Removing Troublesome Crapware

By | 2009-07-31

My mum got a new Dell Studio laptop. The thing was great and blew even my desktop PC out of the water (at the time). There was a small problem, and that is of course that it’s a Dell and it came filled with crapware! So naturally I’ve removed it all. However one of the applications was a real pig….

The culprit was called the Dell DataSafe Local client. It had two components, a support component and an application component. The support part removed easily, I expect it was just documentation. However when I ran the uninstaller for the application part (elevated of course – this was a Vista x64 machine) the uninstall would begin but after a little while taskmgr shows it’s using 100% of one of the CPU cores and the memory usage is rising heading for infinity, a nice little memory leak. Great that’s not going to work.

So I think maybe a reboot and a repair then uninstall again will help. No, can’t do that as the installation source media is not on the original application support DVDs. Most likely it’s buried somewhere inside a hidden .wim file on the support partition – I’m not downloading the WAIK on a brand new laptop just to get to that. OK so now what? Surgically remove it from the registry and unregister all the dll’s? No way, it’s hundreds of MB and I expect it’ll leave crap everywhere and mess up this lovely new laptop in the process.

I’ll stop wasting time…the answer with most problems like this is to use the fantastic sysinternals tools from the godlike Mark Russinovich (he used to run a great blog). So I grab psexec, drop to an elevated command line and – the naughty bit – I run a cmd.exe as the system user… running the setup from there as system works like a charm and the crapware is dust 🙂
In all likelihood the problem was the usual crap installshield uninstaller and it was probably wrongly changing elevated states so couldn’t gain access to the files it needed to delete.

Anyway, if you have trouble uninstalling something, try removing it as the system user using psexec, it more than often will sort the problem good and proper.

How to remove “Dell DataSafe Local”:
click the start button
cmd.exe (ctrl+shift+alt return) [this runs cmd.exe as an elevated user]
psexec -d -s -i %comspec% [runs cmd.exe as system, interactively, and without waiting for it to close]
– switch to the new cmd window that has opened –
"C:\Program Files (x86)\InstallShield Installation Information\{0ED7EE95-6A97-47AA-AD73-152C08A15B04}\setup.exe"