What to do when updates fail

Your prompted update has self-destructed and the software refuses to reinstall. <i>Now</i> what?

I received an e-mail this morning from Pearl, the source of whose frustration is the failure of a prompted update. She writes:


I have been using LimeWire Basic for about four years with no problem. This morning I was using it and a box came up telling me to download an update, which I did. Then it all disappeared from my screen, and also took with it my original LimeWire, too. So I tried to download it again only to be told it was a corrupt file. I did this a couple of times with no joy.

I have been to the LimeWire contact area, wrote them a letter in two separate places, but it refuses to send mail as it says error occurred. So I cannot ask what is wrong, so I am hopeful you will be able to assist me.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, updates become corrupted or interrupted, leaving you without a functioning program, and with useless files littered throughout your file system. Now what? Pearl had the right idea to reinstall the app, though her continuing error messages suggest that she'll need to clear out the bits and pieces before achieving a clean install.

Before continuing, let me say it did cross my mind that the update could be malware riding on the coattails of a popular product. As LimeWire did recently update, the download is in all likelihood completely legitimate. If a software installation from an update prompt goes wonky, it's a good idea to check the current version and change log on the product site. False prompts are well-known ways for malware to slink in. If there's any doubt, e-mail the company in question and fire up that antivirus application for a system scan.

Now back to the issue at hand. Does LimeWire still shows up in your program list, Pearl? If so, try uninstalling it completely with a free app like Revo Uninstaller. If you're wary of Revo's slightly more aggressive "Moderate" mode, the "Safe" setting will still pluck out the ancillary files that could be standing in the way of reinstalling the app. If it appears that LimeWire's been removed, program shards could still be a clog. I'd recommend running CCleaner, another free app that should dissolve some of those leftover pieces. Then try reinstalling LimeWire fresh.

If that still fails, cruise LimeWire's forum to see if others have also discovered, and solved, the problem. If you seem to be the sole witness, post it and check back often to see if a LimeWire moderator or other peer has responded. CNET also has forums where you can draw from users' collective experience. Good luck!

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.