"Abort Uninstall" actually uninstalls the program...

Discussion in 'Returnil releases' started by ralws277, Apr 13, 2009.

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  1. ralws277

    ralws277 Registered Member

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    Yikes, what an unpleasant surprise...

    I had received the Returnil Premium 2.0.0.5007 version that was offered at GiveAwayOfTheDay a few weeks ago, had been using it, exploring it's capabilities, and generally liking what I was seeing. I wanted to make one change in the way I had initially set the program up, however. My available free disk space on my C: system partition was getting very low after I had installed Returnil there, down to about 750MB. I had originally installed my Virtual Partition there on the C drive, and later realized it would have been better to put it on one of my other available partitions that had more space available, so last night I decided I should just go ahead and change where the VP was installed (and also change the drive designation from the initial "z" I had given it, to a different designation).

    Following the directions posted in the faq and repeated a few times here in the forum, I began the procedure to modify the properties of the VP: I wasn't sure whether it would be better to modify the VP with it having been mounted, or leaving it unmounted, so I rolled the dice and dicided to mount it before I tried to modify it. After mounting the VP, I quit Returnil (I did not reboot at that time, as I had not had System Protection running - I tend to use System Lock more often). Then I began the recommended procedure to modify the VP properties, as laid out in the FAQ and repeated a few times here in the forum: went to StartMenu/Programs/Returnil/Uninstall, and clicked on the Uninstall program. Next screen, I chose the "Repair" option. I checked over the general options that were selected ("Do/Don't start up at logon", "Add to Explorer Context Menu", etc.), clicked on the box to add Returnil to the Explorer Context Menu (which I figured I must not have done in the initial install), then came to the section that offered the option to change the size of the VP, via a slider control. I set the size to a bit larger than it had been before, but was dismayed to see that there was neither anywhere to specify what partition to locate the VP on, as I had thought there would be, nor anywhere to designate the drive letter to assign to the VP. I thought perhaps the option to select what partition to locate the VP on and assign a drive letter to it might possibly come up in a further screen, so at that point I figured I would just click "OK" or "Continue" or whatever it was, which I did. At that point I got a messge saying the program couldn't install the Explorer Context thing (I think it might have said a file it needed was in use by another program, or else that it couldn't find something it needed to do that installation step -- I can't quite remember), and I was presented with two options by the program: either 1)Skip the step of the installation which had been unable to be performed ("Not Recommended", said the dialogue box), or 2)"Cancel". I decided I would Cancel the action, which would give me a chance to look around and see if I could figure out why it hadn't been able to install the Explorer Contex Menu entry (or just to double-check to see if maybe that was already installed, as I really didn't know for sure), so I clicked on Cancel.

    Ka-Boom! It didn't cancel the un-install ---- it seemed to think that it was in the middle of an installation process, so it **cancelled the INSTALLATION** - meaning it UNINSTALLED Returnil! I was left with no program file any more, no nothing, except a few registry entries referrencing Returnil, or RVSYSTEM or RVSDISK. Waaaaaaaahhhhh!!!

    I know that with the new 2.0.1 and higher versions of the program, a person supposedly no longer has to go thru the uninstall/repair routine to modify the properties of the Virtual Partition, but hopefully if there is still a "Repair" option in the new version, cancelling out of that repair option does not uninstall the program, as it did for me.

    I'm bummed, to say the least. Going through the registry after the unexpected un-installation to just clean up whatever bits and pieces there might be hanging around, I did delete a few left-over references to the path where the program .exe had been located and some remaining references to RVSYSTEM.SYS. There were also a lot of references to RVSDISK, most of which didn't reference Returnil directly, as far as I could tell, and I wasn't sure RVSDISK was something that was exclusive to Returnil or if it might be used for some other program or service as well, so I just left most of those registry references as they were.

    So... just wondering... has anyone else ever aborted the repair process and reported this behavior?? Also wondering if my not finding any screen to choose what partition to locate the Virtual Partion on is due to my being mistaken about being able to locate it on a partition other than the System Partition (or maybe if a person "wants their Virtual Partition on a partition other than the System Partition", they are supposed to just create a regular directory somewhere in a non-system partition, and consider that their "Virtual Partition"?? Meaning that there actually never WAS any option in the setup to locate the VP somewhere other than the System Partition??

    I would really like to know if my disaster here was due entirely to my own misunderstanding of things, or if I intrepreted the information I've read correctly and there actually SHOULD have been a way for me to designate a different partition to locate the VP on. Also, are those RVSDISK registry referrences something specifically related to Returnil, in which case I can go ahead and delete them, or is that something that is used in other system functions besides Returnil??

    Thanks in advance for any post-mortem assistance and consolation...


    Robert.....


    PS... Ohhhh.... or was it perhaps my decision to mount the Virtual Partition before modifying it that may have led to this situation?? Should I have left it unmounted??
     
  2. Coldmoon

    Coldmoon Returnil Moderator

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    Hello rawls277 and welcome :)

    This would have resulted in the messages you recieved that the file was in use so you would not have been able to modify or move it for that reason.

    The best and recommended way to uninstall RVS is to use the built in uninstaller and not manually or through a third party uninstaller. This is due in large part to the complexity of the installation and the fact that RVS is designed to take control of the real disk rather than filter applications or the file system. Improper removals can have unexpected results...

    RVS consists of the following major "parts" where the first two are Kernel Mode drivers:

    RVSYSTEM.sys - This is for creation and control of the System Protection feature.
    RVSDISK.sys - This is for creation and control of the Virtual Partition
    Returnil.exe - (simple description) this allows you to interact with the other two

    The Virtual Partition, if created with the default settings is installed within the hidden folder C:\Returnil and is named RVSYSTEM.img. When mounted by RVS this file cannot be moved, deleted, uninstalled.

    Suggestions for the time being as this report is investigated:

    1) Back up any data and/or content you want to save following an adjustment to the VP. This can be done by replicating (backing up the files) or simply copying the files on a backup disk or partition.

    2) Delete the file RVSYSTEM.img file

    3) Invoke the uninstaller and then select "Repair" to create an entirely new VP.

    4) Move the backed up content into the new VP following the restart to complete the VP installation.

    Mike
     
  3. ralws277

    ralws277 Registered Member

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    Coldmoon --

    Thanks so much for your rapid reply and response to my situation. Good information you provided, re NOT having the VP mounted, when attempting to modify it via the repair option! I didn't see that info anywhere in the faq or in the forum. If it was posted and I missed it, drat. I know it was not included in the three or four posts I read relevant to modifying the VP properties here in the forum, but I might have missed it. Brighter minds than myself might realize that it shouldn't be mounted if trying to modify it. I guessed the opposite, unfortunately.

    In regards to uninstalling via the Returnil uninstall routine rather than using third party utilities or manual registry and file system hunting, sure, that would be my first route. Unfortunately, after I got in the middle of the repair routine (via the recommended program StartMenu uninstall entry), my attempt to abort the repair resulted in the program seemingly jumping right into the uninstall routine, so, naturally, any previously existing Returnil entries in the "Add Remove Programs" list or the StartMenu list or anywhere else were promptly.... ummm... uninstalled -- along with most of the other elements of the program (except for RVSYSTEM.img), which is why at that point I resorted to the manual method of cleaning up the remaining scattered references that I could find in the registry.

    So... at this point, am I understanding correctly that remaining references to RVDISK in the registry would be things only related to the (no longer existing) Returnil files, so I can just go ahead and delete those from the registry, and not worry that RVDISK is something that other software uses?

    Also, just to satisfy my own curiosity (and perhaps clear up a bit of lack of understanding for others as well): I understand that of course the Virtual Partition would have to have special properties when it is located specifically on the System Partition, to allow it to be written to, and survive reboot, seeing as everything ELSE on the system partition is "write-protected" in a sense, and data that would ordinarily be written to the system partition (and not specifically directed to the VP) never ends up as part of the "real" system. However... if a user opts to locate the VP on a NON-system partition (which is what I really should have done in my initial install, but neglected to do), is an actual Virtual Partition established within the non-system partition just as it would have been in the system partition (ie, is RVSYSTEM.img constructed in the non-system partition), or, since non-system partitions have no restriction placed on them as far as receiving data writes, if the user wants to have a non-system VP, does the user just create a regular directory on the non-system partition and consider that as being his "Virtual Partition"?

    I ask because despite having my first installation of Returnil destroyed, I do think it's a really useful app, and intend to at least download and install the personal edition, even tho it won't have the extra capabilities that I had access to in the Premium edition...

    Thanks again for your assistance with this...

    Robert...
     
  4. Coldmoon

    Coldmoon Returnil Moderator

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    Yes, if the files are truelly gone. Please verify by checking if the following paths exist and if they have files:

    1) C:\Program Files\Retiurnil
    2) C:\Returnil
    3) Windows System32 folder: RVSYSTEM.sys and/or RVSDISK.sys

    If the files in 3 exist please let me know as we may need to look at this closer to determine exactly what happened to cause this...

    Yes

    No, Just specify where you want it to be created and Returnil will take care of the rest.

    HTH
    Mike
     
  5. ralws277

    ralws277 Registered Member

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    Coldmoon--

    After the uninvited uninstall, the only file/folder remnants still on my system were the invisible C:\Returnil directory, and the RVSYSTEM.img file inside it, both of which I subsequently removed.

    By the way... some of the references to the correct uninstallation procedure mention to do the uninstall from Safe Mode, and others don't mention having to do that. Is one of those two methods preferred, or does it not actually matter whether you do it in Safe Mode or not?

    Thanks...
     
  6. Coldmoon

    Coldmoon Returnil Moderator

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    Good. Please keep an eye on things and let us know if this happens again. Now that you have experience of what to look for, you have a better chance to record details that will help us identify the cause and correct in future builds if required.

    On a side note, the RVSYSTEM.img file can be manually deleted or moved (the VP can be mobile if you have enough storage space and another copy of Returnil on the target computer you are moving it to ;) ) at any time as long as it is dismounted without causing any issues with RVS. Be sure to "Exit" the RVS GUI before deleting the file and then restart it so that the information refreshes properly.

    Note: Exiting the GUI (Returnil.exe) will not have any effect on the status of your current protection (ON, OFF, or Session Lock) nor will it effect the mount status of the VP if mounted...

    Safe-mode is only required should you run into a situation where the protection feature will not turn off as a safety/last resort to regain control over the program and system. This can be caused by damage, deletion, or corruption of the RVSYSTEM.dat file which (among other things) is where your preferences are stored. If damaged, it could cause the protection to be "stuck" in the on mode.

    Make sure you do not disable the "Disable System Protection while in Windows Safe-mode" option to ensure that you have the ability to uninstall RVS and then reinstall it should this happen for any reason.

    Mike
     
  7. ralws277

    ralws277 Registered Member

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    Thanks Mike. Will do.

    By the way, I hope you're getting overtime for your excellent service out here -- even in the evening! I'll put my two cents in for a raise for you... :thumb:
     
  8. Coldmoon

    Coldmoon Returnil Moderator

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    This is a follow up to the original report detailing what appeared to be odd behavior when the program uninstalled itself when you were attempting to change the Virtual Partition:

    The uninstaller "Repair" performs the same functions as the actual installation file. This means that it will "reinstall" the driver components at restart when you complete your changes. In this specific case, one of these drivers was damaged or corrupted for some reason. My suspicion is that it was the Virtual Disk driver as the VP was still mounted when you attempted to make the changes.

    This damage caused a "trigger" condition within the software that will uninstall the software automatically to protect the system from damage. The main issue here is corruption to a Kernel mode driver which can have unintended or catastrophic consequences depending on the level of damage to the file itself. This then lead RVS to automatically uninstall itself so these same consequences would not be realized and cause even more issues as collateral damage.

    HTH
    Mike
     
  9. ralws277

    ralws277 Registered Member

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    Ahhhh, okay. Thanks for that additional info, Mike. That makes things make a bit more sense for me. It may also explain something that I forgot to mention, which was that after the unintended uninstall, I considered trying to go back to a Windows System Restore point that I had set not long before attempting the uninstall, and discovered that ALL my System Restore points were GONE! I tend to set system restore points (or run ERUNT, which is a great, free utility, if you don't happen to be aware of it) fairly often, before I do anything I consider might be "dicey". I don't remember if I had set one IMMEDIATELY before I attempted the repair, but know I had set one not long before that. I know I hadn't done anything really wild in the short period after setting my last System Restore point, so I suspect their destruction must have had something to do with the aborted repair.

    Might be an interesting thing to check out on a test system: mount the Virtual Partition, close out of the Returnil GUI (neither System Protection nor Session Lock had been active since last reboot, and I did NOT have System Protection set to start with logon), enter the uninstall routine, attempt to modify the properties of the Virtual Partition, then when Returnil says it can't do that, and offers the options of skipping that operation ("Not recommended", it says), or cancelling/aborting, choose to cancel, and see if it blows the Windows System Restore points. That's the kind of nonsense I would love to investigate if I had some disposable test systems at my beck and call, lol...

    Robert

    PS. Ummm, this was on a pre-2.0.1 version of the software (2.0.0.5007 to be exact), and I understand that with versions 2.0.1 and above, users don't need to go into the uninstall routine to modify the Virtual Partition, but if it does reliably delete System Restore Points, that might be good info to post somewhere here for those still running the older versions of the software (like everyone else who got the program via GiveAwayOfTheDay, as I did). [Big capital letters: "IF YOU GONNA TRY TO MODIFY YOUR VP, DON'T HAVE THE DANG THING MOUNTED WHEN YOU TRY IT!", lol ]If you happen to test this out and find that it does have that effect on your test systems as well, I'd be happy to post a note over at the gaotd forum regarding that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
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