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General Tips and Tricks for Installing Software

As of 7-1-2016

Q. Is there a wrong or right way to install software?
A. Yes. The wrong way is to do it without backing up your data first.

Barrettism:
Don't touch the computer unless it's backed up!

Q. Can installing new software mess up my computer?
A. Yes

Q. Can't I just remove it if I don't like it?
A. Yes, but the mess may stay.

Q. Is there an easy way to protect myself from mistakes?
A. Yes. The System Restore will repair Windows but may not repair all mistakes. And it may be hard to activate. Restore points do not get made automatically. You may not have any.

Discussion: Installing new software is not a simple process. Many programs install support files in various Windows folders. Sometimes these files overwrite existing files used by other programs. Deleting the installed program does not return the file to it's previous state. The files overwritten by new programs may be needed by older programs that now don't work right because the overwritten file no longer makes the older program work correctly and you start getting error messages.

Many software programs install a number of programs, not just the main program. When installing a program, see if a dialog box asks you to choose a "Typical" or "Custom" Install. If you choose Typical, you have no idea what gets installed. Choose Custom and see what choices are available. You may see a selection for Internet Explorer ver 3 or 4. Installing this will crash your computer with no recovery except reloading Windows. There are other similar situations where you should not let the Typical install select damaging programs for you. Many "free" programs (and some paid) get their funds by piggybacking other programs in your install.

Once the damage is done, there is no going back unless you have a full backup or your recovery files on disk.

Q. Windows includes extra programs and files. How do I add or subtract the from my installation?
A. Use the following procedure

Open the Control Panel, activate Add/Remove Programs or Programs & Features, select the Windows Setup tab. See fig 1. The programs and files now installed will have a check mark in the box. Note there are 3 states of the selection box. Empty means the feature is not installed. Checked with a white background indicates the entire feature is installed. Checked with gray background means only part of it is installed.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CLICK ON. CHANGING THE SELECTION MAY ADD TOO MUCH OR REMOVE WANTED PROGRAMS.

Lets review the method. Note the 3 states of a selection box. (1) empty, (2) white and checked, (3) Gray and checked. If you click a box, you change the selection. If you click on the words, nothing changes but you get a description of the feature. See Fig 1. If the selection box is gray and the statement says 5 of 7 components selected, click the Details button to see the sub selections. See Fig 2
Note: these window look quite different in XP, but function the same.

And now in Windows 10 things look different but the principle still fits.

.

Fig 1
Fig 2

One other tip: If you louse up one of the items in this list, just uncheck it & uninstall it. Then check it and reinstall it. Example: Solitaire game is not working. Uninstall and reinstall "Games" under Accessories. Solitaire will be in its usual place.

For additional information see Windows Setup page

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