Installation: Registry / Hidden Files: Control

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Hirnsausen

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Hi,

I have a question: often when we install software, these programs add registry entries or place even secret files on our computers. I have in mind especially demo software.

Is there any software, which can make those things visible or documenting them? I could imagine a software you start before you run the installation software. Is there anything like that out there?

Or, if not, are there ways to make these procedures or functions of the installation software visible with a disassembler software?
 

1002richards

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Hi,
Have you considered ZSoft Uninstaller? Freeware and recommended here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-program-un-installer.htm

" ZSoft Uninstaller. Like many programs in this class, you need to tell ZSoft Uninstaller to monitor an installation before you do the install otherwise the uninstaller doesn't know what has changed. ZSoft Uninstaller does this by taking a file and registry snapshot both before and after the install and then does a comparison to find what's changed. "

Richard.
 
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There are a lot of programs, including uninstallers, like Winalysis, RegSnap, WhatChanged?, SysTracer, and many more that will take snapshots of the system before and after anything is done. Sometimes developers leave entries so that your settings will still be there if you reinstall the software later. That is actually handy and has no effect whatsoever on the running of the machine, so there is no point in trying to find and remove them.

But leave the registry alone. Empty entries do not make any difference and trying to remove them could lead to making mistakes that could disable something else or even Windows.

TinyWatcher reports major changes to the machine, but not small details. It covers everything from drivers to services entries in the registry, so it gives you what you need without having to search through piles of trivia. It reports all changed, deleted, and new files on the system, too.
 

Hirnsausen

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Thanks for this quite useful information, both of you!

What about files created by those installation programs, on C:\ or wherever? Is there any way to trace them down, too?
 
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Even TinyWatcher reports all new files. Some of the tools I mentioned also track changes to the drive and file-system.

SpyMe Tools is free and has 2 modes: regsitry trace and file trace. You can run both before and after an installation and compare the 2 snapshots to see what has changed.
 
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There is another program you may or may not find useful. Its called Sandboxie. Its a free download. You can read about the basic function in the link provided.
 
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Just a heads up: InstallWatch and InstallRite are recommended by many people for this type of thing. They don't work on Vista or 7, so don't even bother with them.
 

Hirnsausen

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Heeyyyyy, mucho thanks for all the new and excellent answers again! Last question: is there any software which can go into the installation program and get out information what and where the installation program is doing things? Something that can read SETUP files and retrieve information?
 
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Not really. If you want any real-time information on what a setup is doing, you would really need to use a debugger. But ProcMon can monitor all file and registry accesses in real-time. You can specify what process to monitor. But with setups, that can be hard because often the setup file launches yet another process. or several processes, the names of which you don't know ahead of time to set as an option in ProcMon. Since even an "idle" machine is reading and writing to the registry and file system 1000's of times every minute, it can be hard to sort through all the data. But it will be in there somewhere.
 

Hirnsausen

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Thanks a lot for all your hints, and links, and assistance. My deep appreciation for your valuable help, Elvandil (and all others). :)
 

Phantom010

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InCtrl5 is an old program but still does the job.

InCtrl5 records a "snapshot" of your system before the install utility runs. Afterward, it records another snapshot, compares the two, and reports the differences.
 
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