Manually remove ArcGIS after uninstalling fails

Last Published: April 25, 2020


** Internal Publish Only!! **
The steps in this article are for ESRI Support Implementation Analysts and should not be published.

The information in this article pertains to the manual uninstall and reinstall of ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Workstation, or both.


It is very important to analyze the uninstall problem on the user's machine before following the steps below. This will help with situations where there is a problem that can be fixed in a future release or is due to a third-party product and needs to be documented.

Before pursuing a manual uninstall of ArcGIS, it is required to try the following options in this order:

a) Go to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel > highlight ArcGIS Desktop > Select Remove. If this fails, note the error message and/or create a screenshot of the error received.
b) Go to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel > highlight ArcGIS Desktop > Select Change > Select Repair. If the repair is successful, try step (a) again. If the repair option returns the same error, continue to step (c).
c) Run the Uninstall from the command line with the log option. The command for this is MSIEXEC /x <path to setup.msi on CD> /qn /L*v C:\ArcGISUninstall.log

- the log file
- all the steps tried
- any information from the user about things done to the system before this issue occured
- any information that helps to understand the situation the user is experiencing
to your group lead and the Senior Support Technical Lead, as well as to Laurene Koman in Development for further review and further suggestions.

After the possible causes for the Uninstall problem were reviewed and after trying further suggestions from the leads, only then, consider assisting the user with manually uninstalling ArcGIS.

To manually uninstall ArcGIS Desktop/ArcGIS Workstation, proceed carefully through the following steps below.
Before making any registry modifications, click on the link 'How To Modify the Windows Registry' in the Related Information and read this important information from Microsoft.

  1. Close all applications.
  2. Unregister all custom commands that are installed.
  3. Uninstall all custom extensions that are installed.
  4. Download the Microsoft Cleanup Utility and use it to remove the ArcGIS software products that fail to uninstall.
    The Cleanup utility only removes the actual .msi files and MSI install/uninstall registry keys, not any registry keys or files required for the software to run.

  5. In Windows Explorer, locate the 'Program Files\Arcgis' directory and delete it.
  6. Install the same software products' versions again and uninstall them to properly remove all files and registry keys that are created during installation for the software.
    If this step is not done, then there are hundreds of registry keys left behind on the system that can cause performance degradation.

  7. Remove Installer Registry Keys. These should have already been removed by the uninstall or MSI Cleanup Utility.
    A. Click Start > Run and type regedit; this opens the Registry Editor.
    B. Navigate to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall; it contains a list of folders with alpha-numeric names.
    C. Find the folders with a Display Name related to ArcGIS and delete them.
    D. Navigate to: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Installer\Products in the registry; it contains a list of folders with alpha-numeric names.
    Find the folders with a Product Name related to ArcGIS and delete them.
    E. Close the Registry Editor.
  8. If reinstalling ArcGIS 8.x, reinstall the desired applications with the cleanup switch.

Article ID:000005393

  • Legacy Products
  • ArcMap 9 x
  • ArcMap 8 x

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