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Troubleshooting Photoshop CS3 Installation Problems

When Adobe released the beta of Photoshop CS3, I rushed to install it. Everything went smoothly, and it ran great. But for some reason, the final shipping version was not as kind to me. I have Photoshop on two machines as per the license agreement. While the install on one went fine, the other just wouldn't cooperate. Now that I finally have it working, here are a few tips if you're in the same boat I was.

I bought the Design Premium version of the CS3 suite which includes Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, and other odds and ends in addition to Photoshop. While expensive, it's still the most cost effective solution for my needs. Unlike previous versions of the suite, CS3 comes on a DVD rather than a stack of CD's. That fact was the source of my major problem, but read on as this was not the first issue I ran into.

My first problem was that the installer wouldn't give me the option of installing Photoshop, claiming that "Installing Adobe Photoshop CS3 results in a conflict with Adobe Photoshop CS3." Sounds somewhat like a Catch-22 now doesn't it? While you would expect Adobe to realize people might actually have installed the beta they offered, the shipping version of the CS3 installer fails to deal with it properly. What the message was trying to tell me is that the release version of Photoshop CS3 couldn't be installed over top of the beta and that I needed to manually install the beta first. OK, fine. While it would have been nice for the installer to simply state that, a quick search of Adobe's support site gave me the answer.

Indeed, this site is a great resource for all sorts of technical problems you might run into with Adobe software. While overall, I think Adobe does a good job of quality assurance and testing before they release something, situations can come up with particular systems and configurations, and Adobe does their best to document them here.

While reading the Adobe support site, I came across an interesting problem I did not experience that others may run into. If you previously had Flash version 8 installed, the CS3 installer may start, but then simply disappear from your screen after it finishes initializing. This can happen if Flash was not cleanly uninstalled, confusing the CS3 installer. To remedy the problem, make sure you get rid if Flash completely before installing CS3. Adobe provides a special uninstaller for just this purpose. If this still won't do the trick, you can download the Microsoft MsiZap Cleanup Utility and use per Adobe's instructions to forcefully get rid of the Flash remnants. Be sure to also uninstall any failed portions of the CS3 install before giving another try at installing Photoshop CS3 or the suite.

If the CS3 suite itself refuses to uninstall cleanly, Adobe provides a CS3Clean Script that should do the trick. Because it is a bit of a drastic remedy, Adobe recommends you back up your hard drive before running CS3Clean. Undoubtedly this is due to the tricks employed on your drive by the Adobe License Manager to control Activation.

I ended up running the CS3Clean Script since once I got past the "CS3 conflicts with CS3" conundrum I got stuck repeatedly on what Windows XP Professional reported as an "error in device driver." The darned machine kept spontaneously rebooting itself somewhere during the CS3 installation process. No matter what I tried, it kept doing this. The installer would start and rarely get very far at all before boom! The screen would go black and the box would reboot itself. When Windows came back up, the Dr. Watson utility built into Windows would inform me that the problem was caused by an error in a device driver.

I tried installing across the network with the DVD in the drive of a different machine, but once the installer got started it asked me to insert my copy of Adobe CS3 Design Premium. It clearly wasn't going to stand for me installing over the network. Whether they were honestly trying to prevent copyright violations or just didn't expect someone to try this, I don't know, but clearly this idea wasn't going to work. I ejected the DVD and put it in the drive of the machine I was actually installing on and immediately the computer again rebooted itself. I have never had problems with any other DVD's on this machine, but CS3 must be doing something the others didn't attempt.

I tried copying the entire contents of the DVD into a folder on the problem machine, again with the disc itself in the DVD drive of another computer on the same network. No problem with copying it, but again the installer insisted I insert the real disc locally when I ran it. And again, the screen went dark and the computer rebooted itself.

Support professionals often tell you to disable anti-virus software and close all unnecessary programs before running an install that you are having trouble with. Believe me, I tried this. I mean I tried this big time, closing and disabling pretty much everything, but still no joy. Still the computer would simply reboot rather than installing CS3.

Windows features a "Safe Mode" that disables even more than you can manually disable for when you are really having problems. I rebooted Windows into Safe Mode and tried to run the install. Turns out that in Microsoft's infinite wisdom the current version of the Microsoft Installer will not run in Safe Mode. Great idea, this Safe Mode thing, huh?

Anyway, it was at this point that I did most of my detailed searching of the Adobe support site and Adobe forums. Google too, in case there were any issues Adobe didn't yet know about that people were discussing elsewhere. Still no answers.

I compared driver versions for my DVD drive to what was on another similar machine and that did turn up several file differences, but no clear answers as to what any of them meant.

The machine I was having problems with was one that has had a fair bit of software on it over its lifetime. At least some of the files listed in Windows Device Manager as being part of the driver for the DVD drive came from a version of Roxio Easy Media Creator so I decided it was time to update Roxio. The version was supposedly compatible with Windows XP but was not the current version since Roxio keeps adding new features including support for Windows Vista. DVD support continues improving with each release too so I figured it was worth it to upgrade my copy. I had first tried uninstalling Roxio, but that had no effect on my reboot problems. An examination of the driver files revealed the reason why — more than one of the Roxio driver files did not get uninstalled when the application did. Upgrading seemed my only option short of giving up on that computer all together. I have been considering buying a new workstation so this nearly pushed me over the edge.

As it turned out, upgrading to Roxio version 9 did the trick. After running through their upgrade program, the CS3 installer ran without a hitch. Upgrading took a while since there's a lot in Design Premium, but no errors, and best of all, no unexpected reboots.

In the end, mission accomplished, but I've never had this much trouble upgrading Photoshop before, and I've been with Adobe for a lot of releases now. I have no way of knowing how many readers here will benefit from my experiences in CS3 upgrade hell, but hopefully at least some will. If nothing else, you have my permission to feel good now, knowing that you avoided all this mess.

By the way, if you are in the process of upgrading to CS3, remember to allow the Adobe Updater to do its thing after you are finished with the install. There are already updates for most CS3 programs available for download from Adobe's website.

Date posted: August 12, 2007


Copyright © 2007 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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