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Using Windows Installer in Safe Mode

Having to recently put on my desktop support hat, I ran into an issue where installed software had created a brick out of an IBM laptop.  I booted into Safe Mode and wanted to uninstall the offending software when I discovered, to my dismay, that I could not access the Windows Installer service from within Safe Mode.

A quick Internet search provided the solution, and that is to edit the registry so that Windows Installer is available.  The following are the steps to take in order to start Windows Installer in Safe Mode.

Important! You may want to back up your registry prior to modifying it in any way.  Microsoft has support article 322756 showing you how to do this for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

  1. Start your computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 before the Windows splash screen appears.
  2. Once logged in, click Start, then Run, and type regedit in the textbox, followed by Enter (or click OK).
  3. Locate and click the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal
  4. Click Edit from the menu, and select New –> Key.  The new Key should be named MSIServer.
  5. Double-click  Default and type Service in the Value data box.  Click OK.
  6. Close the registry Editor.
  7. Restart your computer in Safe Mode, following the information in Step 1.
  8. Once logged in, click Start, then Run, and type services.msc in the textbox, followed by Enter (or click OK).
  9. Click on Windows Installer, then click Start.

You should now be able to add and remove programs from within Safe Mode.

Just remember that a serious problem might occur if the registry is incorrectly comfigured in any way.

I hope this helps someone.

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