Best Way to Recover from Hanging Group Policy Deployed Software

Deploying software through group policy is a great way to ensure all computers are up-to-date and running the same version but unfortunately, not everything runs as smoothly as we would like. I ran into a problem last Friday trying to deploy the updated Java RE 6 Update 18 where the antivirus would tie up the installer until the install process timed out. This only happened on 5 machines out of hundreds, but through it I think I found some best practices to do when you have a hung deployment trying to install on a computer.

When an installation is hung up and isn’t just taking its sweet time is hard to say because the installation is silent, you don’t get a progress bar or any error messages. However, things like Adobe Flash or Java RE shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes and Adobe Acrobat takes about 10 minutes. If the computer is trying to install Java for about 20 minutes, you can safely suspect that there is an issue.

In the case where the machine is hung with the message before the logon screen, the computer should NOT be restarted by holding down the power button. Instead, from a machine that you can log into, use pskill.exe from the PS Tools suite from SysInternals to run this command:

pskill.exe –t \hostname01 msiexec.exe

You should receive a confirmation that the process (or more than one) was terminated successfully. This will then let the machine get to the logon screen (or the next install which may not have this problem). Log onto the computer and you should be able to resolve the problem such as updating the antivirus program or adding an exception.

Now you tell me…

Now, if you or the user got tired of waiting and restarted their computer while the message was hung at the Installing Managed Software message, you will be unable to uninstall Java 6_18 via Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. It will give an error like:

Product: Java(TM) 6 Update 18 — Internal Error 2753. regutils.dll

This will likely be the case for any other programs that were interrupted while trying to be installed by a Group Policy deployment. You need to download and install the Microsoft Installer Cleanup Utility.

Download and install this utility on the machine. Then run it (you’ll find it on the Start Menu, Programs of the user who installed it) and scroll down the list until you find Java 6 Update 18. Select Java 6_18 and hit the button to have it cleaned up/removed. After that, exit and install Java 6_18 normally or you can try the GPO route again. You should be able to restart and it won’t get hung up during the Installing Managed Software message. It may try to reinstall Java and it may take a couple of minutes to do that. If that is the case, you’ll have to restart the computer again to allow the install to clean up.

After all is said and done, you can test the version of Java to make sure it’s the latest (or what you deployed).

If it says Congratulations! You have the recommended version. You’re all set. If it says anything else, you can try restarting again or running the install manually.

If you’re trying to install something besides Java, these last steps will obviously be different. If you’re looking for help with a similar problem, you can try asking in the forum.

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