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A real nifty little tool that is a must-have

July 21, 2007

Today I was service manager at my job for a few hours. That includes overseeing the entire help desk, helping technicians with issues, escalating tickets, board monitoring, etc etc etc.

I stumbled across a technician that was working on a Cisco VPN issue for a remote user, who was at his home. He could not connect to the VPN concentrator at his office. It was working, and all of the sudden this morning, it stopped working.

My fellow technician took it into his own hands to try to update to the latest Cisco VPN Client (ver. 4.6), since the user was still using client ver. 3.6.3, after an hour or so of troubleshooting.

He ran into a huge snag though, it seemed as if the old client really never uninstalled itself after he ran the uninstaller. When he tried to run the 4.6 installer, it said that an older client existed, was recently removed, and the machine needed a reboot. He rebooted the machine and reconnected up to the computer remotely only to find the issue still was there.

After another hour and a half or so of him trying to delete files and whatnot, the issue was still there. The ticket should have been escalated to Tier II after 2 hours of work (this ticket was at the Tier 1 level for almost 4 hours!!!). I escalated to the Tier II level and I had one of my Tier II colleagues grab this ticket, telling him that I wanted this resolved ASAP and letting him know I would personally help him get this working.

So when my colleague stepped out for a smoke break, I sat down at his workstation and started looking at this piece of crap computer remotely. First thing I did was clear out every registry key and value that had anything Cisco related. After 5 minutes of Delete-Enter-F3, I went to try to install the newest client again. IT STILL DIDN’T WORK!

Then it hit me. I thought of a utility I had used several months ago on my home machine that removed some items from my Add/Remove programs list that wouldn’t go away even after an uninstall. And that utility was the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility.

I googled this and found it here. After downloading and running this tool, my colleague was able to install the 4.6 client, reboot, re-add the .pcf policy file for the VPN and BAM, the user was connected. Good thing, I had found out he had to leave for China tomorrow morning and absolutely needed to have remote access! WHEW!

But now after all that reading, I’m finally getting to the point of the post! Just what does the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility do? Simple:

With the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility, you can remove a program’s Windows Installer configuration information. You may want to remove the Windows Installer configuration information for your program if you experience installation (Setup) problems. For example, you may have to remove a program’s Windows Installer configuration information if you have installation problems when you try to add (or remove) a component of your program that was not included when you first installed your program. You can find out more by visiting that above link.

This program (along with cleaning out registry) saved our ass, and saved a call to Cisco, and enabled the user to connect to the VPN before his trip for China tomorrow morning. It’s one of those tools that is a must-have for your tool-set; especially if you’re a system admin or a help-desk guy. It can save hours of frustration.

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