?? i understand what you mean about needing a cached version for repair, uninstallation...However, this is windows XP embedded and a special box, so there are limited memory resources. If "cache web download" were set to no, and the customer was told to download the installation first and then run it locally, would this solve the problem? This way, they still have a copy around, but they don't get multiple cached copies from multiple install/uninstalls. Does that sound right to you?
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Arnold LayneDeveloper

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Thanks., We'll have to decide what we want to do, but those are the answers
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...thinking about it, if this was my own application, I would do this:

1. figure out how to find the old cached installation in the registry
2. during the upgrade, remove _before-the-last-one_ cached installation. I.e. two most recent versions are stored, but older ones are removed.

This probably would be bulletproof enough, and at the same time reasonably self-maintained.

3. to go even further and have some fun, maybe I would program the application itself to remove also the previous cached installation after having been using the current version for, say, 2 weeks. Could be even combined with some check for the available drive space. "Dear user, you are becoming short on drive space. If you had no problems with me, I'll remove some old files to save space."

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