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Uninstall Issue

I am running Windows Vista 64-bit (Service Pack 1) on an almost one-year-old Dell Inspiron, and, a few Sundays ago, I uninstalled McAfee Security Center 2010 using the Programs and Features uninstall and MCPR.exe.  (In the interest of full disclosure, since my McAfee subscription was running out, I decided to try another security suite, with the intention of switching back to McAfee if I did not like it.)  After uninstalling, my Windows Sidebar is no longer functional.  (I believe this happened after I rebooted after running the removal tool, although perhaps it happened following the reboot after uninstalling using the Programs and Features uninstall.)  The only gadget I had running was the clock; it now shows up essentially as a black box, with the other gadgets similarly not showing up correctly when I try to add them to the sidebar. 

Not realizing that the sidebar issue was going to stay around after I installed the new security software, I went ahead and installed the new suite. The Monday after uninstalling (without uninstalling the new suite, if that makes a difference), I tried a system restore to before I uninstalled McAfee.  After the restore, the clock gadget showed up perfectly, and I thought that I would try uninstalling McAfee again.  However, since not all of the areas of the McAfee uninstall screen (the one that is accessed via Programs and Features) were visible (the majority of what I assume was the remove button was cut off from the screen) and the options to uninstall were a bit different than when I initially uninstalled it (instead of having only two options for the programs that I wanted to uninstall, McAfee Internet Security & SiteAdvisor, all the different components were listed individually, i.e. antivirus, firewall, etc.), I decided to undo the restore and ask for advice from people who know what they are doing, lest I mess things up further.

The only thing I might have done incorrectly when uninstalling was unthinkingly either clicking “Open” (or something like that) in the dialog box that popped up after I saved the MCPR to the desktop or double-clicking the icon on the desktop (can’t remember right now which I did), instead of exiting out of the dialog box and right-clicking the file and clicking “Run as Administrator.”   Would that have caused this problem?  (In Sept. 2009, I uninstalled and reinstalled McAfee with no problems when I right-clicked the MCPR icon to uninstall.)  Could it have caused other, more serious problems?  (The Monday after I uninstalled, I ran the System File Checker, which said that tcpmon.ini was corrupted and couldn’t be repaired.  I don’t really know what that file is, if it is important, or if uninstalling McAfee is what corrupted it, as I had never run SFC before.) 

Any suggestions for fixes? Should I do a system restore and try to uninstall McAfee again?  If so, how should I proceed with the uninstall?  Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!  (I apologize for not being timelier with my posting.  I am a student taking online classes, and, since my computer was still functional, I didn’t want to distract myself from my schoolwork until the end of the summer term.)

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Re: Uninstall Issue

If you do a 'system restore' it's always a good thing to uninstall any antivirus first. But did you uninstall the 'other' security suite too before you re-installed the McAfee software again? Which 'other' security suite did you install?

Try to uninstall the Mcafee software again with the MCPR tool. You can find it here: How to uninstall or reinstall supported McAfee consumer products using the McAfee Consumer Products ...

Then try to reinstall the software from your McAfee account.

Re: Uninstall Issue

Thank you for your reply.

When I did the system restore that Monday, I did not uninstall the new security software (Norton 360) prior to restoring.  Although I could see that the Windows sidebar was working correctly, I didn't know exactly how I should proceed (due to the issues mentioned in my first post), so I undid the restore.   

I haven't reinstalled McAfee (at least not as of yet).  However, I was able to uninstall/reinstall McAfee successfully back in Sept. 2009 without incurring the sidebar issues.  (I properly right-clicked and "Run as Administrator" during that uninstall.)   

Do you think my not right-clicking "Run as Administrator" this time around caused the sidebar issues (and, thus, I should do a system restore and try uninstalling it again)?  If so, you’re saying that I should uninstall Norton before doing the restore?  When I do the restore, how should I uninstall it?  Should I try using the Program & Features uninstall if the whole screen does not show up (i.e. click on what I assume is the “Remove” button) or just run the MCPR tool without using the Programs and Features uninstall? 

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Message 4 of 12

Re: Uninstall Issue

Not really sure if the uninstall of McAfee's software has anything to do with the Windows sidebar. But yes, if you want to do a system restore then it's a good idea to uninstall the Norton software first. If you do a system restore then it might even restore the McAfee software?!? You can find instructions and uninstall utility for Norton at this website: Save your Norton 360 Product Key, then download and run the Norton Removal Tool.

Even if you get McAfee or Norton software back after the system restore I would uninstall and reinstall the antivirus software again. A system restore always mess up the antivirus software.

Re: Uninstall Issue

Thank you again for your reply. 

Re-reading my last post, I realize that I wasn't entirely clear in my questions about what I should do regarding the system restore and uninstallation.  As mentioned in my first post, the day after I uninstalled McAfee, I restored my computer to the restore point that I created before beginning the McAfee uninstallation process.  (When I restored to this point, the sidebar was working fine – which makes sense, since it did not stop working until directly after I uninstalled McAfee, I believe after I ran the MCPR tool without clicking "Run as Administrator."  When I did the restore, McAfee was still there, although, I don't think it was working correctly.  As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to mess things up further without seeking advice from others, so I undid the restore.) 

Anyway, if I do a system restore, how do I then uninstall McAfee (see my original post for info about how McAfee appeared when I did the restore)?  Do I try using the Programs and Features uninstall (even though not all the buttons may show up) and then run the MCPR tool, or do I just run the MCPR tool? 

Re: Uninstall Issue

At the risk of further muddying the waters, is there any reason you are only running Vista SP1?

I am pretty sure it's up to at least SP2, and, anything that might improve stability (especially display issues, with which Vista was/is especially plagued) might help; not to mention the security concerns of running an OS that is not fully patched.

You might also check to be sure your video card drivers and other drivers are up to date.

I had a lot of problems with that sidebar and eventually disabled it and all the gadgets...

As a fellow Vista survivor, I definitely feel your pain.

(Major reason why I abandoned a 16-month old Vista system -- with an OEM underpowered, underperforming video card and constant video issues -- in favor of Win 7.  Assuming your system meets the hardware & other requirements for it, I would strongly encourage you to ditch Vista and move to Win 7.  IMHO, if you end up having to do something drastic, like an OS repair or uninstall/reinstall, I personally wouldn't bother with Vista.  JMHO, of course.)

Hope you get it all sorted out -- it sure can be a frustration and time vortex!


Re: Uninstall Issue

Thanks for your reply, MoxieMomma.

I was wondering if anyone would ask why I only had SP1.  I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago that there was a SP2.  It was never pushed through to me through Windows Update.  (I read on some site that it doesn’t get pushed through if you have “Important” updates left to install; I have never installed IE8, so I think that may be why SP2 was never offered to me.  The website I was on said that if you hide the important updates, SP2 should be offered.  Don't know if that's true, though.)  Anyway, upgrading to SP2 was on the top of the list of things for me to do over my mini-summer break, but then this issue popped up.  Thought I should take care of this new issue first, in case it would interfere with my SP2 install. 

I see from your signature that you have Dell systems.  Have you ever restored your computer to the factory image?  Assuming that I have that feature on my computer, I was thinking about doing that, if need be.

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Message 8 of 12

Re: Uninstall Issue

Thanks, MM. I did miss the SP1 thingie. Which makes it actually even better because before installing any Service Packs you also have to uninstall any antivirus program. So the thing to do here is to uninstall AV-program, install Service Pack 2 and all other Microsoft updates after that before installing whatever Antivirus program you want to install. You can also get SP2 from the Microsoft website: Service Pack Center. Installing this service pack might also repair the Windows sidebar issues. After installing SP2 make sure you get the other updates for windows Vista.

Re: Uninstall Issue

Hmmm, well, all I can offer is this:

1) I would definitely recommend that you update your system to SP2 AND IE8 ASAP before trying to reinstall McAfee.  Even if you don't use IE8 as your preferred or default browser, many programs (including McAfee, I think?) use it for their updates.  Although some of these programs can use older versions of MSIE, IE8 is safer and more stable and may reduce problems with many software updates, uninstalls, reinstalls, etc.  And it is MUCH safer than older versions. As far as SP2, you really, really need to have it, if you want any semblance of stability out of Vista.

2) Usually, as the others suggested, you might wish to at least consider uninstalling your security suite (McAfee or other) before doing a system restore.  Security apps, in particular, have a tendency to react badly to a "roll back", b/c of the registry changes it creates -- the security program thinks it is no longer up-to-date (and it's not), and that can cause it to go bonkers.  Sometimes you can avert issues if you IMMEDIATELY run a manual update of the security app right after the restore, but this doesn't always work.  That said, a complete security suite uninstall/cleanup/reinstall before doing a simple system restore is a LOT of work and time....

3) No, I never had to restore to a factory image, thank doG.  That would be pretty drastic.  If I were in your shoes and were going to go to all that trouble, I would seriously consider a nuke-and-pave, but I personally would NOT reinstall Vista.  Assuming your system will support Win7 (there is a link at the MS website where you can run a check on this:, I would go ahead and install Win7, instead.  Even if you had to add some RAM (Win7 (x86) likes at least 2 GB and prefers 4 GB, Win 7 (x64) needs at least 4 GB to run well), that would not be terribly expensive and your machine would run better. ( I was facing a similar situation ~6 months ago, and my XPS 420 was going to need more RAM, a better video card and a nuke-pave. It just wasn't worth it, especially for Vista. So, I just swallowed hard and got a new system already running Win7.  Win7 is AWESOME.)

A couple of caveats: once you have uninstalled your third-party security suites (Norton and McAfee), your system running only Vista SP1 and MSIE7 is VERY vulnerable to threats, esp if you are also missing other Windows updates.

I would strongly recommend that you be sure to enable both Windows Defender and the Windows Firewall (and possible install the free MS Security Essentials) temporarily until you get your system updated.

Then I would make sure to get your security suite reinstalled expeditiously (follow the instructions the others have given re: McAfee & Norton, including running the removal tools and rebooting when needed).

I would also work offline as much as possible and would be extremely cautious about anything you do online in the interim.

I would probably also install, update and run the free versions of both MBAM and SAS after all is done, just to be sure you are clean.

I'm no computer expert, just a self-taught (sometimes the "hard way") home user and a veteran of XP, Vista and Win7.

The real experts can guide you more expertly. (If you have a support contract with Dell, their premium N-American support is generally pretty good, and they can screenshare with you to help with some of this.  It might be worth plunking down the $$ to have them help with all this, if you are not comfortable doing it alone.  They will punt any support about McAfee back to McAfee, but they can assist with Windows updates, uninstalling/reinstalling the OS, etc.  There are also some Vista forums and MS forums that deal with the Vista OS -- you might be able to get more specific and expert help there, too.)

Well, I'll turn this over to the experts now.

I hope you get it all fixed,


Re: Uninstall Issue

Excellent suggestions MoxieMomma and there are some helpful hints on installing Vista SP2 HERE.

Windows Firewall should auto-engage when McAfee is removed however it can't do any harm to enable it manually in advance.

If you turn Windows Defender on (McAfee turns it off by default) make sure you update it also.

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