Software Installation Monitor

Many software programs have to be installed on a computer system before they can be used. The installation itself is not a transparent process because the user is not informed about the Registry and file changes that the installer initiates. Most users would probably skip those information anyway but monitoring software installations is a reliable way of determining if a software program is making changes to a computer system that it should not.

SpyMe Tools is a software program that can monitor both file and registry changes caused by software installations. This is done by creating snapshots before and after the software installation. These snapshots are then compared to each other and the differences are shown to the user. The program does require some manual work before it can be used effectively. The first step is to create a snapshot of the Windows Registry before the software installation.

After that it is necessary to switch to file mode and select the hard drives that should be monitored for changes. This usually includes the partition with the Windows operating system and the partition that the software gets installed to. The program will create another snapshot of the hard drives which also has to be saved to the local hard drive.

After both snapshots have been created start the software installation normally. Once the software installation has been completed run a second scan of both the file system and Windows Registry. A click on the Compare button makes it then possible to compare both snapshots with each other to display the changes to both the file system and the Windows Registry that the installation has caused.

software installation

The software installation monitor will display the information in a tree like view in the left window of the software program. If you compare the file system it will list all folders that have been changed in the file system since the creation of the first and second snapshot. The right window will contain the actual file information including name, type and size.

SpyMe Tools are also providing access to a real time monitor that can either monitor the Windows Registry or the file system in specified locations. The real time mode is a bit harder to work with as all changes will be listed in one quickly growing table.

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Responses to Software Installation Monitor

  1. Jojo March 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    Too much work!

    Years ago (win98 days I think), I had some program whose name I forgot that would monitor all changes in installs and then allow you at some point in the future to completely uninstall the same product. You had to run the install through the product as a front-end.

    Does something like this still exist?

  2. LM7 March 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    @Jojo: Yes, there is an excellent freeware program that does what you want (ZSoft Uninstaller, http://www.zsoft.dk/index/software_details/4), as well as a payware program (Total Uninstaller, http://www.martau.com/; some earlier versions of this program were issued as freeware).

  3. me March 1, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    RegShot is a very simple to use app that does the same thing as SpyMe, in just one go.

    There's also apps written to make non-portable apps portable, that will actually prevent the monitored installers and apps from making registry and file system changes, that can be easily used to to unisntall an app later since all of the cahnges get captured and redirected into known files and/or directories. Just delete the file and/or directory and you're done. Stuff like ThinApp, Molebox, Ceedo, and even an alpha freeware called JauntPE, which also has its own snapshotting tool that is even easier to use than RegShot..

  4. Half-Wit July 27, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    JoJo, the program your are thinking of is probably CleanSweep by QuarterDeck Systems BEFORE Norton bought it and ruined it. In a resident mode it would detect the start of an installation routine and ask if you wanted to monitor it. The result was a simple TEXT file listing every file added, changed or deleted and every registry change as well.

    It was MARVELOUS because you could find info regarding DLL files that replaced/updated if you suddenly had some new problem following an install. You could delete registry keys that blocked reinstallation, etc.

    Wow, do I ever miss that program!! I bought Norton's version and it is nothing like it. Now I am looking for something similar. If anyone knows of such a program PLEASE let me know. Likewise, if a discover a suitable replacement I will post it here.

    [email protected]

  5. cory March 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    thank you not only for the software review but for the procedure. this looks like it will work for me.

    You should have mentioned though that after scanning the reg and the partition, that you need to save the scan. Thats a critical step.

  6. Jon May 19, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    How about an oldie but a goodie program called InControl5 by PCMag.
    Here is a link:
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,25198,00.asp

  7. Crypto February 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Jon,

    Please do not post links that are from (December 5, 2000)
    Must people nowadays are using Windows 7
    Please read dates before supplying information or supplying references.

    -Crypto

  8. Just some guy October 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Hey, Crypto. Jon specifically stated that it's "an oldie but a goodie", implying that he is well-aware of its age.

    "[m]ust (sp) people nowadays are using Windows 7", huh? Please cite your sources - and check your spelling - before supplying information. Many people still use older versions of Windows, so Jon is not at all out of line for mentioning an older piece of software that may work on newer operating systems. Your post suggests a general lack of computing experience.

  9. I Miss DeltaDeploy September 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    There was also Delta Deploy by PowerQuest, (also bought and scavenged by Symantec) which would record the before snapshot, you run the app, then it would record the after snapshot...then would roll up all the changes into an .exe for installing on other machines. Very nice for putting the same software packages on multiple machines.

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