Symantec: Disable SymProtect before upgrading to Windows XP SP3

Martin Brinkmann
May 28, 2008
Updated • Nov 13, 2017
Windows, Windows XP

If you are running the Symantec products Norton Internet Security 2008, Norton SystemWorks 2008, Norton 360 or Norton AntiVirus 2008 on a machine with Windows XP Service Pack 2, and want to upgrade to Service Pack 3 you should disable the SymProtect feature before doing so or your operating system could go kaboom.

More precisely, users are left with an empty device manager and network connections window when they upgrade nevertheless.

This is apparently caused by a large number of bogus Registry keys starting with special characters that are added to the Registry during the update.

Reese Anschultz, Sr. SQA Manager of Symantec Corporation, posted information on how to disable the SymProtect feature in all Symantec products in a support forum. Symantec is currently developing a tool to clean the Registry from those extraneous registry keys. Unfortunately no information was posted when the tool will be available but it will most likely be in the coming week as time is of the essence.

The problem apparently spawns from the fact that the Microsoft tool fixccs.exe adds temporary keys to the Windows XP Registry during the update which cannot be deleted due to the SymProtect protection which prevents changes to the Registry.

Below are the instructions on how to disable SymProtect on the various Symantec products.

To help prevent this issue from occurring, you should disable SymProtect prior to installing the Windows XP SP3 upgrade. This setting, in Norton Internet Security 2008 and Norton AntiVirus 2008, can be found within the Options page as “Turn on protection for Norton products.” In this case you should uncheck the box prior to the upgrade. After the upgrade is complete, please remember to re-enable this feature. It should be noted, however, that this workaround only addresses issues with Symantec products. You may still run into similar problems with other products affected by this XP SP3 upgrade issue.

For Norton SystemWorks 2008 you have to go to the Advanced Options UI that is under Settings. Next, click on "Norton SystemWorks Options" and select the General tab. Lastly, uncheck the box that says, "Turn on protection for my Symantec product”.

For Norton SystemWorks 2008 Premier you can use either the previous instructions or the Norton AntiVirus instructions.

What I don't understand is that companies are always changing the location of the options and menus. That's not user friendly. Microsoft for instance is always changing the location of the options in Internet Explorer. This renders instructions that are still valid useless as users cannot even find how to access the options based on the instructions.

Article Name
Symantec: Disable SymProtect before upgrading to Windows XP SP3
A protective feature of several Symantec security applications for Windows, called SymProtect, is causing issues on systems that are upgraded to Windows XP SP3.
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